It's a relief to know that the 111th Congress (you know, the one that doesn't have enough time to debate trillion-dollar spending sprees) has found time to examine the most important issues of the day.
Two weeks ago, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) quietly re-introduced the so-called hate crimes bill — H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Crimes (already illegal) will be considered "hate crimes" depending on the intent of the criminal.
Questions for proponents of "hate crimes" legislation:
- Why should we try to make distinctions between hate crimes and other types of crime?
- Federal hate crimes legislation defines hate crime on the basis of the motivation, perceptions and the prejudices of the perpetrator. Can we reliably determine the motivations, perceptions and prejudices of the accused? If so, how?
- When we classify crimes according to motivation, prejudice and perception, are we not entering into the realm of thoughtcrime?
- The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide for technical, forensic, prosecutorial and financial assistance (up to $100,000) in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any hate crime. Would this not give local and state law enforcement the incentive to prosecute cases involving preferred victims to the exclusion and neglect of less valuable victims?
- Should we grant preferential treatment to all persons who have been targeted for their sexual orientation? What about pedophiles?
- Federal hate crimes legislation recognizes prejudice against race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity (a new one), and disability. Why not recognize prejudice against age, body type, political orientation, and veteran status?
These are not academic or philosophical questions. It is important to understand why proponents of hate crimes legislation are inclined to make the distinction between so-called hate crimes and all others. Under the 14th Amendment, victims of violent crime are currently afforded equal protection under the law regardless of sexual preference, race, age, body type or any other aspect of their identity. So what is accomplished by giving certain groups preferential treatment, special recognition and extra re$ources? Is it a clever attempt to undermine the First Amendment by intimidating those who might otherwise be inclined to speak out against the preferred groups?
How else can a person's "motivations, perceptions and prejudices" be determined except by examining his choice of words?
If supporters of hate crimes are seriously interested in protecting vulnerable groups, why not demonstrate their commitment by expanding protection for victims who are targeted for their political orientation? The absence of consideration for political persecution is conspicuous, and it heightens concerns about an utter disregard for the First Amendment.
How about explicitly excluding pedophiles from the list of those who would be eligible special assistance under the provisions of the hate crimes legislation? Nope. The Dems have summarily declared that this is "unnecessary...and inflammatory in terms of insinuations." End of discussion.
How about expanding the definition of hate crimes to protect veterans and members of the military? Representative Tom Rooney, a retired U.S. Army JAG Corps. officer, proposed and amendment to do just that. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D - FL) was shocked and insulted:
“I'm from a state, as Mr. Rooney is, that includes and represents the districts that include real victims. I represent a very large — one of the largest gay populations in the United States of America. One of the largest Jewish populations in the United States of America. My region — our region has a very large African-American population. It really is belittling of the respect that we should have for these groups to suggest that members of the armed services have somehow systematically been the victims of hate crimes." (emphasis provided)
I suppose Wasserman has a good point. If a powerful organization such as the Federal Government of the U.S.A. had ever singled out veterans and portrayed them as a bunch of disgruntled, violent, white-supremacist, lone wolf wannabe terrorists (all formed from the Timothy McVeigh mold) perhaps we would be inclined to think veterans might need heightened protection. But veterans are treated only with the utmost respect in Obama's America...and they certainly aren't real victims.
Sean Hannity expresses the same sentiments, minus the sarcasm:
"Congresswoman, including our soldiers in this bill wouldn't belittle anybody. I think you and Janet Napolitano need to revisit your opinion of our veterans.
"Now I'm personally opposed to hate crime legislation because I feel you are trying to punish people for their thoughts or perceived thoughts, but if you are going to have it, excluding veterans would be a crime."
Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009