Thursday, May 3

The Next Veto Threat - Bush *Hearts* Hate Crimes

Fast on the heels on his second all-time Veto, President Bush has already began the rumblings for his third. This time though the issue isn't Stem Cells, or the continuation of the Iraq Escalation - this time he's threatening to Veto legislation that would help prevent hate crimes.

Because, y'know Hate Crimes are something we certainly need more of...

Now exactly why would the President and Conservatives have a hard time with this bill? Could it be that they think they have a right to be bigots? From USA Today

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House issued a veto threat Thursday against legislation that would expand federal hate crime law to include attacks motivated by the victims' gender or sexual orientation.

The hate crimes bill, with strong Democratic backing, is expected to pass the House Thursday. Similar legislation is moving through the Senate.

But the legislation, which also would increase the penalties for bias-based violence, has met outspoken resistance from conservative groups and their Republican allies in Congress, who warn that it undermines freedom of speech, religious expression and equal protection under the law.

"Equal protection?" - hm, seems some people are a bit more equal than others in the Conservative mind.

The White House, in a statement, said state and local criminal laws already provide penalties for the crimes defined by the bill and "there has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement."

Although the vast majority of Hate Crimes reported in 2005 were cases of Racial Bias (4,691 offenses), the level of Sexual-Orientation Bias is still quite significant with 1,171 offenses. That is only slightly less that the incidents of Religions Bias (1,314) and more than bias based on National Origin (1,144) - not counting of course the recent Police Riot against immigrants on May Day in Los Angeles.

One point that should be emphasized is that this legislation also protects people assaulted for their gender - even if they happen to be straight - which is a statistic which isn't recorded by the FBI Hate Crime stats. In other words, it would protect women and as we've seen in the wake of the I-Mess the attitudes that continue to be projected onto women are no small contributor to violence perpetrated against them.

Somehow I'm not exactly surprised that conservatives who have evicerated Civil Rights Enforcement, attempted to change the constitution to ban same-sex marriage and gave us the so-called partial birth-abortion ban which won't save a single child, but will put far more women at greater risk or serious injury and possible death, especially those who are only 17-years-old and younger - really don't give a rat-ass about protecting women from Hate Crimes either.

I mean, let's not make a Federal Case out of this stuff...

It also questioned the constitutionality of federalizing the acts of violence barred by the bill and said that if it reaches the president's desk "his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill."

That's right - y,see - people like Ann Coulter have a Constitutional Right to call John Edward's a "Faggot" in reference to Isiah Washington's onset rant, or to say Al Gore is "Totally Gay". Rush Limbaugh is constitutionally protected when he wonders who would design Edward's "Inaugural Gown."

But if some violent religious nutbag like say - Eric Robert Rudulf - should take things up a notch from a few fighting words and - I don't know - decide to plant their own IED near a Women's Clinic or a Gay Bar - we wouldn't want to bother the FBI with it would we?

Even so, the legislation in question doesn't address hate speech - vile as much of it may be - it addresses hateful actions, not that James Dobson or John Boehner seems to know the difference.

Radical right-wing groups have lobbied aggressively against this bill. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called it “insidious legislation” that would “silence and punish Christians for their moral beliefs.” (Listen to Dobson HERE.) The Concerned Women for America said the bill is meant to “grant official government recognition to both homosexual and cross-dressing behaviors, and to silence opposition to those behaviors.”

Today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated this far-right talking point. He claimed that under the hate crimes bill, you would be charged with a crime if you were “thinking something bad” before you committed a crime against someone. “I just think it takes us down a path that is very scary.”

This news was posted while I was halfway through this diary, and it brings up something I had considered including by was going to let is slide. Well, not anymore.

The idea that "Hate Crimes" constitute "Thought Crimes" is frankly a total load of BullCrap. Everyday in courts all around the country the question of intent and Premeditation are regularly introduced. What you were thinking when you kill someone is the difference between manslaughter, 2nd and 1st degree murder.

BOHN-er is simply full of it. And in point of fact the focus of the legislation is very limited:

This legislation goes after criminal action, like physical assaults, not name-calling or verbal abuse. The bill clearly states that “evidence of expression or associations of the defendant may not be introduced as substantive evidence at trial, unless the evidence specifically relates to that offense.”

