A hate crimes bill has passed through the US House (H.R. 1913) and is now before the Senate (S. 909).Â Basically, a hate crimes bill makes not only actions done against others criminal, but also the motives behind the actions.
The bill in question would make it an extra crime to commit crimes against people due to a hatred of their sexual orientation (includes homosexuality, pedophilia, being normally married, etc.), or a number of other things (such as race and religion).Â I would like to suggest two basic problems with hate crimes legislation:
1. The hate crimes bill/concept breaks one of the fundamental principles of our country, equal intrinsic human value:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Why isn’t a crime motivated by hate as wrong when the hate is against a veteran as when it is against a homosexual?Â S. 909 bases the punishment for crime on the type of hate believed to be in the heart of the criminal, rather than on the value of a victim as a human being.
As far as the government is concerned, the sin of hate should be judged by what it results in.Â If it results in murder, then it is egregious hate, no matter the particular variety.Â If someone (homosexual or not) is murdered, the justice served should give other people pause before murdering anyone out of any kind of hate.
Are we going to make it a crime to hate someone?Â If hating someone isn’t a crime, then this bill prevents people from getting equal protection under the law as the 14th Amendment requires (because different criminality would be assigned for the same actual crime).Â If it is a crime to hate someone, then we are really in trouble because freedom of speech will logically be threatened by thought police.Â That leads to the second problem.
2.Â The hate crimes bill/concept logically changes the definition of inciting a crime.
If John Doe tells you to go kill someone, John has incited a crime.Â Pretty simple.
But once we make it more of a crime to hate someone in a certain way when killing them, inciting a crime becomes much easier.Â If John tells a lawyer joke and someone goes out and kills a lawyer after hearing John’s joke (and lawyers were protected under hate crimes law), then perhaps John inspired the criminal to hate.Â Perhaps John incited him/her to commit a crime.
The solution?Â Outlaw lawyer jokes, and criminalize those who tell them.Â After all, it is an extra bad crime if you kill a lawyer out of hate of lawyers (versus a hate of Ford drivers, which are a type of people not worth that kind of protection, apparently).
Under Title 18 in the federal code, if you are shown to aid, abet, to counsel or to in some way influence one of those ‘incidents,’ you are as guilty as the principal.
Thus if a pastor preaches that homosexuality is a sin and a congregant murders a homosexual, even if the pastor would also say it is a sin to murder a homosexual, that pastor could be charged with inciting a crime.Â If you don’t think hate crimes impact freedom of speech, consider that Focus on the Family edits their broadcasts before airing in Canada to avoid getting in trouble with the government up there.
A few closing thoughts:
Unfortunately, this hate crimes debate is relevant to the coming Republican Senate primary.Â Candidate and former Weld County DA Ken Buck is in favor of (and has used) hate crimes legislation.Â He defended his position in a recent Denver Post article (H/T Ikonoclast of PPC).Â This should be a consideration as we in the Republican Party choose our candidate in 2010.
And finally, if you think I’m biased concerning the federal bill, consider what Andrew Sullivan (homosexual pundit) wrote last week:
The real reason for the invention of hate crimes was a hard-left critique of conventional liberal justice and the emergence of special interest groups which need boutique legislation to raise funds for their large staffs and luxurious buildings… It’s very, very powerful as a money-making tool – which may explain why the largely symbolic federal bill still hasn’t passed… a symbolic law that will prevent no crimes.
Now if he thinks the bill won’t make a difference and I think it will make a bad difference, then why should Congress pass it?Â Please urge your Colorado Senators to vote No.