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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007

Right from the start, I must admit that I am not a proponent of "hate crimes" legislation. The entire idea is far too much in line with Thought Police Thinking. I have twice been physically assaulted for being a Christian during my lifetime and I understand that some people react physically towards ideas they cannot abide or a race or lifestyle they abhor. The thing is, we have laws in this country to prosecute crimes no matter what the impetus behind the crime or the thought process of the criminal! I am against adding or subtracting severity because the criminal hated the victim.

That being said, we come to the Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. I have been alerted by chaos-engineer and then scolded by lava for deliberately or carelessly presenting misinformation about that bill. Allow me to reply, first by excerpting the words of Ted Pike of the National Prayer Network:

"...the vast majority of Americans remain oblivious to the existence of the hate bill in Congress, or how it dangles like the blade of a guillotine over our precious and vulnerable liberty."

Why would he say such a thing? For one, laws like this have been enacted overseas with devastating results for personal liberties. For instance,

...such laws already have been used around the world, where in Canada pastors are fearful of reading biblical injunctions against homosexuality, and in Australia where two pastors were convicted of "vilifying" Islam.

The H.R. 254 plan, proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, is "stealth legislation at its most devious," Pike said earlier. He said people take a glance, and then say, "This bill just wants federal power to prosecute bias-motivated violent crimes in the states – what's wrong with that?"

"There's plenty wrong with that!" he said. First, the Constitution does not grant federal government the "police state privilege" of being your local law enforcement. "Unless the government finds evidence of slavery in the states, jury tampering, voter fraud, or crimes involving interstate commerce (where jurisdiction is unclear), the Constitution's message to the federal government is blunt and emphatic: 'Butt out of local law enforcement!'"

However, Pike said the authors of the new legislation have been clever, inserting in the proposal assertions that because five states do not have hate laws, the federal government has "no choice" but to "enhance federal enforcement of hate crimes." That includes new ranks of federal agents to address the "serious national problem" that exists.

Worse yet, there are some key phrases that open doors wide that many people don't want opened. For example, Pike said, the bill is to "prevent and respond to alleged violations," meaning "the government does not even have to wait until a hate crime has been committed but may act pre-emptively to 'prevent' crime."

Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth, noted that in Canada and France both, legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. Three years ago, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to put Pastor Ake Green, who preached that homosexuality is a sin, in jail for a month.

"And recently, a British couple told how they were denied the chance to adopt because it was determined that their Christian faith might 'prejudice' them against a homosexual child put in their care," LaBarbera added.

Already in the United States, Catholic Charities of Boston halted all adoption operations in the state after being told under Massachusetts' pro-'gay' nondiscrimination law, only agencies that placed children in homosexual-led households would get licensed by the state.

He suggested a visit to StopHateCrimesNow to hear the testimonies of those who have had first-hand experience with so-called "hate crimes" laws. A 75-year-old grandmother describes how she was jailed for testifying about the Bible, in the United States.

That last website is obviously posted to express a particular point of view that is contrary to the framers of the aforementioned act. I looked to find a website that was neutral, to see what viewpoint was being expressed abou the bill and the TVC response to the bill, and came upon this one. Here is an excerpt, and my comments:


I tend to be suspicious of hate crimes legislation, nonetheless, because it seems to me that the actual violence is a sufficient reason for action, and if that violence gets out of hand, then one can increase the law enforcement. This should occur no matter what the motivation for the violence is. Further, there seems to be a bit of a stretching effort here to justify federal involvement in these crimes.

So far I am in complete agreement

I’m especially suspicious when hate speech gets involved, but I’m not seeing that here. “Speech codes” strike me as both unliberal and unconservative–just plain unsound and dangerous.

Sounds like a way to take away 1st Amendment rights to me...but do go on!

That said, I simply do not see where the TVC gets their alert from the text of this bill. I would think it would be a clear, Christian duty to oppose violence against people irrespective of what we think of their lifestyle, character, sexual orientation, or anything else. The sole debate should be one of strategy. How do we best protect people from violence?

It is our Christian duty to protect people from violence but not from oppression? I disagree vehemently, for in any totalitarian society the restraints on free speech are among the biggest tools used to repress all freedoms and eventually rain down violence and death upon those who disagree with the "Powers That Be."

Laws against violence to others without regard to motivation are, and always have been, the means by which we as a society protect people from violence.

