Help the Senate do the right thing

As Bwana observes today, “the path to enlightenment runs through the comics section of the local paper.”

Indeed, this (thank you Darrin Bell) is a perfectly pitched imitation of the real AGI in their frenzy over the Hate Crimes Bill, spread through breathless claims like these (compliments of Tom Paine):

[The Hate Crimes Bill] would “literally throw open the door to attacks against people of faith, who could be prosecuted with federal monies for expressing their views on homosexuality!”


[If the bill is passed], “which it will be in a very short time if Christians do not act, even witnessing for our Lord Jesus Christ will be a crime in America, as it is already in several countries around the world.”

In other words, it’s URGENT! It’s also a big, honking lie. Here is the actual bill, and a description from HRC of what the bill will do. It applies to physical violence, period. Idiocy about the “thought police” and such is intended for idiots who can’t be bothered to read bills:

“Through Street Theater, we hope to show that both Moses and Teletubbies can be outlawed under the same hate crimes bill,” said Eugene Delgaudio, the president of Public Advocate.

Yes, that Eugene Delgaudio. Also, this one.

Tom again:

How badly are they lying? Let me count the ways.

Actually, just one way: They’re specifically contradicting the precise text of the bill. Which adds language, to avoid misunderstanding, to the effect that

Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Yes, the AGI is terrified of this bill, and no, they are not being honest about why. The truth is that encouraging our community to be bullied is their final, pathetic attempt to delay the moment when their prejudice is no longer considered socially acceptable. For that, they are willing to see us beaten, killed, and treated as if we asked for it. Here’s something you can do about it:

Join Us for Wine, Cheese, Warner & Webb – An Evening of Action
Help Support Federal Hate Crimes Bill

Join Equality Virginia, Equality Fairfax, the Human Rights Campaign and other progressive organizations for a fun and eventful evening as we take action to contact Virginia Senators Warner and Webb to support the GLBT community.

Tuesday June 19th
MCC Nova, Fairfax
10383 Democracy Lane
Fairfax, VA 22030
Click for a map

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act is expected to be voted on by the Senate at the end of this month. The conservative right is making a HUGE push to defeat this critical legislation. Help us show the power of the GLBT community by taking action!

Evening begins at 7pm for wine and cheese as people gather. Then its time for action – just us for an evening of Wine, Cheese, Warner and Webb.

** Note Warner and Webb won’t be present — but after this evening of action they will know how much we care about passing this important legislation.

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35 Responses to Help the Senate do the right thing

  1. Jack says:

    Ah, you know how I hate to do this, but I must agree with you. About the contents of the bill, anyway, and about the opposition’s deceitful portrayal of it. I heard the hype, and simply found it unbelievable. So I did the obvious thing — I read the bill. (I hope this link works. Your’s doesn’t.)

    That said, I still do not support the bill. To me, crime is crime, and an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. The reasons for the attack are irrelevant. Is a victim more deserving of justice because of the perceived reason for his being assaulted?

    A woman in my neighborhood was murdered a few months ago. No-one knows who her attacker was, or why he did it. It may have been a hate crime, and it may not have been. Now, let us assume that another woman is murdered, and the murderer was heard yelling, “I hate all you people!” as he beat her to death. Does the second woman, or her family, deserve federal resources to bring the murderer to justice, while the first woman does not? Does one family deserve to see their loved one’s murderer get a lighter sentence because he was not heard shouting epithets?

    That does not sound like “the equal protection of the laws” to me.

  2. Jack says:

    Sorry, my link doesn’t work, either. Go to Thomas, select “Bill Number” for the search, and enter “H.R.1592.RFS” (without the quotation marks).

  3. David says:

    Thanks for the catch on the bad link, Jack. Here’s a different link, also updated in the post.

    To address your point about equal protection, do you not think it makes any difference whether someone is killed so that the perpetrator can take their wallet, or whether someone is killed because the perpetrator hates gay people, or black people, or Americans, or some other identifiable group? True, to the victim and their loved ones, they are just as dead either way. But to the community of which they were a member, it makes a huge difference. You could argue that the first case sends a message of fear to all people who could potentially be a victim, but being a member of the category “people who have wallets” is just not the same as being a member of a category of person who is targeted because of who they are. I’m not saying that a victim of a random crime is any less deserving of justice. Randomness creates its own psychological damage, but it is distinct from the intentionality of terrorizing a discrete community.

    Motivation is irrelevent? What if the Twin Towers had been hit by some angry nut who just wanted to kill random people, rather than by a group consciously trying to terrorize Americans for being Americans? There would be no difference to you?

    That said, I do understand why people make the argument you are making, from the perspective of the victim. From that perspective (why should one victim be entitled to more resources?) it does seem unfair. I think the key is that the rationale of the legislation is not centered on the victim, but on the victim’s community.

