Hate Crimes Demonstration: The “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” Edition

So last month fundamentalists were lying that extending hate crime protections (which already protect religious people to no complaint from anyone, including those so afraid of “thought police”) to gays would result in arrests for anti-gay remarks in sermons.  Dan Savage had an ingenious idea for showing the lie that this claim was.  The idea was to have liberal preachers stage an event where they gave hate sermons denouncing groups already protected by hate crimes legislation to demonstrate that they could do so without getting arrested, with the point being that were such legislation extended to gays, anti-gay sermons similarly wouldn’t lead to arrest.  Here’s Savage’s post:

This lie—this little bit of false witness—can be easily debunked. Federal hate crimes statutes already cover race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity and sex. A group of liberal pastors should announce that they’re going to mount the pulpit in a particular church at particular time and preach a series of vile, hateful sermons—one right after the other—attacking people of various races and ethnicities, attacking men and women in turn, attacking people for being white, yellow, and brown, and attacking people of other faiths. The semons should rely on biblical passages that have been historically used to justify attacks on and discrimination against people of different faiths, races, ethnicities, genders, etc., though the ages. Alert the authorities and challenge them to come and arrest all these pastors for preaching hate against groups who are already covered by federal hate crime laws.

They won’t be arrested, of course, because it’s not a crime to be a vile, hateful religious bigot now and it won’t be a crime after sexual orientation is added to the federal hate crimes law.

But now that the legislation has passed, the homophobes want to stage a protest where they explicitly attack gays (unironically) and dare the authorities to arrest them with those non-existent new powers to do so:

On November 16, a pack of crazy Christian clerics will be congregating in Washington to publicly defame gay people. The object of the exercise is to challenge the new anti-hatred Matthew Shepard Act, a Congressional Act which protects citizens against hate crimes committed because of a victim’s perceived sexuality.

At the rally, outside the Department of Justice, ministers will preach from the Bible against homosexuality, and will then present a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that the religious liberty of all Americans be respected.

Specific legal challenges to the restrictions of the “hate crimes” plan also may be announced then, Cass said.

According to this Examiner report, the pastors don’t have a problem with hate crime legislation itself, but specifically with this hate crime legislation, which limits their god-given rights to incite violence against gay people.


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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.