[COMMENT: Hate-crimes bills are a disastrous violation of our constitutional order. The violate the centerpiece of our Constitution -- the legally guaranteed freedom to pursue open, honest public discussion of public matters. Hate-crime laws are being passed to shut down the debate about homosexuality -- as though it were self-evidently true that homosexuality is a good idea, and that one can oppose it only for evil-minded reasons.
The truth is that homosexuality is a compulsive, lethal addiction. There is not a shred of credible evidence showing either that God approves, that it is inborn or genetic, or that it is a healthy way to live. It is not an identity, it is a compulsive behavior trying its best to parade as an identity. Read Homosexuality: Good & Right in the Eyes of God? for the full story, or the "One-Page Strategy" and "The Evidence" for the short version.
Until the men in America regain their spiritual backbones and stand up to put the evidence on the table, we will continue losing this war. The time is coming. Which side will you be on. The truth-seekers and truth-speakers -- or the subverters of truth?
Hate-crime laws are the tools of tyrants, not of free governments. America is eroding toward tyranny. But we can stop it -- if we stand up and be counted.
See Politics Library for more on Hate-Crime laws. E. Fox]
Culture & Family Institute Special Report
A free society concerns itself with actions, not beliefs.
The hate crimes bill, an amendment to the Child Safety Act (H.R. 3132), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 15. Titled “The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act,” the bill is now under review in the U.S. Senate (S. 1145). This bill:
First, a revealing moment
During the Supreme Court hearings in 2000 on the Boy Scout case, pro-life Rev. Rob Schenck was sitting in the audience next to the Clinton White House liaison for “gay” issues. Thinking the pastor was a fellow liberal, the woman whispered, “We’re not going to win this case, but that’s okay. Once we get ‘hate crime’ laws on the books, we’re going to go after the Scouts and all the other bigots.”
THREAT TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Similar hate crime laws are already being used in Canada, Sweden and elsewhere to persecute and prosecute Christians and others who hold traditional beliefs regarding homosexuality.
It’s already happening in the United States as well. Under Pennsylvania’s newly enacted “hate crimes” law, 11 Christians were arrested and jailed overnight in 2004 for singing and preaching in a Philadelphia public park at a homosexual street festival. Five of them, including a 17-year-old girl, were bound over and charged with five felonies and three misdemeanors. After several months, during which the defendants’ faced possible 47-year prison sentences, a judge finally dismissed the charges. But she also noted that unpopular speech such as that expressed by Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are protected. In other words, the court upheld the free speech right of the Christians, but placed their speech in the same category as that of odious hate groups.
Homosexual activists have redefined any opposition to homosexuality as “hate speech.” Laws already criminalize speech that incites violence. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which any incident involving a homosexual can be blamed on people who have publicly opposed homosexual activism.
EXPANDING FEDERAL POWER
Under Section 607 2-B, the bill authorizes federal intervention under several circumstances, including a crime that:
1. interferes with commercial or other economic activity in which the victim is engaged at the time of the conduct; or
2. otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce.
Under Section 607 (b) (2) (D), the bill allows federal intervention if:
“The verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence.”
“One can hardly imagine a more vague or broad invitation for federal prosecutors than ‘unvindicated’ and ‘federal interest,’” said Jan LaRue, Concerned Women for America’s (CWA’s) chief counsel. “This gives the U.S. Attorney General the discretion to enter any case he or she wants, and will politicize criminal prosecution. Special interests will lobby to have their cases treated more seriously than other crime victims’ and local authorities will be hapless to object.”
The language in the House version of the hate crimes bill adds not only “sexual orientation” to a list of newly protected classes, but “gender identity.” Final passage would mean that the Congress of the United States would be officially creating a new civil rights category based on sexual confusion. Like “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” is infinitely flexible, and includes transvestitism (cross-dressing) and transsexualism (believing that one is in the wrong sex’s body and sometimes surgically changing one’s sex organs).
CREATING “THOUGHT CRIME”
In a free society, our system concerns itself with actions, not beliefs.