  4. Jack says:

    First, let me address the Twin Towers question. I am not certain it is comparable, because we were attacked as a nation, not as individuals, and we were attacked by an organized group, not by an individual. The Oklahoma City bombing was as much of a hate crime as 9/11 was, but it was not the motivation that made them different, but the existence of Al Qaeda. Now, if Robert Byrd’s KKK were still in operation, murdering Blacks, Jews, Catholics, and gays, then I would have no problem with the fed’s involvement, because the group involved spans several states. If a angry nut had flown a plane into one of the towers, assuming he took off from JFK, I would not see the call for federal resources.

    Your last point is what bothers me the most. My neighbors are my community. My neighbors are not just “bald, fat, WASPs.”

    “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'” (Luke 10:29)

  5. David says:

    It would bother me too, if what I had said was that any one group was a person’s only community. People are members of multiple communities, some of them chosen and some of them chosen for you. Imagine if we didn’t choose to categorize people according to the gender of their partners any more than we do the race or religion of their partners. Oh, wait…

  6. Jack says:

    So now you would enshrine such divisions in law?

  7. David says:

    I think that it’s those who have created and encouraged disparate treatment of others on the basis of such divisions who are responsible for that. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be necessary.

  8. Jack says:

    So reverse discrimination is justified? That’s “the equal protection of the laws” that our Constitution guarantees?

  9. David says:

    How do you figure reverse discrimination? Don’t forget that the law applies equally to everyone, including bald, fat, straight WASPs. Couldn’t they be the target of a hate crime? Where in the language of the bill does it single out anyone for special treatment?

  10. Jack says:

    Bald and fat are not included in the bill. So if, should I be murdered, the perp yells, “You fat bastard!”, no federal aid will be available for finding the perp. However, if he yells, “You damn Christian!” then such funds will be available. That is just ridiculous.

  11. Russell says:

    I think it is important to note that aid pertaining to this bill is NOT guaranteed (the attorney general MAY award grants) AND there are certain criteria which must be met of the crime invoking this bill. I believe the bottom line is to ensure that justice can occur, no matter what, and violent crime is controlled, administered, prevented, whatever, in a free society so that we can all enjoy the benefits of a free society without harm. Maybe in the future … “fat bastard” and the like will be included in another hate crimes bill ammendment.

    It is important to note that, in absence of a bill such as this when said “fat bastard” is murdered, state and local authorities ALWAYS have the option to petition for federal aid (whatever form that aid can take – it does not have to be money). There have been numerous bills from congress since the 60’s for state and local crime funding, and more-so movement from congress in this area since 9/11.

    The goal is the same … a safe, free society … one worth pursuing I would think.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Here is the latest missive from FRC

    Hate crimes laws now threaten free speech and religious liberty nationwide. They have the potential to “shut down churches and send pastors to prison for simply reading a part of the Bible,” as Dr. D. James Kennedy has warned.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Ow! I hadn’t finished reading the article. Look at this whopper.

    If hate crime laws proliferate, the freedom to speak one’s mind will be limited to those who celebrate and promote homosexuality.

    Yeah! Special rights for us!

  14. Jack says:

    Yup, that’s exactly what’s coming. Just look at Good News Employee Association vs. Hicks.

  15. David says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with you, Jack (I know how you hate that); no one has the right to shut down speech just because they don’t like it.

    Btw, the link was broken, here’s a better one: Good News Employee Association vs. Hicks

  16. Jack says:

    Thank you, my link just takes one into the comments section of the post. If you delete the part after the # sign, it takes you to the top of the page.

  17. David says:

    Ah, there it is. The townhall site must have been down. Sure is full of offensive speech, isn’t it?

  18. David says:

    Exactly, Doug. The distinction is between speech, however offensive it may be, and effecting tangible harm. If there is a pattern of purposeful violence perpetrated against people for being fat or bald, that also has the effect of fear and silencing on people who could be the next target. I don’t think there is such a pattern, but I could be wrong. There is no doubt whatsoever that the GLBT community, especially the T community, is such a target.

  19. Jack says:

    Now, at last, we come to the point! So, David, since there is no “pattern of purposeful violence perpetrated” against heterosexuals, then a homosexual-on-heterosexual attack, accompanied by anti-straight epithets, would not qualify for federal aid in the investigation?

  20. David says:

    Of course it would; you said you read the bill. Such an attack – although you’re right, it wouldn’t fit the established pattern – would clearly be motivated by bias “on the basis of sexual orientation.” That’s what the bill says, not “on the basis of the victim being GLBT.”

    My point was to accept your hypothetical example as a plausible one. If there were an established pattern of violence perpetrated against a particular group of people on the basis of some physical characteristic, then we would legitimately be talking about that. If another attribute, let’s call it “personal appearance,” were added to the hate crimes statute, it would be because of a pattern of violence directed at terrorizing a specific category of person, but, as in this case, the law wouldn’t be written to only apply to that category.

