Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Question is Why

I can't find any original documention for this, but AmericaBlog is reporting that Stephen Bennett, a high-profile minister who claims that gay people can become straight, is planning a meeting with President Bush. Apparently he announced this in an email newsletter.

The issue is a new hate-crime bill that's going through Congress. Seems the law as it's written gives a stiffer sentence for hate crimes than, y'know, regular crimes, and it includes "sexual orientation" among the usual race, religion, and so on. So, you beat up a guy for harassing your girlfriend, that's one thing. You beat up a guy because he's black, or because he's Arabic, or gay, and the sentence is worse.

Well, the Stephen Bennetts of the world don't think that's fair. They want Our Leader to veto this bill.

Here's what the Focus on the Family site Citizen Link put up yesterday:
A new hate-crimes bill introduced earlier this month in Congress may eventually pass both Houses, pro-family experts say. The president's help may be needed to keep it from becoming law.

The House Judiciary Committee has begun consideration of H.R.254, sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. The legislation is similar to measures passed by the House in 2005 and by the Senate in 2004.

The Lee bill seeks to establish a new federal offense for hate crimes and would mandate a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses tried under its provisions. A sentence of life imprisonment could await those convicted.

Focus on the Family Action, and other pro-family groups, oppose the bill.

"We oppose hate-crimes laws because they do not equally protect all Americans as the U.S. Constitution demands," said Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy for Focus on the Family Action. Hate-Crimes Legislation Reappears

We note that the "ex-gay" groups are especially adamant about this; Alan Chambers, the head of a major "ex-gay" organization, is quoted in this Family Blah-Blah article:
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, the nation's largest network of ex-gay ministries, said the objection to hate-crimes legislation isn't just theoretical -- it has actually been used to prosecute Christians for their beliefs about homosexuality, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Uh, yeah, this law could be used to prosecute Christians who act on their beliefs that gay people deserve to be beaten and killed. Terrible. Just terrible, and not fair.

It's interesting, with all the bad stuff in the world, that this is what it comes down to for these guys: tolerating hatred.

Let's say Stephen Bennett used to be gay and now he's really not. OK, the "Applause" sign is blinking, thank you, thank you ladies and gentlemen. So tell me how, logically, you get from "God loves me and helped me to be straight," which is what his message is, to "Beating and killing people because they're gay is no worse than beating and killing people for any other reason?" I mean, why would you put everything on the line for that, of all things?

I think these guys are walking a tightrope here. Of all the positive messages they could promote, they decide to try to justify hate? When do they realize they've toppled over the edge of decency?

They'd like you to think this is some kind of thought-police situation, but look, here's what the law is about -- it's an amendment to the existing law:
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 device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person ...

... will get ten years in prison ...
... the acts committed in violation of this paragraph include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill ...

So... naw, this isn't about thoughts, this is about committing violent acts based on the kind of person somebody is.

The issue here is not really whether hate-crime laws do anything, the question is ... why are these guys going to go all the way to the President of the United States to try to get lighter sentences for people who kidnap, rape, beat, and kill gays?

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"why are these guys going to go all the way to the President of the United States to try to get lighter sentences for people who kidnap, rape, beat, and kill gays?"

Typical TTF rhetorical flourish. Nobody wants lighter sentences "for people who kidnap, rape, beat, and kill gays." they want the same laws and sentences applied to injuring gays that apply to everyone else.

This continuing effort for special protection for gays is a national problem. It needs to be resisted.

January 18, 2007 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Affirmative Action needs to be resisted

January 18, 2007 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why? Are you saying racial minorities are like homosexuals?

January 18, 2007 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minorities are minorities and special protections are special protections. If we're all "created equal" we should all be treated and protected equally.

January 18, 2007 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Behavioral minorities are not the same as racial minorities. That's ridiculous.

January 18, 2007 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin Luther King:

"I look forward to a day when my children as judged on the content of their character not the color of their skin."

Behavioral choices are part of what makes up character.

January 18, 2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Thanks for missing the point, Anon. Really, I didn't think you'd be able to follow this.

Why do you suppose a Christian minister would go to the trouble of meeting with the President of the United States to talk him into vetoing a bill that would offer extra protection to gay people?

I'm not asking whether hate-crime laws are justified, though I know that when your knee gets tapped it responds in a certain way.

Why is this, of all things -- trying to get lighter sentences for beating up and killing gay people -- what stirs Alan Chambers and Stephen Bennett to go to the top?

JimK

January 18, 2007 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Behavioral choices are part of what makes up character."

So tell us about your choice to be heterosexual.

January 18, 2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, do you think walking down the street being gay is a "behavioral choice?"

