By Harmony Grant
8 May 2007
Last Thanksgiving, a tenured math professor at an Arizona community college sent out an email that could cost him his job. No, it didn’t contain the n-word. It didn’t criticize homosexual practices or point out that Democrats in Congress are trying to turn America into a police state. It was simply George Washington’s “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789,” with a link to its location on Pat Buchanan’s website, forwarded to fellow teachers in honor of Thanksgiving. Within weeks, the professor’s free-thinking and patriotic colleagues complained of harassment.
Come again? The instructors of America’s future leaders can’t handle the historic words of our greatest founding father or a link to a public leader’s thoughts on immigration!?
Washington’s “offensive” address describes the “duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” This political giant prayed publicly “that we may then unite in most humble offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually…” and so on, in words that are no longer allowed at a high school graduation, on a navy shipdeck or, clearly, between full-grown faculty members at a community college!
For the crime of emailing Washington’s speech with a link to Buchanan’s site, Prof. Walter Kehowski was placed on forced administrative leave March 9; the school chancellor recommends the governing board fire him. The college accuses Kehowski of violating their non-discrimination policy which promises “an environment for each Maricopa job applicant and employee that is free from sexual harassment, as well as harassment and intimidation on account of an individual's race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disabled, or veteran status.”
Hey, that sounds a lot like the federal “anti-hate” bill!
As we’ve warned for months, the federal hate crime bill is another big step toward a nationwide speech ban on “hurtful words” against protected groups. It’s spearheaded and supported by the same people who support the speech codes that shackle free thought at universities across our nation and the workplace non-discrimination laws that do the same at American jobsites.
The appalling speech code at Texas A&M, America’s sixth largest state university, is another example of these manacles on the mind. A&M “literally prohibits hurting someone’s feelings.” It forbids students from violating each other’s rights to “respect for personal feelings” and “freedom from indignity of any type.” This vague, broad rule could be used to punish all kinds of unspecified behaviors including protected speech.
Criminal law should (and does) outlaw violent actions against the life and property of others. But nowhere does the Constitution guarantee unhurt feelings! My feelings are my own problem. Hate crime laws, however, invade the shadowy private space of feeling, bias, and belief. In 2004, Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute was used to arrest and indict 11 Christians for the potentially hurt feelings of homosexuals at a gay pride parade. The Christians’ only crime was to witness and sing hymns peacefully. They faced up to 47 years in prison.
These are Bad Laws, Period.
Many Christians and conservatives understand hate laws’ threat to the First Amendment; we’ve written extensively about this reality. But there are also non-speech-related reasons to protest hate crime laws. They are an enormous threat to one of the essential girders of a free society: clear, coherent and fair criminal law.
Timothy Lynch of the Cato Institute testified April 17 against hate crime legislation to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. He argued that not only should the federal hate law be voted down but that all hate crime legislation should be repealed. He argued persuasively that a federal hate crime law is unnecessary for the prosecution of already criminal acts of violence; violates states’ rights in law enforcement; will not deter real criminals any more effectively than current laws; relies on vague, over-broad, and subjective definitions; will heighten rather than reduce intergroup conflict; and will lead to prosecution of thoughts and beliefs rather than criminal acts.
Lynch’s well-stated arguments were informed by Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics, by James Jacobs and Kimberly Potter. Their academic title conceals a valuable extended argument against hate crime legislation. Like virtually all academic studies of these laws, Hate Crimes vastly understates both the creator role of the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish supremacist groups and the threat of hate crime legislation to the First Amendment. But this book valuably examines the way “identity politics” distort our political landscape and the way hate crime legislation enshrines the victim game into criminal law.
Earning Big Bucks at the Blame Game
Jacobs and Potter define identity politics as those “whereby individuals relate to one another as members of competing groups based upon characteristics like race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.” (Hate Crimes, p5) In this political atmosphere, people get power from being members of victimized groups; they lose by proclaiming success or accomplishment. You win by whining loudest and demonizing others most effectively.
Needless to say, this is a really rotten way to generate more just laws, lower taxes, purer culture or truer leadership. Hate crime legislation is based on this game, on the identity politics we should discourage, not enshrine in federal law.
