Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good luck Mister Sheppard.

Most of the beneficial legislation in this world that fails to make it into law does so because of the good intentions of misinformed people. If the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crime bill fails to pass that will definitely be the reason. There's nothing quite like listening to conservative ministers, church goers, and politicians ramble on about the dangers of a bill that basically says that while its already wrong to shoot a man to steal his money, its worse to shoot a man because he slept with another guy last night.

Most of the misinformation about hate crime legislation is centered around the idea that it legitimizes homosexual behavior. Simply, if the government says its worse to shoot a guy because he's gay ,then the government is saying it is good that he is gay. The problem with this argument is that the bill covers any type of hate crime. It would be just as applicable if a rowdy crew of gay men killed me because I'm heterosexual. Conservatives who say that the bill is really only about homosexuality are actually the reason that the bill is seen as only about homosexuality. Secondly nobody every talks about the fact that there is already a Hate Crime bill on the books from 1969. This bill simple expands the definition and reach of government in protecting its citizenry.


Here’s a few of the problem areas…
Hate crime legislation is aimed at silencing people, especially ministers, who think that homosexuality is wrong. The problem with this statement is that the same bill specifically maintains free speech and if it didn't the bill would fail Constitutionally anyway. The idea that the legislation is attempting to control speech is a straw man argument. Conservatives can’t beat the bill on its merits, so they’ll just make all there congregations scared of it.

In my local paper one minister reported as saying "he has a problem with hate crimes in general, because one crime should not weigh more than another." Even if the speaker was to modify this obviously ridiculous statement, lest we all get the death penalty for our unpaid parking tickets... the statement is still false. American law and Old Testament law define the killing of another human in types and levels including manslaughter and murder. We all recognize levels for murder depending on the situation.

Pastors who speak against homosexuality could not be convicted if someone heard them and then committed a violent act. There is a massive difference between inciting violence and saying that an action is wrong. Americans have consistently allowed for racists, communist, flag burners, and all matter of fringe groups to speak there mind as long as their actions do not lead to violence even if Americans as a whole seem to disagree with their beliefs. There’s no reason to believe America, or more specifically the Justice system, would react any differently to a group that believes like roughly half of the country claims to believe.


All murder is a hate crime and there's already a law against that. This statement is untrue for two reasons. First of all most murder doesn’t have anything to do with hate. Most murder is about greed, envy, or simply the fear of being caught for other wrongdoings. Its more likely that a murderer will claim to have loved his victim than it is that he hated him.

Hate Crime Legislation is not Socialist. ( I know this seems basic, but not according the Catholic priest in Pastoral Urbania.)

Homosexuality is not a civil right, its a moral choice. This is probably my favorite fallacious statement about Hate Crime legislation. The basic premise of civil rights is that a person should be able to live unfettered in their personal beliefs and actions, so long as he doesn’t cause harm or undue problems on the society as whole. Therefore if someone kidnaps and murders me because of something I believe or do that is not illegal my civil rights are unavoidably being violated. The fact that sexual orientation is not explicitly protected is irrelevant.


But all of this is not what bothers me most about Conservatives and their campaign against anything that might make homosexuals feel less like second class citizenry. My God is a god of amazing grace and love. He has accepted me in all of my faults and failings, persistent as they are. He has made it my job to speak to the world on his behalf. Even if I thought that homosexuality was wrong, I would never turn to fellow human being and say that if someone kills you because you love another man I think that’s ok. Which is exactly what we tell them when bring these ludicrous arguments to the public forum.


And for the conservative’s that are still with me. Let me ask you this. Even if we assume you are correct. Even if we assume homosexuality is a choice. Even if we assume that homosexuals need to be saved from unrighteousness in their lives. How can you share the love of Christ with the homosexual, when the red neck asshole at local bar just killed him?


Faithful said...

I think I'd have to agree with you that the addition of "GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, OR DISABILITY" to the list of "Hate Crimes" is legitimate and therefore should be passed...
Though I would rather see Paragraph 2 removed and tell them to raise their own funds...

-Your Friendly American Classical Liberal-

Anonymous said...

Where in the United States is it legal for rednecks to murder homosexuals?

Jeremiah said...

I find it funnthro hear a preist speak about laws being the same when his own faith categorizes sins into levels of severity.

Pastoral Urbanite said...

No where obviously, but the legality isn't the point. Its not legal to sell alcohol to minors, or use illegal drugs, etc... but that doesn't stop it from happening. This legislation seeks condemn the action by increasing the level of punishment to an appropriate level considering the magnitude of the crime. The statement of passing the law is just as important as its actual use in prosecution.

Rusty said...

Very nice job, Michael! I couldn't agree more.

I am continually astounded by the ability of people to care a whole lot more about what others are doing than examining their own lives.

In my opinion, until we are all equal under the law, then things like Protected Classes and Hate Crimes legislation are absolutely required.

I would also encourage you guys to lobby your Senators to get this thing moved off high-center:

Coburn: 202-224-5754
Inhofe: 202-224-4721

It's wayyyy overdue.