Hate Crimes Legislation Distortion Awards
Tomorrow will be a historic vote in the House of Representatives about adding lgbts to hate crimes legislation.
I thought that I would take time out to honor those who went far and beyond the call of duty to distort the law. I want to do this today because I may not be in a celebratory mood tomorrow.
How the anti-gay industry behaved in their zeal to defeat hate crimes legislation is not new on their part. During the 1993 hearings on gays in the military, they stooped to scaring people with Paul Cameronesque lies about gay and lesbian sexual habits.
This time, however, things were different.
Because of blogs, every lie they told was dissected and refuted. So lgbts can take comfort in the fact, regardless of how tomorrow's vote may turn out, that more Americans have seen the anti-gay industry for what they truly are and not the upstanding Christians they have claimed to be.
Now, onto the awards:
Except for in a few cases, I have already documented these lies in past blog postings so I don't feel the need to reference all of them. However, if anyone wants me to link any information I have to its original source, just ask.
Best exploitation of a religious image - The Traditional Values Coalition for their flyer featuring an image of Jesus. According to this flyer, Jesus would be prosecuted for "hate crimes" if lgbts are added to the categories protected under the legislation. The organization claimed this even though the legislation explicitly speaks against violent actions, not speech and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality.
Best lie told about hate crimes legislation - The Tradtional Values Coalition for their distortion of Congressman Louis Gohmert's question during the House Judicial Hearing last week.
As I chronicled in yesterday's post, Lou Sheldon sent out an action alert claiming that the legislation could cause pastors to get arrested if the said pastor preached against homosexuality and a member of his congregation went out and committed a crime against an lgbt.
This is what Sheldon said in his action alert:
Congressman (Louis) Gohmert asked, “If a minister was giving a sermon, a Bible study or any kind of written or spoken message saying that homosexuality was a serious sin and a person in the congregation went out and committed a crime against a homosexual would the minister be charged with the crime of incitement?”
This is the actual quote that Sheldon distorted:
". . .if a minister preaches that sexual relations outside of marriage of a man and woman is wrong, and somebody within that congregation goes out and does an act of violence, and that person says that that minister counseled or induced him through the sermon to commit that act, are you saying under your amendment that in no way could that ever be introduced against the minister"
Special sell-out award - Ministers Harold Jackson and the other black ministers who held a press conference opposing the legislation. They claimed that the legislation would lead to pastors not being able to preach against homosexuality.
This is a lie. The legislation covers violent action, not speech.
Let me be clear on the fact that Jackson and company did not get this award because they oppose hate crimes legislation. They were chosen because they used the same fear tactics that white racists used to deny African-Americans their rights under law. Just like white racists made wild claims against integration, Jackson and company made wild claims against the hate crimes legislation. What's more, my cynicism tells me that Jackson and company were fully aware that what they were saying were lies:
White racists - we can't integrate because it will lead to mixing of the races. Black men will have sex with white women and that will lead to mongrelization. Both races will suffer.
Harold Jackson and the black ministers - We can't add lgbts to hate crimes legislation because it will lead to pastors not being able to preach against homosexuality.
If there is any difference in these claims, someone please let me know.
Best exploitation of current events/i.e. tragedies to stop hate crimes legislation
- Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Matt Barber of the Concerned Women for America. Both of these folks tried to link the tragedy at Virginia Tech to their view of hate crimes legislation.
Tony Perkins - "Under this legislation, the crimes at Virginia Tech, which some are calling one of the deadliest rampages in U.S. history, would not be punishable to the level of these so-called "hate crimes." If the House approves H.R. 1592 and the Senate follows, a homosexual would have more federal protection under the law than the 32 victims of last week's massacre."
Matt Barber - "The FBI's latest statistics show that there were zero 'hate crimes' murders committed against homosexuals or those perceived to be homosexual in 2005; yet we already know of thirty-two so-called 'hate crimes' murders committed against perceived 'rich kids' in a single day. But under H.R. 1592, those 'rich kids' would shamefully be denied the same protections and justice as homosexuals. The whole 'hate crimes' concept really places logic and reason on its head"
Best distortion of the name of the hate crimes legislation- Tie - The Traditional Values Coalition - Cross Dressing Bill or Drag Queen Bill
Janet Folger and Faith2Action - Jail Grandma Bill
The Sexy Award - the attempt by the American Family Association to link hate crimes legislation to all sorts of freaky sexy behavior. It was a matter of time before someone got nasty:
Donald E. WildmonFounder and Chairman
May 1, 2007
Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.