JimK

January 18, 2007 4:37 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, religion is a behavioral choice. People are protected on the basis of religion in existing hate crimes laws. Gays deserve the same protection.

January 18, 2007 5:21 PM  
Anonymous K.A. said...

Anonymous said:
"This continuing effort for special protection for gays is a national problem. It needs to be resisted."

*sigh*

Still there's all this "special protection" nonsense? The lack of logic is palpable.

Do a bit of research into the recent FBI hate crime statistics and you WILL find anti-heterosexual and anti-white hate crimes.

I guess minds like yours are simply incapable of incorporating the simple fact that majorities are also protected, despite the primary focus of such laws.

January 18, 2007 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee I wonder if I can have you all arrested for hate speech against Christians?

January 18, 2007 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what this law does is if a gay man try’s to force himself on me, and I defend myself, I will be arrested for a hate crime. I can see how you are all for it.

January 18, 2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, if you insist on being an idiot, I'm just going to delete everything you post. You know that's not what the bill says.

JimK

January 18, 2007 7:34 PM  
Blogger grantdale said...

Anon said: they want the same laws and sentences applied to injuring gays that apply to everyone else

Since hate crime laws already seem to cover just about every other broad category EXCEPT actual or perceived sexuality, I presume this would mean you are in favour of adding sexuality to the statutes?

But you're not, of course. So, in reality, you want those deliberately attacked on the basis of their sexuality to continue to be treated LESS than everyone else. Why not just be honest about that?

Apart from the hypocrisy of not wanting to remove all those other hate crime categories per se -- Chambers et al are attempting to confuse people about "hate crime laws" and the very different "anti-vilification laws".

Hate crime laws address only those acts that are crimes. It makes the distinction between a crime committed at random, and one that is committed because someone deliberately targets the victim as a member of a group. They add an extra penalty to reflect that degree of premeditation and the fear that hate crimes cause to the wider community.

There is a considerable difference between 1) getting into a stupid brawl and punching someone who also HAPPENS to be Jewish, and 2) deliberately setting out for the local synagoge with a few buddies and attacking the first person who leaves the service BECAUSE they must be Jewish. The first is upsetting for friends and family, but the second type of attack causes fear in everyone who is Jewish.

Some countries also have anti-vilification laws, most?/all? of which would arguably unconstitutional in the United States in any case. These are laws against making particular negative public statements etc about groups of people. You can still THINK what you like, but you just cannot go around expressing those views in public. They are designed to maintain the "public peace". (Whether they actually do achieve what they set out to do, or make matters worse etc, is arguable amoung reasonable people.)

You want a parallel? Well... consider the anti-profanity laws that are applied throughout the US. You can still THINK of any foul word under the sun, if you so wish, but you're not permitted to go around yelling them in public for the heck of it. I've never met a conservative yet who thinks all anti-profanity laws are an infringement on free speech... even though they are, obviously.

The nonsense about "behaviour vs racial minorities" is a red herring. As has been pointed out, hate crime laws already cover a clearly "behavioural" charateristic -- religion. Anyone ready to claim religion shouldn't be covered just because it's a "behaviour" and therefore not like race? No? No takers?

Apart from that, I'm trying to think of any hate crime case that occured because the victim was "doing something gay" at the time. There must be some cases, but none come to mind.

But let's not talk in the abstract... walking, alone, down the street to buy milk is not "gay behaviour". Even if you're doing it at 9.30pm in the middle of a dinner party. Yet this was apparently reason enough for a mate to be set upon by a carload of brave cultural warriors who were trawling the streets of Prahran looking for "a gay" -- any gay -- to beat up.

Luckily for our mate, he's a fast runner. Oh, and did I forgot to mention that he is also 100% straight?

January 18, 2007 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To relieve your worries, Grantdale, I think all hate crimes are unnecessary intrusions on freedom of speech and thought. Violence and vandalism are unlawful and will be prosecuted.

January 18, 2007 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said "you WILL find anti-heterosexual and anti-white hate crimes."

Are you saying racial majorities are like heterosexuals?

January 19, 2007 8:20 AM  
Blogger andrear said...

Anon,
Please tell me you aren't as ignorant as you seem. While there are foaming at the mouth morons writing and speaking in our media - because freedom of speech is protected, thank goodness- I have met a fairly prominent conservative writer who was not crazed when you met him. His writing seemed to be for the purpose of his position- his closet companion was an ACLU attorney. He was very intelligent and did not say moronic crazed things when you met him. I did meet Tony Snow once years ago at a party and he said something morally repugnant to me but probably outstanding to the conservative Republicans he supports. Obviously his public and private persona served him well for his career.

