Five reasons to oppose hate crime bills
Briney, Ph.D, President Arkansas Republican Assembly
February 15, 2007
Arkansas state senator Henry Wilkins (D-Pine Bluff) is sponsor of a hate crime bill (SB 264). The title of the bill is, ‘AN ACT TO CREATE THE OFFENSE OF HATE CRIME; TO ESTABLISH PENALTIES FOR A HATE CRIME; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.’
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a hate crime is any crime committed because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation.
Forty-one states have "hate crimes" laws and twenty-two of these laws include sexual orientation. Most of the laws provide enhanced penalties for crimes committed with "hate."
No one likes hate, and discrimination is a terrible thing, so hate crime bills appeal to people as the right thing to do to curb a wrong. But hate crime bills are seriously flawed. Hate crime bills attempt to punish people for the way they think. They divide people into classes, and some are to be treated differently and deemed more worthy of protection.
Here are five reasons to oppose hate crime bills.
- Hate crime bills punish people for their opinions. Unless you are careful to express only love for all people regardless of your true feelings, you could be punished for your opinions. The fact is, all people have bias, even judges.
- ‘Hate crime’ laws “add penalties to a criminal sentence if the criminal is also convicted of having a ‘hateful’ intent toward the victim based on the victim's real or perceived group identity. Crime victims who don't fit into certain categories see their assailants face lesser penalties” (Robert Knight and Lindsey Douthit. 'Hate Crime' Laws Threaten Religious Freedom. 12/12/2005).
- The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin, so does that make all Christians, who believe the Bible, guilty of a hate crime? Does this mean that Bibles will be banned from society? Does this mean that the government will require censoring Biblical passages that condemn homosexuality? Likewise, homosexual literature is filled with hatred toward the Bible and Christians. Are they guilty of a hate crime? Will the government require their literature to be censored from society? If someone hears you express your dislike for politicians or policemen, are you guilty of a hate crime? Hate crimes punish people for their beliefs and opinions. This means that you are not entitled to express your opinion about others or about what others do. It could get you into trouble with the law. Hate crime bills jeopardize our First amendment protection of freedom of speech.
- A Canadian provincial court ruled referred to their hate crime law to conclude that passages of the Bible can be construed as hate literature. [Art Moore. February 18, 2003. Bible verses regarded as hate literature. WorldNetDaily.com]
- A Swedish pastor, Ake Green, was arrested June 2004 and sentenced to one month in prison for preaching against homosexuality (violation of hate crime law) in his pulpit at his church in Kalmar in 2003.
- "Those especially at risk are conservative religious people who may very well find themselves hauled into court unless they keep their mouths shut for being politically incorrect," Laurel Lynn Petolicchio, a constitutional activist, told The Washington Times. ['Hate Speech' Now Called 'Harassment by Communication'. Posted on: 2004-06-28.]
- Hate crime bills pose a serious threat to the U.S. First Amendment right of freedom of speech. “Infringement on free speech is the most dangerous aspect of hate crime legislation. Hate crime laws criminalize thoughts rather than actions. Civil government cannot successfully ban feelings, thoughts or beliefs – things like hate, jealousy or lust. But it can – and must – prosecute criminal acts which result from those evils. The civil government should not be permitted to regulate a person’s beliefs into approved and disapproved categories. When individuals are prosecuted under hate crime laws, the trial can become a wide-range inquiry into the defendant’s beliefs. In People v. Lampkin (1983, Supreme Court of Illinois), the prosecution presented evidence of racist statements the defendant had uttered six years before the crime was committed.”
- Hate crime bills create inequality by designating special groups of people who are more worthy of protection. The Constitution already guarantees justice and equal treatment for all. So then, a law that singles out and gives extra protection and special treatment to special groups of people for their religion, sexual orientation, age, race, disability, etc. is unjust. All people should be treated the same. The words, ‘Equal justice under law’ are engraved over the entrance to the Supreme Court and testify to what makes American laws just. It is not fair to apply a harsher sentence of punishment for hitting someone with a rock because of race than when hitting someone with a rock because of a dislike for her ugly face. Splitting someone’s head open with a rock deserves the same punishment regardless of the motive. Should tall people be given preference over short people? But why must one be short or tall to be given extra protection? Those whose heights are in between deserve as much protection as anyone else.