Identity politics do not unite Americans; they fracture us into ever more polarized groups of blame-throwers. Rather than standing together as Americans against foreign or domestic threats to our freedom and culture, we instead disassociate into victimized racial and religious groups, as women against men, or homosexuals against straights.
Today, our nation is plagued by pundits and commentators who earn their keep by being professionally aggrieved. Their fat paychecks come from promoting and exaggerating the gripes of their victimized group. The worse that racism or anti-Semitism is claimed to be, the more money and power they receive. These false leaders benefit from generalizing from criminals’ mentality to the general population, saying that because some thugs spray-paint bad words there’s an epidemic of racism in the general population—or from misrepresenting politically incorrect but legitimate ideas as racism. Anything goes so long as it serves to inflate the debt owed by society to the victimized group.
Hate laws crystallize these social divisions into criminal law, classifying victims according to their political status. “The very collection and reporting of hate crime statistics encourages Americans to think of the crime problem in terms of intergroup conflict.” (p134) This view turns every high profile case into a political competition rather than an opportunity for the nation to unite against violent crime.
We’ll Pick Your Prejudices
Hate crime laws thus do not unite our nation into a less prejudiced society. Instead, they highlight and exacerbate political and social divisions. By their very nature, they also enforce specific prejudices. They proclaim some biases bad and criminal, while others are just fine. This involves the government in the creation of moral orthodoxy, deciding which biases to prosecute and which to allow. “Creating a hate crimes jurisprudence forces us to proclaim which prejudices are worse than others, itself an exercise in prejudice.” (p21)
The whole idea behind “anti-hate” legislation is that racial, anti-gay, or other forms of anti-group hatred are the very worst kind. But that’s not the government’s call. Why is racial prejudice or “homophobia” worse than other criminal motivations like greed, power, lust, spite, or pure sadism? The authors of Hate Crimes raise this question and it’s a great one. Why should you receive a triple penalty if you bludgeon a woman instead of a man? Why is it worse to rape a woman because you hate her skin color than to rape her because you love to hear a human voice scream in helpless pain?
Progressive leftists constantly accuse the religious right of wanting to legislate morality. Yet they embrace hate crime laws that do exactly that—these laws proclaim that certain kinds of criminal motivation or prejudice are morally worse and more socially destructive than others and should thus be prosecuted three times more harshly. Who gives them the right to say that?
Hate crime laws do not (and never could) prosecute all “prejudice” and all bias. Plenty of prejudices are in fact encouraged in our society and by big media and advocacy groups. We’re taught it’s important to be prejudiced against Nazis, for example (and also often against Christians, especially Catholics). Hate crime laws legislate that only some prejudices are evil.
But that’s precisely what the government is not allowed to do. Legislating beliefs violates the Constitution in multiple ways and lights a fuse of dynamite at the very foundation of our free society. Hate laws prosecute the beliefs behind crimes and enhance the penalties for these kinds of bias. This is essentially the same as punishing the criminal for his beliefs. (148)
The world has seen plenty of political systems that legislate the beliefs their citizens are permitted. We usually use some pretty unpleasant adjectives to describe those regimes. “Totalitarian” comes to mind.
My Stabbing Hurt Worse than Yours because I’m Black
Hate crime laws are really, really dangerous and messy to use because virtually any victim of a violent crime could arguably be the victim of some kind of hate or bias. Think about it. Policemen could be shot because of anti-cop bias. The adolescent thug might have robbed the Indian’s 7-Eleven because he hates Indians. Some really out-to-lunch feminists want to say all violence against women everywhere is a product of misogyny, which would make every man-on-woman crime a potential hate crime.
See where this leads? Hate crime laws have unlimited potential to fracture and confuse our justice system. They’re political tools used to make statements about the value of certain groups and how much the government dislikes certain beliefs. But political statements have no place in criminal law, which should remain as clear, coherent, fair, and coldly emotionless as it can be.
Hate crime laws are neither clear nor fair; they protect certain groups and classes of victims but not others. When do we stop adding victim categories? If everyone gets protected, hate crime is an empty category; it means the same thing as generic crime. But if not all victims are treated as victims of hate, then why some and not others? This privileging is wrought with political prejudice.
Hate Crime Laws Aren’t About Crime
When you think of a hate criminal, who comes to mind? Major media almost invariably shows a white neo-Nazi as the thug who needs hate laws to stop him from beating up blacks or homosexuals. But the reality is pretty different. Despite constant propaganda to the contrary, “hate crimes” are not a nationwide epidemic demanding massive federal intervention. Eighty percent of violent crimes involve victims and criminals of the same race. “For the 20 percent of violent crimes that are interracial, 15 percent involve black offenders and white victims…” (17) Only two percent are white-on-black.
Mainstream media and organizations like ADL focus searing attention on “white supremacist” groups who advocate limits on immigration or glorify western, Anglo-Saxon culture. This is because Jewish supremacists desire to silence the ideas that come from conservative, far-right, and Christian thinkers. These ideas subvert the drives for open immigration, unconditional support of Israel, and sexual amorality, among other things that are steadily corroding Christian America. Ultimately, hate crime laws won’t just be used to lock up skinhead thugs. They were invented by Jewish supremacists who will use them to prosecute Christian evangelism, opposition to social liberalism, and criticism of Israel.
Hate crime laws are advocated by politicians who see them as an easy way to win points with the homosexual and Jewish lobbies. Only this spring do we see the emergence of a vocal "freedom lobby" composed largely of concerned conservatives and Christians. It's been difficult for people to even comprehend the way these laws have already been used and will be used in the future—to jail innocent nonviolent citizens for exercising freedom of speech. We are used to the seeming freedom of American life, to easy traveling and outrageous (seemingly uncensored) media and basic daily liberty. It’s easy to forget that the remarkable freedom and prosperity of the American experiment is an aberration in the history of man. The overwhelming trend has been toward censorship, oppression, politically imposed famines, genocide, and lawlessness.
Any Way Back?
Jacobs and Potter suggest that hate crime reporting statutes should be repealed, and so should hate crime sentence enhancements. Is this possible? Could this ever happen? Yes and yes. It can happen if enough Americans are educated about the reality of hate crime laws, and somebody gives the other side of the argument.
There’s a Jewish lobby, a homosexual lobby, and lobbies on both sides of the abortion debate. Well, it’s time for our freedom lobby. It can grow as broad as the beautiful land stretching from Oregon to Maine. All Americans should rally against identity politics and the divisive, unfair, anti-freedom orthodoxies of hate crime legislation.
Let's quit allowing politicians to score easy points with uninformed members of victim groups, whose leaders harm them by emphasizing past grievances at the expense of future success. Don’t let your government legislate your opinions, words and beliefs. Protest hate crime laws to your Senator today and let President Bush know he must keep his promise to veto the federal hate bill and also not sign a compromise bill. Whatever happens to H.R. 1592, we must keep resisting and educating against hate crime laws. It’s time to take back America’s criminal law.
Call the White House, and say, "Thank you, Mr. President, for promising to veto the hate bill. We expect you also to not approve a modified hate bill."
Protest the Senate hate bill! Call your senator toll-free at 1-877-851-6437 or toll 202-225-3121. Leave this message: "Please don't vote for hate crimes bill S.1105. Hate laws have taken away free speech in Canada and much of Europe. If you do vote for the hate bill, I and my friends will never vote for you again." Send your senator and his 8-10 influential aides Rev. Ted Pike's powerful flyer "Anti-Hate Laws Will Make You a Criminal." This flyer and names of aides are available here.
Come to www.truthtellers.org for the list of the crucial 14 Republicans who have voted for the hate bill as well as 17 Republicans who are uncommitted. Call and protest immediately.
Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians: http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/intro.asp.
Learn how ADL took away free speech in Canada and wants to do it right now in the U.S. Congress. Watch Rev. Ted Pike's Hate Laws: Making Criminals of Christians at video.google.com. Purchase this gripping documentary to show at church. Order online at www.truthtellers.org for $24.90, DVD or VHS, by calling 503-853-3688, or at the address below.
TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Harmony Grant on current threats to our freedom of speech and religion. Call (503) 631-3808.
NATIONAL PRAYER NETWORK,
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