A message from Chuck Colson
Please take the time to read the enclosed article by Chuck Colson. Click here.
This law does not define "sexual orientation," leaving open the definition of the term. To see all the behaviors covered by the term "sexual orientation," please click here. Warning! This listing is offensive.
There is still time to make your voice heard. Please call your representative in Washington today. The vote is scheduled for this Thursday. Tell him or her that you strongly oppose the Hate Crimes Act. Mr. Colson rightly refers to it as the Thought Control bill.
You can reach your representative at 202-224-3121. Please ask your friends to call also.
Thank you for caring enough to get involved.
Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and ChairmanAmerican Family Association
Y'all can click if you want to but I wouldn't recommend it. Where in the hell did they find this stuff?
Donald Wildmon, Chuck Colson - you both need Jesus!
The obedient sheep award - To all of the so-called "pro-family" web pages and blogs who repeated anti-gay industry lies (especially Sheldon's distortion of the Congressman's quote) verbatim without reading the legislation in question.
The "you are a hypocrite and you know it but most of all, God knows it" award - To all of the web pages and blogs who repeated anti-gay industry lies about hate crimes legislation even after reading the actual legislation. You know who you are and most of all, God knows it.
For those of you who want success tomorrow in getting hate crimes legislation passed, don't forget to contact your legislators and inform them that people calling in against the legislation are being misled. And tell them to vote for the legislation because it the only fair thing to do:
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Hate is neither a Democratic nor an American Value. Hate crimes involve the purposeful selection of victims for violence and intimidation based on bias against their perceived attributes. These crimes are distinguished from, and go far beyond, mere expression of belief. They materially and unacceptably interfere with the full participation of all Americans in the fundamental liberties enjoyed in our democratic society.
As Americans, we must take a strong stand against violence committed against our neighbors for simply being themselves. The purpose of our government, first and foremost, is to protect all of our citizens - whether they are black, disabled, Christian or gay. While a random act of violence against any individual is always a tragic event, violent crimes based on prejudice have a much stronger impact because the motive behind the crime is to terrorize an entire community. These hate crimes chip away at the very foundations of our democracy - that all citizens are created equal and are afforded the same freedoms and protections. House Passage of HR 1592 will send the powerful message that the Democratic Party stands for tolerance and inclusion, and is opposed to prejudice in all its forms.
Why the Law Is Needed. There's a reason why the bill has been supported by 31 state Attorneys General and the leading law enforcement organizations - because, despite progress toward equality in almost all segments of our society - hate crimes continue to spread fear and violence among entire communities of Americans and law enforcement lack the tools and resources to prevent and prosecute them. In 2003, the FBI announced that there were more than 9,000 reported hate violence victims in the United States - almost 25 victims a day, or approximately one hate crime every hour. Since 1991, the FBI has received reports of more than 113,000 hate crimes.
What the Law Will Do
Protects First Amendment Rights. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act protects the First Amendment rights of the accused by prohibiting the introduction of evidence of association or expression to prove that a crime has been committed, unless it specifically relates to the offense. The legislation does not punish, nor prohibit in any way, name-calling, verbal abuse or expressions of hatred toward any group, even if such statements amount to hate speech. It covers only violent criminal actions. During proceedings on the bill, the Judiciary Committee explicitly noted that nothing in this legislation would prohibit the lawful expression of ones deeply held religious beliefs. To further ensure that there was no ambiguity on this point, an additional amendment offered by Rep. Davis, was adopted by voice vote at markup explicitly stating that conduct protected under the 1st Amendment free expression and free exercise clauses was not subject to prosecution.
Expands Protected Crimes. It is time to bring hate crimes law into the 21st century. The current federal law, enacted nearly 40 years ago, limits federal jurisdiction over hate crimes to incidents directed against individuals on the basis of race, religion, color or national origin - but only when the victim is targeted because he/she is engaged in a federally protected activities, such as voting. The legislation broadens this provision to cover all violent crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin when the defendant causes bodily injury, or attempts to cause bodily injury through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive device.
