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States Skirmish Over `Anti-Hate' Laws

By Harmony Grant
27 Feb 2008

Next month former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and Foundation for Moral Law attorneys will continue to challenge Pennsylvania’s state hate law. In 2004, eleven Christians were shocked to find themselves in jail as hate criminals. They were arrested for peacefully protesting a gay pride parade. Christians across America were justly horrified. Bill O’Reilly and others featured the story of persecution in “the land of the free.” The Pennsylvania Commonwealth dismissed criminal charges against the Christians. The proactive Christians then sued the governor and legislative leaders, arguing that the hate laws were not passed in a Constitutional way in 2002. They won.
Today the Commonwealth is appealing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, trying to keep special legal protection for privileged groups, including homosexuals. For decades, states and nations have been complicating their legal systems with such “anti-hate” statutes. These laws stiffen punishment for crimes motivated by “bias” or “hate.” They lead to speech restrictions and end up criminalizing legitimate criticism, especially from Christians and conservatives. For example, in Canada and now in the California public school system, it becomes illegal to express our “fundamentalist” bias against anal, same-sex intercourse or to negatively point out that homosexuals have higher AIDS rates. (See, How the Bible Became 'Hate Speech' in California) Bias crime laws are used to silence all criticism—legitimate, thoughtful, or venomous, it doesn’t matter—of protected social groups.
Christians don't have such protection. While the Philadelphia Commonwealth is trying to save homosexuals’ special privileges, another group of Pennsylvanians—Catholics—aren’t feeling the love. A Catholic church was recently vandalized. Thugs defaced a statue of Mary and the church’s front doors with words, “God is dead” and “[Obscenity] Jesus.” They planted a fake pipe bomb so convincing a bomb squad was called in.
But if they’re caught, they won’t be prosecuted for a hate crime—just “institutional vandalism.” Philly columnist J. D. Mullane wrote about this crime, which he notes was hardly motivated by love. But that’s the unequal treatment that results from hate crime laws. We argue that no one should benefit from the increased punishments and complex investigations of hate crime laws. No crime should carry a heavier sentence based on why it’s committed. But it’s worth pointing out that as various groups are added to hate crime statutes, conservative Christians are not among them.
While advocates battle in Pennsylvania, the fight over hate laws also continues in Georgia. Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law. This means it is one of five remaining states with a simple, equal-to-all legal system that punishes a murder or beating as a murder or beating, no more or less. Georgia’s state laws promise to punish your assailant whether you wear a drag queen’s stilettos or a pastor’s oxfords. Their wise Majority Whip recently advocated a bill calling hate laws repugnant, as a dike against militant homosexual advocates who want a hate law. His bill said that “encouraging police to treat victims differently depending on whether they fit into a special status created by statute causes victims of similar crimes to be treated disparately, a concept repugnant to the Georgia and United States constitutions.” He’s so right. But his bill was defeated. Things are in a kind of stalemate. Last year, a Georgian bill to define hate crimes never made it to the Senate floor. But that bill was reintroduced and stands a chance of passage this year.
Meanwhile, hate crime laws are also debated in other states. In Massachusetts, pending legislation will add transgender people to hate crimes protected status. Maryland lawmakers seek to include the homeless under hate crime statutes. A local news source explains, “Under the bill, someone who commits crimes --including defacing private property or murder-- because someone is homeless, could be charged separately for committing a hate crime.” Maine already did that last year. A federal bill, now pending, wants to do the same.
I’m repeating myself for the fifteenth time—but hate laws are no good because they create special categories of victims; they criminalize bias, thoughts and beliefs not actions; they complicate law enforcement; they end up criminalizing speech; and they confuse the process of law enforcement which should be equal for all people, for all crimes, at all times.
But there’s not a lot of critical thought in the Maryland halls of justice, apparently. Their Senate passed the bill by a whopping vote of 44-4.
One of the four senators with brains (David Brinkley, who deserves to be named) said: “Someone murders someone, they murder someone, there shouldn't be a separate category for it. If they beat someone up, assault and battery is assault and battery. And if the rules are too lenient for some, then let's change them up for all."
Apparently this sunlit logic can’t penetrate the dense clouds of identity politics and victim lobbies, led mostly by Jewish groups such as the freedom-hating Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. If that 44-4 majority support of hate crime laws is even halfway mirrored at the federal level, we stand little chance of defeating a national hate crime law. Especially under a liberal President.
This story says the homeless bill only succeeded because of advocates for the homeless who championed it. This is what happens with hate crime laws: They pass because they have ardent minority defenders, and the silent majority doesn’t know enough to care. If Americans truly understood hate crime laws, these laws wouldn’t stand a chance. But evil laws can pass when small groups lobby hard and no one else really speaks up. When the majority realizes its doom, it’s too late. Just look at the neighbors.
Canadians are slowly waking up to the reality of hate speech laws, as conservative commentators face jail time for criticizing Islam. Canadian National Post blogger Jonathan Kay openly admits that Jews created these speech codes, which are now being used to punish even mainstream figures like Mark Steyn.
“Ironically,” he says, “the censorship regime that well-meaning Jewish intellectuals helped put in place to fight anti-Semitism a generation ago is now being applied to prosecute the pundits blowing the whistle on the one truly genuine threat that Jews are facing worldwide: militant Islam.”
This quotation matters not because it’s wholly true (Were Jewish intellectuals really well-meaning? Is militant Islam really the greatest threat, not Jews’ anti-Semitism-generating evil leaders?). It matters because this pundit casually assigns blame for increasingly unpopular laws to Jews—and that’s been taboo for a couple decades.
Maybe the tides can shift. Maybe more Americans can learn that hate crime laws pose the single greatest threat to our domestic freedoms, and this threat isn’t going away.
For that to happen, more people need to talk truth about hate crime laws—what they are, why they’re wrong, and also who’s writing them. The ADL is a strong force. Far too many Christian leaders are afraid to criticize hate laws because they will be smeared as “anti-Semites,” especially if they point out the ADL as architects. But that’s just simple reality. This fight is here to stay. Americans need to keep fighting. The people who want to take away freedom aren’t taking a nap.

 

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Harmony Grant writes and edits for National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog group.

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 steal it 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.

NATIONAL PRAYER NETWORK,
P.O. Box 828, Clackamas, OR 97015




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