  21. Jack says:

    What is race but “personal appearance”?

    Anyway, now you are talking about there begin “an established pattern of violence” based on certain characteristics, such as race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. So the statute has the effect of punishing someone more harshly because others have committed similar crimes. In essence, you want to punish someone not only for his own crime, but for the crimes of others as well.

  22. David says:

    As several comments have pointed out, we recognize that there is something called “terrorism,” as distinct from random violence. The distinction is based on intentionality. The distinction between hate crimes and random violent crimes is also intentionality, yet you have said that “motivation is irrelevent” when it comes to violent crime. I just don’t see how you can have it both ways. I can’t imagine that you would argue that there is no such thing as terrorism, or that it can’t be distinguished from other violence.

    I think the real issue for many who oppose the current bill is that they don’t want there to be any suggestion of social opprobrium toward people who have violently angry reactions to GLBT people. I’m not saying that they necessarily condone these violent acts, but to have them legally acknowledged as a form of terrorism sends the unmistakable message that the underlying anti-gay bias is wrong. That explains the histrionics, and the lying, as in this missive that arrived yesterday from the American Family Association:

    …If pastors and other Christians don’t aggressively oppose a bill now in Congress, in the near future they will be subject to huge fines and prison terms if they say anything negative about homosexuality.

    The proposed law would make it a crime to preach on Romans Chapter 1 or I Corinthians Chapter 6. Or even to discuss them in a Sunday School class…

    To come up with this interpretation seems to me to be an admission of sorts. Are they saying that their own constitutionally protected speech might as well be physical violence?

  23. Jack says:

    I do not accept your definition of terrorism. In my definition, an act of terrorism is carried out by an organized group of people who intend multiple acts of violence, on civilian targets, for the purpose of attaining the goals of that group.

    For instance, IRA bombings are terrorism, as are Al Qaeda and Hamas attacks. Contrarywise, the Oklahoma City bombing was NOT terrorism.

    KKK attacks were also terrorism, but random attacks on Blacks, Jews, and Catholics were not.

    It is the group planning and the group goals that make certain crimes terrorist acts.

    Now, in my first comment here, I said that I disapprove of those groups’ tactics in this fight. So do not ask me to try to defend them, their thinking, or their motivations.

  24. Jack says:

    Doug, I know of no organization planning terrorist attacks against gays. I know of no attacks against on places where gays congregate, like the attack on the JCC by a Muslim extremist. I have heard of no gay bars being bombed, like the IRA did to Protestants. So I do not consider random attacks on GLBT people acts of “terrorism.”

    However, let us leave that argument aside for a moment.

    Looking at Title 18, Section 2331 of the United States Code, you seem to have the law on your side of the argument. If that is the case, such acts of terrorism against GLBT people are already federal crimes, and H.R.1592 is unnecessary.

  25. Russell says:

    opprobrium –
    1. the disgrace or the reproach incurred by conduct considered outrageously shameful; infamy.
    2. a cause or object of such disgrace or reproach.

    terrorism –
    1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
    2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
    3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
    the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear

  26. Russell says:

    Sorry .. reference =

  27. Jack says:

    “Terrorism n(1795): the systematic use of terror esp. as a means of coercion” — Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

    Both in Russell’s online dictionary, and my more solid one, we have the words “calculated” and “systematic.”

    Most anti-GLBT violence in neither calculated nor systematic. It is hatred. Random, ignorant, stupid hatred. It just does not rise to the level of terrorism. But that is just my opinion.

  28. David says:

    I don’t think you realize just how calculated and systematic some of the violence perpetrated against our community is. You are making a broad assumption, and I think it’s just because of a lack of information.

    Not only are victims commonly systematically stalked (for example, the guy who opened fire inside a Roanoke gay bar announcing that he wanted to “waste some faggots”), but the sheer intensity of the violence (what does, for example, stabbing a person over 100 times suggest to you?) goes way beyond some random, stupid outburst. Yes, it’s hatred alright, but I don’t think you understand the obsessive, extreme nature of that hatred.

    As for organizations, have you explored the activities of hate groups like the KKK and Stormfront lately?

    To claim that the targeting of our community is not calculated and does not have an ideological objective suggests an almost willful ignorance of basic information that is widely available.

  29. Jack says:

    I thought the KKK was out of business (except Sen. Byrd, of course). I’ve never heard of Stormfront before. They seem to be White Sumpremacists. However, I will grant that the usual pattern of such groups is that they are really People-Like-Us Supremacists, so they have gays, too. I did’t see anything about attacks carried out by group members, though. Do you have anything?

    Anyway, as I said, if such attacks are calculated, then they already fall under the terrorism laws, and this new law is not needed.

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