Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Special Interests Use Tragedy To Prime Pump For Hate Law
The slaying of an openly gay student in Laramie, Wyoming, has been seized upon by those pushing for a national hate crimes law which would punish thought -- Orwellian style.
The young man, Matthew Shepard was tied to a post and pistol whipped into a coma, from which he slipped into death a few days later. Despite pleas from his father that Matthew's case not be used as a national rallying point by opportunists seeking to further "gay rights" and hate crime laws, members of such groups as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Lambda Center and others are doing just that.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), has also been very vocal in pushing forward a draft of a bill that would bring the federal government jurisdiction in violent crimes that are "hate motivated."
Critics of the proposed law, of which there are many, argue that laws are already I place in every state of the union to punish violent crimes. The hate crimes law, would, however, punish the thought of the perpetrators, a blatant contradiction of the Constitution's First Amendment. It would also be very hard to prove in court.
The slaying also produced a backlash of sorts. Anti-homosexual groups protested the "lifestyle" Matthew led by showing up at the funeral as protesters, and sparked hateful e-mails to many organized homosexual groups.
The irony was that robbery was the main objective in the assault which led to Shepard's death.
His slaying also points out the wide gap remaining in the mainstream media and public elite versus grassroots Americans regarding homosexuality and its organized efforts to achieve recognition as a protected minority. While the former groups are in the forefront of pushing for, not just equal protection, but favored status as a persecuted minority, for homosexuals. Most Americans are content to either forgive the sinner or live with the fact of homosexuality without actively seeking to punish them or discriminate against them. But they refuse to given into demands that would give homosexuals special job preferences and other rights that average citizens don't enjoy.
The proposed national hate crimes law would also use the gender and racial status of the individual attacked. That is, any woman attacked because of her gender, or a general hatred of women by the perpetrator, would also be prosecuted by the feds. Of course this would be impossible to prove, as would the motivation behind an anti-homosexual attack. On the other hand it would be just as nearly impossible to defend against.
But the worst example of hypocrisy is the race component. Blacks commit crimes against whites at twice the rate of white on black crime, despite the disparity in populations. But blacks would not be held accountable under the proposed law, because they are considered a persecuted minority, and their crimes a persecuted minority, and their crimes stem from years of alleged abuse by whites.
The debate over hate crimes legislation is also likely to polarize the country. According to Valerie Jenness, professor of sociology at University of California at Irvine: "The reactions in these kinds of triggering effects are predictable but invisible. No one will say, 'I hate these people,' but it serves to confirm homophobic sentiments."
The lead investigator in the Shepard case, Sgt. Rob Debree, was pressured by reporters on whether he had information confirming the murder was a hate crime. He replied: "I wish somebody could give us a true definition of what they consider to be a hate crime. We don't have anything as law enforcement officers that we can actually dictate and go by as a statute."
With that statement, the sergeant sums up the entire problem. How does one determine the motivation, the thought, behind the crime? There are degrees of murder (premeditated, crime of passion) etc., but these are fairly easy to prove. The clear answer is to punish the illegal deed, against which all states have laws, rather than have the federal government come in Orwellian fashion and determine whether the criminal was right-thinking or wrong-thinking.