Fundamentalists and Hate Crimes

The fundamentalists are roiling about H.R. 1592. So much so that they are resorting to pretty awful arguments, suggesting that this bill takes away their right to preach. From a World Net Daily post by Bob Unruh (via Pam):

“H.R. 1592 is a discriminatory measure that criminalizes thoughts, feelings, and beliefs [and] has the potential of interfering with religious liberty and freedom of speech,” according to a white paper submitted by Glen Lavy, of the Alliance Defense Fund.

This is a pretty poor argument. The bill itself simply adds sexual orientation to existing hate crime law. However, check out the severability section at the end:

If any provision of this Act, an amendment made by this Act, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and the application of the provisions of such to any person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.

So it clearly does not have “the potential of interfering with religious liberty and freedom of speech”. There is an exception built into the language of the bill. The bill simply recognizes that hate crimes perpetuated on the basis of sexual orientation have the same weight as those based on race, religion, gender, nationality, etc. It also provides funding and personel to assist with “the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes”.
So what reason could a political group that is well acquainted with the art of gradualism possibly have for objecting to this specific bill?

Perhaps they are afraid that passing a law which states homosexuals might have rights too could lead to other laws tackling rights and discrimination based on sexual orientation. Like marriage or adoption.

Sometimes people are willing to sacrifice others for their own bigotry. We saw this recently in Virginia. In this case that same feat is driving the fundamentalists to oppose protection against hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

We can help. Pam has some ideas:

Help pass hate crimes legislation.

[UPDATE: Rachel Perrone of the ACLU emailed me to say that the House Majority Leader’s office projects that the bill will go to the House floor next Thursday. It’s time to contact your members of Congress, because they have been flooded with correspondence from the fundies, some offices reporting as many as 500-600 constituent letters generated from action items spurred on by the likes of Wildmon, Dobson, Perkins and Sheldon on the other side.]

The Human Rights Campaign’s Take Action page leads off with this sobering quote:

One in six hate crimes are motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, and yet today’s federal laws don’t include any protections for these Americans.

The debate over H.R. 1592 has nothing to do with freedom of religion or speech. It is a debate over whether or not we give the same legal weight to hate crimes based on sexual orientation we do to those based on gender, nationality, religion or race. It is about whether we let a few people who are afraid of homosexuals loving each other and marrying control the law in this country.


8 Responses

  1. If you’re a winger, killing a fag or a dyke is acceptable.

    These people see our lives as having less value than their own and so antigay violence and even homicide is viewed differently by them.

    Most say, “well, they had it coming…..”

  2. I think you touched upon the reasons they would lie cheat and steal to oppose this legislation. They have a surrender no ground mentality. The thought (if you can call it that) behind it is if they give ground here, it will lead to a “domino effect” of gay marriage and other basic human rights. Of course this tactic almost always fails and I believe it will eventually to the hate mongers as well. But while it will make the fight to secure the most basic rights for all people more difficult, in the end decency will prevail.

  3. I remember reading about a man from Houston, TX who was kidnapped leaving a gay bar by a group of high school heros carrying baseball bats and knives.

    These Texas honeys, forced the man into a car and they drove to his bank ATM, making him withdraw the maximum funds allowed in a single withdrawal: $350.

    The kidnappers then forced their victim back in their car and they drove to a remote area outside Houston where they had a special surprise for the man. They beat him to death and dumped his body in the dark night.

    The Harris County D.A. successfully charged these 17 year olds as adults and the leader was convicted of MURDER ONE. But the appeals judge reduced the jury sentence saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) that the teenager had “no prior conviction and he was a football hero, so let’s show him mercy and give him a chance to redeem himself.”

    The subtext of this story — a factual event is, the victim was a gay man. Had the victim been a 24 year blonde, female college senior, the killer would be on death row at Huntsville today. But the victom was only a homosexual and gays don’t carry the same instrinic value in this culture.

  4. For the sake of discussion Fitness, if you don’t mind me calling you by your first name, how are you defining Fundamentalist? Because a broad crowd seems to have been lumped together by those reading: those fighting for religious freedom, wingers who don’t mind the killing of fags and dykes, hatemongers who lie, cheat and steal to deny people their human rights, and those willing to beat to death homosexuals or at least cover it up. A motley crew to say the least.

  5. Christopher,
    Dehumanization is always ugly, even more so when it hides behind scripture and let’s religion take the bullets.

    We need a surrender no ground mentality! This makes me want to stand up and roar! I like your optimism.

    Unfortunately I think you are right on. But then again, I think we could find a number of groups, and even ages, where the percieved intrinsic value of the victim is lessened.

    Silent Administrator,
    Heh. My first name.
    In the small comments section here, crowd is not so broad. Those fighting for religious freedom are not referenced at all. As for the rest, those who don’t mind murder, those who commit murder, and the hatemongers who attack human rights all share their hatred for homosexuals and the desire to dehumanize them.

    As for a fundamentalist, there are two definitions that leap out at me.
    Religious: Think of religion as a scale. On one side, fundamentalism, where a holy book is an absolute authority. On the other, mysticism, where personal experience is the authority.
    Political: Anyone who advocates for their holy book as a source of law and political authority. A fundamentalist thinks the laws of the land should be in accord with the Bible (or whatever holy book is most prevalent in a particular country).

  6. Does there have to be a dichotomy of authority? Holy book and personal experience?

  7. Of course not. You can have people in the middle of the scale.

  8. […] hate crime legislation you disagree with explicitly protects first amendment rights. What is so damn alluring about being able to commit hate crimes? And why is […]

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