Extends Existing Protections to More Americans. HR 1592 expands current law to prohibit the same conduct, if such conduct were motivated on the basis of the victim's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability under a wider range of federal jurisdictional circumstances than federally protected activities. The federal government - through decades of civil rights and criminal law-has a history of combating crimes based on prejudice. HR 1592 merely expands the current law to include groups that have historically been affected by violence. This legislation sends a strong and clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated and brings more uniformity and fairness to existing law.
Assists Local Law Enforcement. State and local authorities currently prosecute the overwhelming majority of hate crimes and will continue to do so under this legislation. The special attention that these crimes require can stretch local law enforcement officials beyond their capacity. Thus, the major focus of the bill is allowing the Federal government to provide crucial federal resources to state and local agencies to equip local officers with the tools they need to prosecute hate crimes. The legislation also authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to state and local law enforcement agencies that have incurred extraordinary expenses associated with the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.
Requirements for Federal Prosecution. The bill ensures that the Federal prosecution of hate crimes is limited to cases that implicate the greatest Federal interest and present the greatest need for Federal intervention. Only in specific, limited instances will the Federal government prosecute crimes under this Act. Furthermore, the bill requires certification, by the Attorney General or other specified high-ranking Department of Justice official, prior to prosecution. The certifying individual must have ''reasonable cause to believe that the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person was a motivating factor underlying the alleged conduct of the defendant.'' The certifying individual must also have consulted with State or local law enforcement officials regarding the prosecution and determined that one of the following situations is present:
(1) the state does not have jurisdiction or does not intend to exercise jurisdiction;
(2) the state has requested that the Justice Department assume jurisdiction;
(3) the state does not object to the Justice Department assuming jurisdiction; or
(4) the state has completed prosecution and the Justice Department wants to initiate a
Broadens the Collection of Important Statistics. HR 1592 would amend the HCSA to require that the FBI collect statistics on gender and gender identity-related bias crimes, as well as juvenile victims and offenders. Under current law, such statistics are collected on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disability.
Supporters of the bill
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act has broad public and bipartisan support. The Act was introduced on March 20, 2007, by Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL), Barney Frank (D-MA), Christopher Shays (R-CN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Mary Bono (R-CA), with 137 cosponsors. Earlier versions of the bill have passed both houses of Congress in recent years, only to fall victim to partisan politics.
In fact, the Bill is supported by thirty one state Attorneys General and over 280 national law enforcement, professional, education, civil rights, religious, and civic organizations. Such notable associations and individuals who support the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act include: National Sheriffs' Association; International Association of Chiefs of Police; National District Attorneys Association (NDAA); Presbyterian Church; Episcopal Church; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR); National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); National Council of La Raza (NCLR); Human Rights Campaign (HRC); Parent's Network on Disabilities.
The Act also receives strong support by the majority of Americans. According to a new poll conducted by Peter Hart Research Associates, three in four (or 73 percent) of voters favor strengthening hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity and to give local law enforcement the tools they need to prevent and prosecute these violent acts based on bigotry.
Examples of Crimes Not Covered by Current Law
Targeted for disability, Linden, TX
Billy Ray Johnson suffered severe permanent brain damage after an attack where he was left unconscious in a trash dump. Four white men lured Billy Ray, a mentally challenged African-American man, to a cow pasture where they harassed him with racial insults and beat him unconscious. The four men escaped any felony criminal charges. Billy Ray Johnson suffered serious brain injuries from which he will never fully recover. A Texas jury recently awarded Billy Ray $9 million in civil damages to cover his future medical needs. (April 21, 2007, Chicago Tribune)
Targeted for gender identity, Twin Falls, NE
Brandon Teena, 21, was raped and later killed by two friends after they discovered he was biologically female. After the rape and assault, Teena reported the crime to the police, but they called Teena "it" and did not allow his deputies to arrest the two men responsible. Five days later, on Christmas Day 1993, the two men found Teena and shot and stabbed him to death. The movie "Boys Don't Cry" was based on Teena's story.
Targeted for sexual orientation , Austin, TX
Four men attacked a gay man heading home from a gay bar. The attackers forced him to sodomize himself with a sex toy at knife and sword point while they recited biblical passages condemning such acts. Then, the attackers beat and robbed him. (Daily Texan via University Wire, August 4, 2005)