Thursday, May 03, 2007

HR 1592, The “Hate Crimes Bill” Passes

Hate crimes, crimes committed against people because of some physical, behavioral or ideological characteristic, are more heinous than the vast bulk of crimes that humans are capable of. Congress today accomplished something that would have been impossible before January. They passed HR 1592, the “Hate Crimes Bill”. A similar bill, sponsored by Ted Kennedy, is making its way through the Senate.

The vote went this way Aye: 237 (including 25 Republicans) and Nay: 180 (including 14 Democrats). My congressman, Nick Lampson, is still recovering from surgery so did not vote.

What this bill will do if it becomes law (more on that later) is to recognize hate crimes as a crime against a person committed solely on account of the person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim. That’s the broadest definition ever to be seen, and it is very inclusive.

The bill authorizes the attorney general to give priority to prosecute cases involving hate crime, and provides that the attorney general may provide technical support to local law enforcement agencies in their investigations. In addition, local law enforcement agencies may apply for grants of up to $100,000 per year to assist them in their investigation of hate crimes.

Federal prosecution of local hate crimes may occur if the local jurisdiction requests it or does not object to federal action, or if the jurisdiction fails to prosecute the offense. A person convicted of a federal hate crime, a felony, could face up to 10 years imprisonment, or if the victim dies, is kidnapped or sexually assaulted, life imprisonment.

Hate crimes speak to the worst side of human behavior. It needs special attention to eradicate commission of hate crimes in this country.

This is a great and noble bill.

And George Bush says he will veto it.

Why? Is it because too many people with “high moral standards” will be incarcerated? Religious extremists who want to cuff a faggot for Christ? Or is it because of California? California has led the way in passing hate crime bills into law. It is now a crime in California to refuse to hire a teacher solely because he/she is a transsexual.

The Washington Post printed a White House statement on this bill today:

“The White House said state and local criminal laws already cover the new crimes defined under the bill and there was "no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement.”

So, according to the White House, the reason Bush opposes the bill is because the states already prosecute hate crimes, and that hate crimes are so widespread and rampant that there is no need to federalize the crime. They also say it isn’t inclusive enough. No mention of the elderly. No mention is made of policemen or the military (you know, guys who carry guns?).

Do these people come from the same planet I am from?

Republicans are outraged that the law no longer makes us all equal. That gays get their cases filed before straights who are beaten and robbed. Well let’s get this straight: hate crimes are crimes motivated by ideas, not avarice or passion. A victim of a hate crime not only has a broken body, but a broken spirit. Hate crimes are the cruelest crimes in existence. They SHOULD get priority.

Rightwing evangelical James Dobson, founder of “Focus on the Family” says that the true intent of the bill is to “muzzle people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality”. Dobson wants to retain his religious right to hate his fellow human man. He also claims that the bill would deny his right to free speech.

No, I think it will still be possible for Ann Coulter to call John Edwards “a faggot” in tasteless jokes. But it will protect her if someone attacks her under the delusion that she is a former male.


D said...

Yesterday, Bush's justification for the upcoming veto complained that the bill does not cover crimes against the elderly, members of the military, police officers, and victims of prior crimes.

Yesterday, Lamar Smith (R-TX), moved to include this language in the bill -- to protect the elderly and the military -- and his request to recommit to committee was countered with an offer to immediately amend the language of the bill by unanimous consent.

He refused. He wanted to send the bill back to the committee, not actually protect the seniors and soldiers. His constituents should be made aware of such political stupidity. I've recorded the transcripts from the Congressional record, if anyone is interested in viewing it, HERE.

bob said...

Since the dawn of time, people in powerful positions have attempted to use religious or governmental structures to control the thoughts and actions of others. This has rarely been beneficial.

-Prostitution is illegal, but readily available

-A constitutional amendment prohibiting alcohol was proven to be counter-productive in every measure, and eventually repealed.

-"Illicit" drugs are outlawed, and para-military activities sanctioned in a well intentioned effort to curb the ill effects of drug abuse--To no avail. Drugs are more plentiful, cheap, and readily available than ever before.

You can't eliminate hate my making hateful thoughts illegal. But you can give undue power to the government and restrict the freedoms of everyone in the process of trying.

Hal said...

And I guess that's why Ron Paul voted against the Hate Crimes Bill, too. Bob and Ron want all Americans to retain their right to act out their hate on other people because not to do so is to tread on our precious liberties.

Now I don't hate Libertarians, but I think that others who do, and would commit violent acts against them solely on the basis of the ideas that Ron and Bob have, should be dealt with, with prejudice.

Anonymous said...

I like how tolerant everyone here is.

Hal said...

That's pretty good, Anon. You've caught us all in our hypocrisy. . .

By this line of reasoning, we must also be tolerant of the hateful and the intolerant. This may be well and good for you, but I am going to have some hard feelings for the one who anally rapes a Hispanic boy with a broom handle because he had the gall to flirt with a white girl.

No, the intolerant must reap what they sow.