Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hate Crimes & Free Speech

Dear America--

I know we are all concerned with the economy, whether we fear the Stimulus or hopeful of it, and I know we're all concerned about our moral and ethical integrity, from torture to marriage, from education to childrearing. But let me give you this one bit of hope: Hate Crimes legislation does not in any way stiffle free speech. Reading HR 1913 (the hates crime bill just passed in the US House of Representatives), it seems to provide money for local law enforcement and expands the definition of "hate crime," a definition from Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. And HR 1913 is limited to crimes of violence that are felonies under state, local, or tribal laws, and are bias modivated.

(A)IN GENERAL -- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law ... wilfully 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
Why do people only bring up sexual orientation and gender identity? Why not scream religious intolerance about the religion clause? Huh? It's not okay for a pastor to say mean things about, say, Muslims Jews, but it is absolutely okay to make someone mad enough about gays and trans* folk that they go out and commit a crime.

The Hope for America posted a video from an Iowa Congressman talking crap on this hate crimes law and the Iowa Supreme Court (for "forcing" same-sex marriage on Iowa). I would hope America understands that spending three days with a woman and then killing her for being born with male parts was entirely a bias-modivated crime. She wouldn't have died had she been born cisgendered. But, apparently, hate crimes are all about monitoring throught.

It's not about the thought; it's about the crime. Do we look at, say, Nazis and never point out their bias? In fact, when we look at Nazi crimes, we generally only look at one side of their bias. We don't just say "Nazis killed 10 million people" so we acknowledge bais modivating crimes. Why not make sure people are punished for their "crimes of passion" because of their bigotry? It's not forcing a pastor to say nice things about gays or trans* people. It's about punishing people and acknowledging the severity of crimes that are hate-modivated. The US Attorney General has required local law enforcement to track hate-modivated crimes for years (though, having retrieved the information from Sedgwick County law enforcement makes me believe it's not actually being looked at). We know these crimes happen; punish them accordingly

No comments: