Hate Crimes and Scare Tactics

By Jacqueline L. Salmon The rhetoric is hot and heavy around the federal “hate crimes” bill, expected to be re-introduced … Continued

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

The rhetoric is hot and heavy around the federal “hate crimes” bill, expected to be re-introduced into Congress within the next few weeks. It would allow federal aid to investigate crimes committed because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The measure broadens the definition of hate crimes, which already includes crimes motivated by bias based on race, religion and national origin. It passed Congress last year, is expected to pass again, and President Obama has pledged to sign it.

Suffice to say that conservative groups don’t like it. They call it the “thought crimes” bill that will penalize clergy members who preach messages against homosexual activity from the pulpit. Gay-rights activists accuse them of using deceit to scare up support.

Here’s the debate:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, predicts a “wave of federal prosecution.” In a fund-raising e-mail sent to supporters on Tuesday, he warned that offended gays could accuse a religious broadcaster, a pastor or a Sunday school teacher who expresses the viewpoint that homosexual behavior is morally wrong and unhealthy.

That’s “just a scare tactic to mobilize the grass roots,” counters Becky Bansky, federal legislative director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “When they have to resort to lying, they’re telling you they have no legitimate argument against the legislation.”

Not so, says Jason Lorence, senior attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal firm. “I don’t think it’s preposterous to propose that in the future, hate crimes can be used against pastors.”

So who wins this smackdown?

Let’s turn to Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center.
“I don’t think this legislation would in any way infringe on the freedom of people to state their views about homosexuality,” Haynes says in an e-mail.

The bill, Haynes notes, applies only to violent acts, not speech. It wouldn’t prohibit what the First Amendment protects.

He concedes that an overzealous prosecutor could try using the hate-crimes law to stifle religious speech. But widespread misuse, when you look at the record of prosecutions under existing hate-crimes laws, is highly unlikely, he notes.

  • lavdad2

    Many people fail to understand why hate crime legislation is necessary. They take the position that robberies, beatings etc. should only be prosecuted as robberies or as beatings.What they are not getting is that hate crime legislation simply recognizes that two crimes are being committed.When someone is attacked or robbed based on their ethnicity, sexual orientation or membership in some other group that the perpetrator dislikes it is not just an attack or robbery. It is also an act of terrorism against that entire group. It is done to send a message that you need to accept your status as not worthy and should not be so “uppity”!

  • Alex511

    fr the article:>…Suffice to say that conservative groups don’t like it. They call it the “thought crimes” bill that will penalize clergy members who preach messages against homosexual activity from the pulpit. Gay-rights activists accuse them of using deceit to scare up support…And that is exactly how the rr does it; by LYING about GLBT’s and our advocates. tony perkins, “dr” dobdork and leaders of the the fotf, afa, and frc CULTS are full of lies about us. This is a much-needed piece of legislation. Now that we FINALLY have a decent person as President again, GLBT’s can finally hope to get full and equal rights!

  • WmarkW

    Although the right to preach against homosexuality is almost certainly protected, conservatives are justified in thinking that hate definitions are sometimes applied politically.The white people who dragged James Byrd was a hate crime. The black people who attacked Reginald Denny during the LA riots was not characterized that way. I find it difficult to see the difference.

  • peter49

    There is a very easy answer to this debate. There is distinct hatred and intolerance by the Fundamentalists towards any other religion other than theirs. How many of them have been prosecuted under existing law against hate crimes involving religion? Were Tony Perkins or Jay Sekulow prosecuted for their involvement in the Unitarian church shooting because of their extreme sectarian intolerance of Unitarians? I think not. So their argument now that just because they are intolerant of homosexuals does not mean they will be arrested when the “lone wolfs” they create instigate crimes against gays or lesbians. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion….

  • GoofyPlatypus

    Your apparent support of clearly unconstitutional, so-called “hate crimes” legislation is wrong for many reasons. But one I’ll focus on here is the fact that you set up a straw man argument that “widespread misuse” of such legislation is “highly unlikely.”Factually, that’s simply incorrect. White people and Christians are much more likely to be persecuted — and prosecuted — for the same so-called “hate crime” than are non-whites.This despite the fact that so-called “hate” motivates people of all ethnicities equally.Furthermore, so-called “hate crimes” perpetrated by black offenders — like the Jena 6 thugs — are NOT prosecuted as such. And crime statistics show that a white woman is at least five times more likely to be a raped by a black man as is a black woman to be raped by a white man. But these crimes, despite evident racial bias, are not being designated as “hate crimes” because of fear of offending the left wing and racial hatemongers like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the like.But finally, you need to consider the chilling effect such laws have on free speech. Already, people are afraid to criticize Islam, for example, for fear of being falsely accused of being intolerant. Yet the people who worry about our intolerance never seem to criticize the terrorists who operate based on their perceptions of Islam.The racist U.S. attorney general sniped recently that Americans are too cowardly to discuss race. That same week, hatemonger Al Sharpton was making a hullaballoo over a stupid political cartoon that was in no way racist to anyone with a brain. Well, here’s a thought, maybe Americans are afraid to discuss race because of the chilling effect of political correctness!The idea behind “hate crime” legislation is good — nobody should be targeted for abuse because of their race, sexual orientation or anything else. But it comes down to, nobody should be tarted for abuse.But disagreement is NOT abuse, and many major religions — including Islam, which the left is always afraid to name when people discuss intolerance — do not accept homosexuality.But they have that RIGHT. The right to disagree with it. The right to not condone it. That’s different than abusing it, but the chilling effect of such anti-free-speech legislation is encroaching on their rights.

  • vwam

    two reasons i’m glad i don’t live in the states (as adjudged from afar): one, if you get sick you’re stuffed, two, people seem SOOOOOOO uptight about what everyone else is saying. americans are famously charitable, but can’t seem to figure out how to be charitable to each other.

  • billy8

    “The white people who dragged James Byrd was a hate crime. The black people who attacked Reginald Denny during the LA riots was not characterized that way. I find it difficult to see the difference.”I think the difference is that as the majority, white people are far less likely to be the victims of hate crimes. However, that should not matter. Denny’s attackers should have been charged with hate crimes.As to whether or not the Christian right has something to worry about…. I just don’t understand their concerns. As long as their hate is limited to speech, they will never be prosecuted, and if they are, the Supreme Court will take care of it very quickly. One of the great things about this country is that anyone is free to say whatever they want, no matter how disgusting it is. If they had planned on attacking gay people, and now don’t want to serve longer jail terms, too bad. People ARE attacked in this country based on sexual orientation, and there should be protections.

  • sinnersunited

    Its gonna be a sad day in our country when people who out of love, try and help anyone cought up in a wrongful lifestyle be it drinking,drugging,or homosexuality can and will be arested for hate as seen by those in that group that the one being helped belonged.You see there are those in these groups related to choice that will oppose anyone helping someone in their group to leave, the glbt,is no different in their practice of such then those islamist that practice the prosecution of those that leave and of those the lead others away.The glbt does not want any form of Godliness to lead their members away from their group so they call the Love that is used to help others see the truth about that lifestyle choice as hate.So its gonna be a sad day when they gain victory on this and can then begin to re-define love as hate.Christian believers in Gods will for man kind don’t teach against homosexuality any differently then they do any other sin,and its out of love for the fellow man that they even do that.But that is not what the glbt want everyone to believe.So they(the glbt and muslims) seek to have a law passed to protect their flock from the truth of Gods word.Unfortunetly the man(mr.o)that God has put in office was put there so this and much more will come to pass.I only said unfortunetly because unfortunety many still disbelieve, and many will suffer before all is said and done.

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