CWA’s LaRue explains:
“The prosecutor must prove both a guilty act and a guilty mind in order to convict a person of a crime. A guilty mind is proved by the intent to commit the prohibited act, such as pointing a loaded gun at the victim and pulling the trigger. Intent is not the same as motive. Motive has to do with why the defendant wanted to shoot the victim. Motive is not an element of the crime. When it can be proved by the evidence, it is icing on the cake for the prosecution. Motive is highly subjective, and in the case of a hate crime, it is in the eyes of the prosecutor who can use evidence unrelated to the crime to prove the motive.
“To understand the difference and the unfairness to different victims, imagine that A is convicted of intentionally shooting B and is sentenced to 10 years in prison. Nothing about A’s motive was mentioned whatsoever. Now imagine that A is convicted of intentionally shooting C. The prosecutor proves that A did it and he did it because of something critical A said or wrote about homosexual conduct, which has nothing to do with C, yet it is used to prove A was motivated by ‘bias’ against C because C is a homosexual. A is sentenced to 10 years plus the enhanced sentence provided under the hate crime law. If you were B, what message would the difference in sentencing send to you about the value of your life?” LaRue asks.
By adding sentencing enhancement for some crimes, based on the motive or perceptions of the offender, the United States would move toward a system found commonly in totalitarian regimes, which punish thoughts or beliefs not sanctioned by the government. In effect, a suspect is convicted not only of the crime but also convicted of the crime of having a particular belief.
VIOLATING EQUAL PROTECTION
All crime victims deserve equal protection under the law. Hate crime laws, however, create a multi-tiered system of justice, in which some crime victims’ cases are taken more seriously than others. Often, such cases are media-driven, as occurred in Wyoming in 1999 during the trial of two men accused of the 1998 murder of college student Matthew Shepard.
By contrast, the case of Kristin Lamb, an 8-year-old Wyoming girl killed and thrown into a landfill about a month before Mr. Shepard’s murder, received no publicity, indicating that her life was not worth as much as Mr. Shepard’s. The court in Wyoming, which had no “hate crimes” law on the books, gave Shepard’s two murderers the maximum penalty. A Wyoming official testified during U.S. Senate hearings that because of the media frenzy, his office spent a budget-crushing amount on the case, including for media management.
TEMPTING LOCAL OFFICIALS
Under Section 604, the hate crimes bill creates a program that would dispense federal grants of up to $100,000 to state and local officials for criminal investigations and prosecution of hate crimes.
This is an incentive for departments to place more emphasis on politically driven cases at the expense of others. Seeking federal dollars, police and prosecutors will define more and more cases as “hate crimes.” Expect such crimes to soar. After California enacted a “hate crimes” law, incidents went from 75 to 2,052 in four years.
ENLISTING SCHOOLS IN PRO-‘GAY’ CAMPAIGNS
Under Section 604 (2), the Office of Justice Programs is empowered to ensure compliance with “the local infrastructure developed under the grants.” Affected parties include “community groups and schools, colleges, and universities.”
Schools are already incorporating pro-homosexual materials in sex education and “anti-bullying” programs sponsored by private groups such as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). These programs inform schoolchildren that homosexual behavior is normal and healthy, and that people (and religions) that oppose it are hate-filled bigots. The hate crimes bill amounts to a Christmas tree for taxpayer-assisted propaganda programs that advance acceptance of homosexuality in the schools while denigrating people of faith.
AN UNNECESSARY ADDITION
There is no evidence that hate crime cases are being mishandled by local and state authorities. Proponents have yet to provide data to show that federal intervention is needed to ensure justice.
What’s more, according to the last three annual FBI Crime in the United States Uniform Crime Reports, hate crimes are decreasing, including those based on “sexual orientation.”
The hate crimes bill undermines equal protection; is a direct threat to freedom; would federalize criminal law, and would transform the nature of criminal law by criminalizing thoughts and beliefs instead of actions.
We have multiple objections to the bill, but our first concern is this: Any senator or representative who votes for such a bill is helping to erect a system in which our children will be jailed someday for their beliefs.
Robert Knight is director of the Culture & Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America.
Concerned Women for America
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