WWW The Thinkery
Thursday, May 10, 2007
(9:46 AM) | Stephen:
Hate Crimes

The recent passing of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592) is a bit step toward recognizing that women, the disabled and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community are regularly targeted not as individuals, but as members of a group. Federal law already covers ethnicity, national origin and religion, so this bill is not a new thing at all.

Predictably, conservative religious groups are leading the charge against this legislation, crying foul over the "thought police" expanding their reach. Such concern over pastors' ability to continue preaching the type of sermons they want to preach makes me wonder just what these guys are saying on Sunday morning.

Of course their fears are unfounded; this legislation criminalizes nothing. What it does is make it possible for the federal government to pursue charges if certain standards for evidence are met. My understanding is that the original hate crimes legislation was drafted because of the reluctance from local police and prosecutors, in certain parts of the country, to pursue cases involving victims who were ethnic minorities. In countless cases since the original hate crimes legislation was signed into law, the pressure and action of the federal government has been the only hope of justice for minorities being victimized by Caucasians.

The basis for this legislation is the same. Women still find it very hard to find justice in our courts, the idiot DA in North Carolina notwithstanding. Homosexuals and especially the transgendered have an especially difficult time in our justice system. Imagine a Rush Limbaugh aficionado or fan of the execrable Michael Savage sitting on a jury charged with weighing the fate of a man using the Gay Panic Defense against charges that he murdered a homosexual man.

But really, all this talk about "hate crimes" is disingenuous, though not purposefully so. And the term itself is way too loaded for us. It's easy for people to manipulate the discussion into one about the private thoughts of the perpetrator, which they then claim that as terrible as they may be, they are protected. We can have any opinion we want, critics say, and that's true.

What we need to do is change the frame of reference from a vague notion of a "hate crime" to a term that is far more accurate and better at conveying just what it is the federal legislation is supposed to deal with.

The issue we're dealing with is terrorism. When a bomb is left outside a women's clinic in Austin, that's not a hate crime. It's terrorism. When a homosexual man is murdered because he is a homosexual man, the entire homosexual community is affected by this crime. It's murder as message, violence in the name of making a political as well as a personal point. That is terrorism.

There is no need for us to see terrorists under every rock and every crime as terrorism. But we as a nation also need to grow up a little bit and get rid of the adolescent fantasy of American exceptionalism, that a group of Arabic men with a cache of guns in their homes are "terrorists" while a group of white men with a cache of guns in their homes make up a "militia." When the intent of a crime is to terrorize a community, the perpetrator should be prosecuted accordingly. It's that simple, and changing the terminology to reflect this would certainly make it more difficult for the arguments against this type of legislation to gain a foothold.



<< Home
About The Thinkery
Site feed

Recent Entries
Reading Food Labels
Melamine Poisoning Update
The Fort Dix Six
Ruth And Naomi
Concise History Of Black-White Relations In The US...
Typical Kline
Round And Round We Go
Akinola Damns Himself As A Heretic
Friday Mildly Funny
American Food Is Not Made From Food Anymore

Contributors

Stephen

Blogroll
Ezra Klein
Slacktivist
Eschaton
litbrit
Harp and Sword
Shakesville
Brilliant At Breakfast
In This Moment
Theologoumenon
Adversaria
Faith and Theology
Theology and Biblical Studies
Internet Monk
Boar's Head Tavern
Jesus Creed
Sacra Doctrina
Khora
Maggi Dawn
Shadows of Divine Things
Chrisendom
Leithart
Foolish Sage
Per Caritatem
James K.A. Smith
Theoloblog
The Ethical Werewolf
A Pedestrian View
Brilliant At Breakfast

Archives
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
March 2008
January 2075

Powered by Blogger

My Ecosystem Details>