It may well be that this bill is not the best strategy, and as I said it raises certain questions with me. I would like to know just how much accomplishment we expect from the grants that will be given and the use of federal resources, and how such success would be measured. Will we revisit this particular item of spending after a period of time and see if it has accomplished its goals? You see, I’m not at all certain that it will accomplish those goals, or that it is the best way, and our representatives in Washington have this interesting way of making the spending look good, but leaving out the measurement of success.


Ah, money! Of course, legislation like this includes money to be doled out, what a surprise!

One option that occurs to me for dealing with violence is increasing law enforcement generally, not so that we can have big brother looking in every window, but so that we can give every crime of violence due attention, and pay professional police officers the wages due their professionalism, and hire new ones where officers fail to live up to that standard. Perhaps some reprioritizing might be useful, for example, from prosecuting minor drug offenses and in favor of dealing with more serious, violent crimes.

Sensible words.

But what is most clear to me is that the TVC response is not so much about the bill as about their own agenda. Let me ask this: How will holders of “traditional” values (as defined by the TVC) deal with violence against gays, lesbians, cross-dressers, and so forth? Or is that not an important issue to you?

Why artificially segment violence against these groups from violence against little old ladies or businessmen or black teenagers or any other group? The law is best when it is blind to color or race or creed or religion or motivation. This bill is a terrible idea, period!


Then, I came upon this website and copied this letter that was posted there, having been addressed to Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA 21st):


Letters To Leaders


All messages are published with permission of the sender. The general topic of this message is Children/Families:

Subject:
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act

To:
Rep. Devin Nunes

March 21, 2007

Representative Nunes:
Hate crimes are terrible but I feel it is important to make sure that if the government makes any legislation to prevent hate crimes, basic freedom of speech is still protected. I fear that this Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 will limit my ability to express my opinion. I do NOT believe that homosexuals are evil, but I DO believe that any act fornication or adultery (whether homo- or heterosexual in nature) is a sin and that it is my right to believe this and to say things that support this belief. If someone is offended by my ideas, I am sorry, but I, too, hear many ideas which offend me and I don't expect a law to be passed in order to stop all expression of these ideas just because they offend me. Part of living in a country with free speech is hearing things that you don't necessarily like to hear or that you don't agree with in any way.
I want all crimes based on hatred to be stopped, but I don't think that this form of legislation is the best way to go about it. In the end selfish people will twist its words in order to prevent certain types of speech which make them feel uncomfortable. In the end only the people who support all forms of sexual relations will be able to express themselves freely.
Please DO support any legislation which will prevent hate crimes, but make sure that the legislation can't be twisted to prevent the freedom of speech.
Thank you.

Tulare , CA

There you go! I am in basic agreement with the writer. I cannot fathom a reason for such a bill, other than to try to make political hay with a certain constituency at the expense of basic freedoms and/or to find another way to line somebody's pockets with grant monies down the line. Or, even worse, is the motivation to truly advance the idea of Politically Correct Thought Police, Federally Funded, looking over our shoulders to make sure we both say and do the things that the Party in Power mandate must be thought and said?

Just one comment...remove the "hate" from in front of the "crime" and then I will support what the writer has said entirely. Hate is a matter for the heart, a social issue, if you will. Attitudes and thoughts must not be subject to legislation. Crime is another matter. If hatred leads to a crime, the crime must be prosecuted vigorously and in that way the hate will be defeated to at least an extent. Prosecute crimes (against Gays or Christians or Blacks or Women or Hispanics or Asians or Bingo Players or NASCAR Fans or any group you wish to single out) to the fullest extent without regard to the thinking behind them and I will be in complete agreement with you.



10 comments:

Lava said...

First, have you read the proposed bill yet radar? The two articles cited by Pike(who I assume has no training in the law, I could be wrong though) and yourself are pretty far out there. Read the bill. This law would penalize people for WILLFULLY CAUSING BODILY INJURY to people on the basis of perceived race, color, religion, or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of any person. The articles you and pike cite have little to nothing to do with violant crimes motivated by "hate".

I'll get onto more of the points later.

radar said...

Lava, as you know, such legislation is called "hate crime" legislation. But label it "prejudice crime" or "stupidity crime" or anything else, I will still fight it.

1) I don't want to give activist, progressive judges more language to twist in order to attack and degrade the Constitution. They already have enough raw materials to assault our Constitution already.

2) I don't want to separate out crimes based upon motivation. Prosecute the crime, period.

3) I don't want the Feds taking on the job of local law enforcement. I am surprised that you are okay with that idea, frankly, lava.