- "...hate-crime laws...do not unite us; they tear us apart into politically correct subgroups and advance an agenda hostile to the values of most Americans." ["How Hate-Crime Laws Harm Religious Freedom and Lead to Same-Sex 'Marriage'," Focus on the Family]
- Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL) argued that hate-crimes laws are not in accord with a society that aspires to “equal justice under law.” He told the House on September 14, 2005: ‘Federalizing hate crime law will not increase tolerance in our society or reduce intergroup conflict. I believe hate crime laws may well have the opposite effect. The men and women who will be administering the hate crime laws (e.g. police, prosecutors) will likely encounter a never-ending series of complaints with respect to their official decisions. When a U.S. Attorney declines to prosecute a certain offense as a hate crime, some will complain that he is favoring the groups to which the accused belongs (e.g. Hispanic males) And when a U.S. Attorney does prosecute an offense as a hate crime, some will complain that the decision was based upon politics and that the government is favoring the groups to which the victim belongs (e.g. Asian Americans).’”
[Stephen M. Lilienthal. October 14, 2005. Can Hate Crimes be Cured? Free Congress Foundation.]
- Hate crime bills are redundant. All victims should be vindicated, and all criminals should be punished. Should any be excluded from hate protection? The Christian? The atheist? The athlete? The white, male? The college student? The skinny model? All groups of people not listed in the hate crime bill are excluded from equal protection. Should not everyone be entitled to the same protection as anyone else? This being the case, every identifiable group of people should be included in the hate crime bill. But what is accomplished by doing so? All crimes are hate crimes. Do we need another law to tell us that all crimes against others should be punishable because they are wrong? Hate crime bills are redundant and unnecessary. Criminal acts are already illegal and should be applied equally to all criminals.
- Hate crime bills are ambiguous about what hate is. The Bible clearly indicates that homosexuality is sin. Is this hatred? Is it possible to hate the sin and love the sinner? Is it possible to warn someone you love that they are doing wrong? Such determination will be left up to judges and special interest groups who favor censoring the Bible. Those who hold religious or moral objections to homosexuality may be prosecuted for "hate."
- U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the two women did not have their First Amendment rights violated and were not discriminated against when their employers forced them to remove an announcement for a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day with respect for the natural family, marriage and family values. According to Rich Ackerman of Ackerman of Cowles & Lindsley legal firm, "The city of Oakland has interpreted this district court's ruling to mean that Christianity has no place in our society and should be subject to punishment.” [Rich Ackerman of Ackerman, Cowles & Lindsley legal firm, 'Natural family' called derogatory to 'gays', Arguments to be heard in Oakland's censorship of Christian workers, Posted: February 15, 2007, WorldNetDaily.com}
- A special session of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was held February 15, 2007, “… at the Stanford University Law School where lawyers are arguing whether the words 'natural family, marriage and family values' constitute 'hate speech' that could intimidate city of Oakland workers. ['Natural family' called derogatory to 'gays', Arguments to be heard in Oakland's censorship of Christian workers, Posted: February 15, 2007, WorldNetDaily.com]
- “Hate crime laws abuse civil rights. Currently, the homosexual lobby is the most ardent supporter of hate crime legislation. However, civil rights laws are normally based on immutable characteristics – that is characteristics which cannot be changed such as skin color, sex or disability. Religion is the exception; the First Amendment protects our beliefs.” Sexual orientation is not an immutable characteristic and should not be included in hate crime laws.
- “Demonstrating that any behavioral state is not only biological but genetic is well beyond our present research capacity.” [Jeffrey Satinover, M.D. 1999. Finding a Needle in the Ocean, National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality]
- A comprehensive review of 135 research studies reported in, “Human Sexual Orientation: The Biological Theories Reappraised,” written by William Byne and Bruce Parsons from Columbia University in 1993; concluded that there is no evidence at present to substantiate that biological factors are the primary basis for sexual orientation.
- Four months after publishing a report that a gay gene link was possible, the 1994 issue of Science published two articles questioning the supposed links to a gay gene. Genetics researchers from Yale, Columbia and Louisiana State Universities noted that much of the original report, “focused on social and political ramifications of genetic homosexuality rather than discussing scientific evidence.” [Ibid.]
Significant reading: Robert Knight and Lindsey Douthit. 'Hate Crime' Laws Threaten Religious Freedom. 12/12/2005.
Acknowledgement: Informative correspondence with Mike Mears, Director of State Legislative Relations, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.