Hate Crime Legislation being voted on in the House

Urgent! Vote No on Hate Crime Legislation!

We have taken this path before, haven’t we?  Trying to set up certain classes as those being most likely targets for bias-motivated assaults does more to pit groups against each other than it does to bring equitable treatment.  Enumerating certain groups always leaves out other groups who may not have the politicial clout to become enshrined as a “protected class”.

If we have laws and due process for any kind of crime, and we say in the *14th Amendment to our Constitution that all have equal protection of the laws, then the same crime should merit the same punishment no matter who committed it and no matter against whom it was committed, and all should be equally assumed “not guilty” until convicted.

Could we not make a case for most violent acts (perhaps pre-meditated crimes?) to be “hate crimes” at the very core?  Perhaps there is not direct hate from one person to another as in the case of an assailant who randomly starts shooting in a crowd, since he may not know any of his potential victims.  However, there is an element in him of hatred for something that he deems unfair, and thus believes he is justified in taking his rage out on whomever may be in the vicinity.

In my view, rape in generally a crime of hatred of a man toward women in general.  One internet author suggests it should be reclassified from a sex crime to a hate crime.  What about child abuse or torture or arson or grand theft?  Do not all of these reflect some attitude in the perpetrator that shows a total disregard for the victim and his needs and feelings?  Hate doesn’t always come out in rage, but may be cold and deliberate and is always self-motivated.

In this climate of political correctness, elevating some groups to be “in need of special protection” will marginalize and villify other groups who don’t share the same values.  For example, if the protected class is those who wear green, and I say, “I don’t like green and I won’t ever wear it because I think green is a disgusting color”,  by the definition of  “hate speech” I have just denigrated those who wear green.

Has my speech done any physical harm to another or deprived him of any rights?  Perhaps, if the hearer is sensitive and believes that my opinion for myself about green garments is a reflection on his personhood, he may raise the call of  “hate crime” or “hate speech”.  If the legal and judicial processes back that up, we have legitimized the need to look for “hate” motives in any kind of offense.  Before long, those who don’t wear green, but have not said anything against it, could be viewed as “secretly harboring hate for the wearers of green”.  (I can see it now:  employees will be brought in for “retraining and tolerance classes” with some amount of pressure to wear green and to publicly affirm those who do.)

Ridiculous example, you say?  I think I agree.  We can divide people to a point of becoming ridiculous.  Bias and stereotypes and prejudice are not overcome by legislation and extra attention if the action is directed at someone set apart as “more special or more deserving” of protection than others.  These are matters of the heart that are more likely to be addressed as we learn how to deal with our own shortcomings and learn to live together in truth and grace.  This is what I want to work for–ways to build each other up and build community.  I take a stand against those things that divide us.

(By the way, if we want to look at hate speech, I think the Department of Homeland Security’s report on the radical right-wing extremists would qualify.)

********************************* 

The House Judiciary Committee has already approved H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Now it comes to a full vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

This legislation is an attack on freedom of speech guaranteed to every American by the First Amendment.

The bill will make it a federal crime to cause harm to someone who is a member of a group protected under this law. Groups will be defined based on gender, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and various social factors.

If passed, this bill can also be used to limit freedom of expression in churches.

Tell your representative that freedom of thought is not a crime.

++ Contact your representative now!

 

*14th Amendment, section 1: No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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