Lava said...

The thing is, we have laws in this country to prosecute crimes no matter what the impetus behind the crime or the thought process of the criminal! I am against adding or subtracting severity because the criminal hated the victim.

Is it worse to assault someone because of their sex, race,...? Is this something we want to deter? Would less of this type of crime be better for society? Understanding the justification behind greater punishments for "hate" crimes requires an understanding of the theories behind the criminal justice system. Impetus or thought process, as you call it, is weighed in the criminal justice system all the time. Every Day. Probably thousands of times a day. It is why we have gradations of punishments for essentially the same act. Intent, premeditation, heat of the moment,...these are important and effect sentences because of the theories behind criminal justice.

However, Pike said the authors of the new legislation have been clever, inserting in the proposal assertions that because five states do not have hate laws, the federal government has "no choice" but to "enhance federal enforcement of hate crimes." That includes new ranks of federal agents to address the "serious national problem" that exists.

Read the whole bill. Above is one justification for the bill. Please, if we are to discuss this, you should read it.

I think either you or Pike is misinterpreting enhance to mean more agents. I don't read it that way at all.

Worse yet, there are some key phrases that open doors wide that many people don't want opened. For example, Pike said, the bill is to "prevent and respond to alleged violations," meaning "the government does not even have to wait until a hate crime has been committed but may act pre-emptively to 'prevent' crime."

Pike is sort of right here, but trying to start a needless fire. Prevention. The bill authorizes the grants. These will be education grants to inform and educate about diversity. PRE EMPTIVE ACTION DOES NOT mean sweep people off the street and throw them into Guantanamo with no due process...oh, sorry, getting into a whole nother topic there.

Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth, noted that in Canada and France both, legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. Three years ago, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to put Pastor Ake Green, who preached that homosexuality is a sin, in jail for a month.

"And recently, a British couple told how they were denied the chance to adopt because it was determined that their Christian faith might 'prejudice' them against a homosexual child put in their care," LaBarbera added.


Again, read the bill. We are not in Canada and France. We do have a bill of rights. And this is not about censoring speech as you and Pike and whomever else would like us to believe.

He suggested a visit to StopHateCrimesNow to hear the testimonies of those who have had first-hand experience with so-called "hate crimes" laws. A 75-year-old grandmother describes how she was jailed for testifying about the Bible, in the United States.

I couldn't get the video to work. Can someone give me more facts here?

I’m especially suspicious when hate speech gets involved, but I’m not seeing that here. “Speech codes” strike me as both unliberal and unconservative–just plain unsound and dangerous.

Sounds like a way to take away 1st Amendment rights to me...but do go on!


Did you read the bill? Really?



So I don't know quite where I stand with the federalism aspect of the law. If a state passes it I have no problem with it. The Fed Gment...I don't know, I need to think about it more.
But, what bothers me radar is I feel the only reason you and other fundies are writing about this is because it affords homosexuals some protections, and fundies generally hate any sort of legislation dealing with homosexuals(unless it is an amendment to a state constitution that requires law to not provide protection to people based on sexual orientation). If this was a bill that just included race based violence, would you have a problem with that(federalism issues aside)? Add gender based violence to that? I think I know the answer, but I don’t buy it. Correct me if I’m wrong, I believe the sexual orientation aspect of the law is what really gets under the skin of fundies, I guess they can’t stand the recognition of something they despise (why? I have no idea--- I wouldn’t mind being enlightened on that, radar).

Lava said...

I forgot to comment on the letter.

I DO believe that any act fornication or adultery (whether homo- or heterosexual in nature) is a sin and that it is my right to believe this and to say things that support this belief. If someone is offended by my ideas, I am sorry, but I, too, hear many ideas which offend me and I don't expect a law to be passed in order to stop all expression of these ideas just because they offend me.

To the writer of that letter: AHHHHHHHH! Understand the bill!!! IT IS NOT A CRIME TO SAY SOMETHING SEXIST, RACIST, OR HOMOPHOBIC!!!!Don't worry. Just don't beat up, main, kill, kipnap, hold hostage, slap, kick, knife, shoot,... someone based on their race, religion, sexual orientation... WE ARE NOT CURTAILING FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS HERE!

IAMB said...

First off, it's been a while, Radar, so I thought I'd start by saying hello and hoping you and yours are doing well.

Now for the question...

2) I don't want to separate out crimes based upon motivation. Prosecute the crime, period.

