Worldnetdaily Lies About Hate Crimes Law

Five years after the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Christian right is still lying about it and claiming that it will lead to pastors being frogmarched out of church pulpits for daring to criticize homosexuality. The Worldnutdaily packs this article with such lies:

Barack Obama, when he was new in the Oval Office, signed a “hate crimes” law that created a two-tier system of punishment, increasing the punishment for a Christian pastor who attacked a homosexual but not for a homosexual who attacked a Christian pastor.

The reasoning was simple. The homosexual is in a protected class of U.S. citizens, but the Christian pastor is not.

Nope. Not even close. In fact, Christians have enjoyed anti-discrimination protection on the basis of religion for half a century now, while discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is still entirely legal at the federal level. And guess what? The hate crimes law also applies to any violent crime that is committed “because of the actual or perceived religion” of the victim. A homosexual who attacked a Christian pastor because of his religion would also be subject to additional punishment under that law (of course, homosexuals rarely attack Christians while Christians routinely attack homosexuals).

The law cracks down on any acts that could be linked to criticism of homosexuality or even the “perception” of homosexuality. Obama boasted of his accomplishment.

“After more than a decade, we’ve passed inclusive hate-crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are,” he said.

Yeah, you notice that “how they pray” part? That’s the religion part. Sexual orientation is just one of a long list of reasons that could trigger the hate crimes law:

It also creates a new federal criminal law which criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury (or attempting to do so with fire, firearm, or other dangerous weapon) when:

(1) the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin of any person or (2) the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person and the crime affected interstate or foreign commerce or occurred within federal special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.

Funny how the Christian right pretends that the whole law is just about protecting gay people, even when the quote they offer from Obama says the opposite. Obsess much?

But the criticism was vocal and pointed. American Family Association President Tim Wildmon warned the new law “creates a kind of caste system in law enforcement, where the perverse thing is that people who engage in nonnormative sexual behavior will have more legal protection than heterosexuals. This kind of inequality before the law is simply un-American.”

He pointed out that the legislation also creates possible situations in which pastors could be arrested if their sermons on sexuality can be linked in even the remotest way to acts of violence. For example, if someone hears the biblical description of homosexuality as a sin and uses that message as a reason for acting.

Isn’t it interesting how these imagined dystopic results never actually happen? We’re five years into the law being into effect and not a single pastor has been arrested (and no, the law does not apply to anyone other than the person who actually committed the crime). It’s kinda like all those predictions that gay marriage would destroy marriage and America and civilization itself. Why is it taking so long? Could it be that you’re just completely full of shit?

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  • John Pieret

    I made the mistake of reading the comments at WND and found this:

    It’s a satanic design to put the evil and inferior people over the good and superior people, but that is what America promotes: special rights and privileges for a select group. What happened to equality under the law? Unconstitutional! UnAmerican!

    My irony meter immediately did a China Syndrome, taking out my washing machine in the process.

  • matty1

    OK foreigner here, it can’t be the case that “willfully causing bodily injury (or attempting to do so with fire, firearm, or other dangerous weapon)” used to be legal and is now illegal only in the specified circumstances.

    Is it that this is normally covered by state law so it’s the federal part which is new?

  • Trebuchet

    @2: No, it didn’t used to be legal. The law adds extra penalties in the case of hate crimes over the “ordinary” ones.

    It applies to minor crimes as well, I think. Burning a cross on a black family’s lawn might be only a minor misdemeanor under ordinary law but become a felony as a hate crime. (Citation Needed)

  • Michael Heath

    I’ve yet to encounter one argument against hate crimes laws that:

    a) describe these laws correctly,

    b) engage the motivation on why these hate crime bills are needed and,

    c) the reasons certain actions need to be triggered with a hate crime relative to a crimes that don’t meet the definition of a hate crime.

    The biggest flaw is a typical libertarian weakness, where they seek to protect the privilege or rights of their favored classes while denying the reality that others’ rights are also in play. The second flaw is the denial that hate crimes victimize more than just direct targets.

    For example, when some churches of a certain denomination were being burned in the deep south several years ago, the victims weren’t merely the members of the torched churches, but also all other associated church members in that area – their members were also effectively terrorized.

  • eric

    @3 – yes, to build on what trebuchet said, the “new” thing here is that it gives higher penalties for pre-existing crimes when you do them out of a specific motive. Assault etc. were already illegal, what has changed is that if you assault someone because of their race, religion, orientation, etc. you can now get a higher penalty than if you just assaulted them because they insulted your mother or whatever.

  • John Pieret

    matty 1:

    Is it that this is normally covered by state law so it’s the federal part which is new?

    Actually, the main effect of the law is that it allows the FBI to become involved in such a case, helping local law enforcement, without waiting 24 hours (a legal fiction where the FBI can assume after that time that the perpetrators have fled across state borders).

  • freehand

    Another advantage of getting the federal cops involved is that in some jurisdictions the local law enforcement might be more inclined to enforce local cultural values than legal ones. More than once the feds have prosecuted and convicted a murderer or assailant who had been found not guilty or even not charged by the locals, despite overwhelming evidence.

  • jonathangray

    Isn’t it interesting how these imagined dystopic results never actually happen? We’re five years into the law being into effect and not a single pastor has been arrested … It’s kinda like all those predictions that gay marriage would destroy marriage and America and civilization itself. Why is it taking so long? Could it be that you’re just completely full of shit?

    How can progressivism be taken seriously when progressives think five years is a long time?

    (Mind you, have you seen America lately?)

  • dingojack

    Ah yes Jon-Jon it’s all the fault of those ‘progressives‘ that the RRWNJ preached that the second the law was passed MIB’s would come paragliding out of the black helicopters (after laying down chemtrails of NaF, naturally) and whisk Christians out of their very own churches and off to secret FEMA camps hidden in the woods somewhere (guarded by hordes of Muslims or millions of Chinese/Russian/Mexican/Cuban soldiers massing unseen, like super-ninjas). @@

    Run along and play with your toys now, the adults are trying to have a grown-up conversation.

    Dingo.

  • jonathangray

    It’ll never happen and when it does you Christians will so deserve it.