January 19, 2007 9:56 AM  
Anonymous K.A. said...

Anonymous said:
"Are you saying racial majorities are like heterosexuals?"

That's an ambiguous, but irrelevant question.

Those statistics partly demonstrate why there would be no "special protection" for homosexuals. The key would be the wording used, and regardless of your own opinions, "sexual orientation" includes heterosexuals. Do heterosexuals need the protection? Those statistics say yes.

January 20, 2007 12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My question is no more "ambiguous" or "irrelevant" than this one asked earlier in this thread:

Anonymous said...
Why? Are you saying racial minorities are like homosexuals?

January 18, 2007 1:58 PM


When legislation protects people who are victims of hate crimes because of their sexual orientation (or because of their race, religion, ethnicity, etc.) it protects heterosexuals and LGBTs (as well as people of all races, faiths, ethnic background, etc.) equally. There is no "special protection" for any one group, just equal protection for all.

Some might believe that LGBTs are getting "special protection" since they are more frequently the target of hate crimes based on sexual orientation than straight people, but the protection is equal for all victims of hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

January 20, 2007 7:53 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

I guess I see both sides of the issue on this...i.e. that certain groups, mostly by nature of their minority status (whatever category that might happen to be - keeping in mind that said individuals can fall into more than a single category), deserve extra protection because they are seen as more vulnerable.

Police officers and fire fighters are given extra protections, that is if you kill a police officer or fire fighter while they are doing their job, a harsher penalty is affixed upon a finding of guilt. Is this the same as extra protections given to set minority groups? I would say no because the later category is constituted by those discharging a professional obligation on behalf of the State (though I would be interested in knowing what the counter argument to that would be).

The downside to hate crimes statutes is that it would appear to create a political/legal environment where all victims of violent crimes are "created equal but some are more equal than others". If I am not mistaken, I think this is the libertarian position.

So, Jim asks the question,

The issue here is not really whether hate-crime laws do anything, the question is ... why are these guys going to go all the way to the President of the United States to try to get lighter sentences for people who kidnap, rape, beat, and kill gays?

Possible reasons? Ok, first off, they are fearful of the incrementalist nature of legislation...you know, a nibble here and a nibble there. First, one goes after actions, such as violent crimes directed at protected classes, and then for the sake of extending protections to these same groups, certain words are banned because of the impact they have on these same groups. The attempt to monitor speech on college campuses via speech codes comes to mind (and really now, if McCain-Feingold can pass the First Amendment test of the US Sup Ct then is such a possibility unthinkable?).

Second, it could be used as a legal tool to politically bludgeon those with dissenting viewpoints.

Really now, as someone who is religious, I would like to see ALL violent crimes equally prosecuted. After all, doesn't the Equal Protection Clause of the XIV Amendment state,

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.?

Since when did liberalism come to mean that we treat some equally, while still others are treated more equal than the rest of us?

January 20, 2007 9:20 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin, you are the one who introduced the term "liberalism." I don't know what certificate you get to become a "liberalist." It seems to me that common sense serves us all. Our society feels, in line with most civilized societies, that beating and killing someone because of the kind of person you perceive them to be is worse than beating/killing for some other reason. It's all part of counteracting the tyrrany of the majority, which is probably the reason people need a government in the first place.

JimK

January 20, 2007 1:59 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

Orin, you are the one who introduced the term "liberalism." I don't know what certificate you get to become a "liberalist."

I get my sense of liberalism from John Stuart Mill...

It seems to me that common sense serves us all.

The irony of the expression "common sense" is that it really is not all that common, unfortunately.

Our society feels, in line with most civilized societies, that beating and killing someone because of the kind of person you perceive them to be is worse than beating/killing for some other reason.

Now that is as principled an argument as I think may be possible. As I said, I understand this since I support heavier penalties for those who hurt police and fire personnel.

Still, there is the problem of resentment, and counteracting that resentment. I don't have a major problem with such protections, but I do have misgivings or reservations about how they may be used in the future.

It's all part of counteracting the tyrrany of the majority, which is probably the reason people need a government in the first place.

Actually the reason given by Madison in Federalist #51 and #10, and in Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America. Perhaps the passage you are looking for is one of the most famous of the 85 Federalist papers, in #51,

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

And FWIW...I don't think it is a good idea for any religious leader to advertise that they are meeting with a political leader over such a narrow issue. And I don't know that political leaders ought to meet with religious leaders over such a narrow issue. The Common Good is one thing; a narrow piece of legislation is another...

January 20, 2007 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Phentermine said...

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August 13, 2007 3:39 PM  

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