The hate crimes legislation is by endorsed by 31 state attorneys general and leading law enforcement agencies. Under current law, federal officials are able to investigate and prosecute “attacks based on race, color, national origin and religion and because the victim was attempting to exercise a federally protected right,” but unable to intervene “in cases where women, gay, transgender or disabled Americans are victims of bias-motivated crimes for who they are.”

All it's doing is allowing already protected federal rights, such as voting, from being abridged for women, gays and the disabled in the same way that it is already (allegedly) protected for racial and ethnic minorities.

For the record, I'm not gay - but I don't see any reasonable problem with that, although I do think I have an idea why some of these guys really can't stand the idea.

Here's some more details from the Hate Crime Stats.

Sexual-Orientation Bias
In 2005, law enforcement agencies reported 1,171 hate crime offenses based on sexual- orientation bias.

* 60.9 percent were anti-male homosexual.
* 19.5 percent were anti-homosexual.
* 15.4 percent were anti-female homosexual.
* 2.3 percent were anti-bisexual.
* 2.0 percent were anti-heterosexua

I've long argued that crimes committed against male-homosexuals are actually crimes against women-by-proxy. In the mind of a rough, tough Malboro kind of man - he's is to adored by women - and women only. The idea of some other guy being attracted to him, and possibly thinking about him in the same way he would treat a women - is repugnant. Those guys don't want someone else treating them the way they treat their girlfriends - FUCK THAT NOISE!

So naturally anyone who even sniffs at this "Man's Man" the wrong way is going to get, and deserves a beat down, right?

IMO there's a common thread among the "Macho Men", particular those who join the military (although thankfully far from all of them) linking the mindset that took us from Tailhook to Abu Ghriab.

It's not an accident that General Pace thinks homosexuality is immoral - despite the latest Scientific information which tends to indicate that being gay is biological and not neccesarily psychological, which means that discrimination against them is exactly a vile as that initiated on the basis of race or other biological factors.

The only "immoral" persons in this situation are the President and his Conservative enablers who continue to seek to deny all of us, gay and/or straight, the equal protection of the law as was promised 139 years ago, yet still has not been realized, by the 14th Amendment.

There are details on how to Contact Your Representatives and let them know how you feel in This Call To Action Diary.



Anonymous said...


Clearly, the opponents of the bill are jackasses and blowhards, bigots and fools, etc., etc., but some of their points are valid! When someone commits a violent hate crime, they are already going to be punished. If whoever plants an IED by an abortion clinic, they're already going to jail for murder! It's not like hate crime is _protected_ at the moment! Clearly, it is a very significant problem in today's society, but it's already criminalized. When someone asks "where does the list [of protected groups] end" they ask a good question. It really is setting up certain groups as more deserving of protection under the law. That's not equal protection. If this bill is NOT vetoed, THEN some people are "more equal" than others! Mothers, the military, hell... circus performers... it doesn't matter. If they're not on the list, and someone hates them, and assaults them, they have one charge against them. If a gay (or straight) person is assaulted because of their orientation, now the offender would have TWO charges against them? That's not equal protection? What the hell is wrong with you?!! P.S. I'M GAY!!!

Vyan said...

Let me just say that the fact is that it's not just violence, most Hate Crimes are acts of intimidation. As one responder to this thread on Dkos pointed out - a Cross Burning on your lawn isn't just an act of arson - it's an act of terror. A swastika on your wall isn't just vandalism - it's a threat. The assault of a gay person, simply for daring to be gay, isn't just a issue of violence - it's an attack on everyone's freedom to be who they are or else risk sufferring the consequences.

It's not just one crime - IT's TWO CRIMES.

Second of all...

If you simply read the Federal Murder Statues under USC Title 18 Sec 1111 - the state of the "perpetrator's mind" is always at play. It makes a difference if the act was premeditated, if they were "lying in wait", if they were also in the midst of a "burglary, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse". It makes a difference if the victim is a child. It makes a difference if the victim was a foreign national or law enforcement officer or if the perpetrator is in federal custody.

We even have a law on the books called - get this - Conspiracy to Commit Murder, which is simply that act of thinking and talking about an act that is intended for someone, somewhere to eventually commit. It doesn't even have to actually occur.

If may be a cute academic arguement to say that either we don't or we shouldn't pay attention to what someone is thinking and intending when they commit a violent act - but since clearly WE DO, it has no basis in reality.

Laws such as this don't grant more protection to blacks than whites, or women than men, or to gays rather than straights - it protects them both from each other.