We already do in a way with the varying degrees of murder, manslaughter, etc. Motivation plays a huge part in distinguishing between them. Does this mean you also support removing said degrees? Just curious...

radar said...

IAMB, thanks, hope you are well. By the way, I don't believe that the differentiation between manslaughter and murder is based upon motivation, but rather, circumstances.

Second, I do believe motivation enters into the proceedings, but not in terms of the enforcement of the law. Motivation enters in during the judicial phase. First, when the charges are brought and considered. Murder is murder and motivation is not a consideration in seeking out and apprehending a suspect. However, to what degree the prosection seeks to charge the accused and what the judge will allow and what the jury will consider, motivations may then enter in. Certainly when the penalty is being considered. In prescribing a penalty, the judge must consider motivations and circumstances that might mitigate the offense in sentencing the defendant. Conversely, the judge may give a maximum sentence based on the motivations of the culprit. I am satisfied that the law already has made allowances for these considerations during courtroom proceedings and that there is no need to attempt to lengthen the arm of the judiciary at the risk of injustice.

I will address the racial/homosexual angle to this in a posting this evening.

Lava said...

(1)Radar, the difference between manslaughter and murder is Mens Rea or State of Mind. I really have no idea what you mean when you say the difference between the two is circumstances.

(2)Have you read the bill? Your last comment shows you that you lack an understanding of what this bill penalizes. You can still hand out pamphlets promoting something religious. You can still have a Nazi Rally. The KKK is still free to make their hate speech. You can be as homophobic, or racist, or as sexist, or as anti-religious or pro-religious as you want.

Second, I do believe motivation enters into the proceedings, but not in terms of the enforcement of the law.
This whole paragraph isn't really coherent, but I think what you are trying to say is motivation of the criminal should only be weighed in the proceedings, not in the enforcement of the law. That is to say, A crime is a crime and a crime should be prosecuted.

Well, if you have read this bill, you will not be prosecuted for anything unless you first "WILLFULLY CAUSE BODILY INJURY". That means a crime, even without the "hate" part of the bill, has to be committed first. You can't just get arrested for the "hate" part.

Here are relevant portions of the bill. Please read them.

`(a) In General-

`(1) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person--
`(A) shall be imprisoned . . .
`(ii) the offense includes kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.

`(2) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, OR DISABILITY-

`(A) IN GENERAL- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, in any circumstance described in subparagraph (B), willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability of any person--
`(i) shall be imprisoned ...
`(ii) shall be imprisoned ...

radar said...

Lava.

Incoherent? You are!!! *virtual sticking out of tongue or other gestures less genteel as needed*

I've read the portions of the bill that were forwarded to me previously that included some dangerous language and tried to avoid the parts that looked tedious. I am glad to read any one portion people consider important to their point of view, such as the excerpts you shared with us.

You kill somebody, it is a crime. If it is an accident, you may be charged with manslaughter. If you did it on purpose (different circumstances now) then it is a form of murder. Once it is murder, then many considerations arise and intent is at the top of the list, agreed.

No matter, I vehemently oppose the bill as irrelevant at best and evil at worst. At best it truly adds nothing to our present laws. Assault and Murder are already on the books, we don't need one law specific to crimes by racists against other races or homophobes against homosexuals since the crime itself demands punishment. At worst, it is an attempt to stifle free speech and all opposition to homosexual agendas.

Let's try this, suppose you give me a good reason why we need such a bill?

IAMB said...

Good to hear you're well, Radar. I'm busier than I'd like, but that's life and I enjoy it anyway...

One small thing (I was married into a detective family, if you remember):

Murder is murder and motivation is not a consideration in seeking out and apprehending a suspect.

I'm hoping you meant something other than what I got out of this, or you're so far wrong on this that I can hardly explain. In short, solving a murder often involves knowing as much as possible about motivation. That's one of the first things to consider in paring down the list of possible suspects. Knowing not only the possible motivation, but also the concrete details of the crime are essential to creating a suspect profile (this applies to nearly every type of crime... not just the violent type).

Also, I wasn't referring only to the difference between manslaughter and murder, of which motivation and circumstance both come into play, but also the degrees of murder. Motivation is extremely important when it comes to the difference between one, two and three.

Nothing further, for the moment...

Wait, I forgot: Happy Easter!

Anonymous said...

"The Earliest 'Hate' Criminals" on Yahoo and Google says it all! Read it all to see what I mean. F.B.