"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day

5.03.2007

Outlawing Hate.

Today the House passed a bill to include crimes based on gender identity and sexual orientation in hate crimes legislation. This bill is expected to pass in the Senate soon as well. And then it is expected to be vetoed by our dear, dear president. So, my question is, "Why is it that you, Mr. Bush, are opposed to outlawing hate?" He states that he believes the law to be "unnecessary and constitutionally questionable."

I did not understand what he meant by this, so I browsed around the Internet, and here's what I found. Apparently, this bill is unnecessary and unconstitutional because (a) it makes crimes against certain people punishable to a higher degree than those perpetrated on a non-minority individual, thus violating "equal protection under the law." I'm not buying it, but at least it's somewhat logical. So on to (b) there's no need for such things, as all violent acts included in this legislation are included elsewhere, and are thus being adequately punished. This last one is my favorite, (c) as stated by our good friend James Dobson, "the bill’s real purpose was 'to muzzle people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality.'" What I gleaned from my Internet reading is that there is fear that someday the liberals will take over and make it a crime to even express distaste for the lifestyle of another person, thusly limiting freedom of speech and thought and consequently religion.

So now my questions...When did it become a right to express hatred for others? Why is it that our want to freely condemn people outweighs our eagerness to prevent any violent crime in any way possible?

4 comments:

Matthew said...

"When did it become a right to express hatred for others?"

In the U.S., it became a right with the passage of the Bill of Rights. The first amendment reads:

"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech."

The Supreme Court has allowed that certain speech acts intrude upon the rights of others (yelling "fire" in a crowded theater), and therefore can be outlawed, but in general restrictions to the freedom of speech have to meet fairly high standards. (School control of speech on campus being one that I really don't get, but which is currently being reexamined by the Supreme Court.)

The fear of most sane people (Jimmy Dobson excepted) is that the U.S. government will start arresting people for saying things that are offensive or stupid, but cause no immediate harm.

Casey said...

I know it's very unAmerican of me, but I don't really think we should be fighting to maintain our right to express hatred for other human beings. It's sad that this is one of our essential freedoms.

JTB said...

brent makes me watch 60 minutes on the Sundays I don't make it out to Brooklyn. It's sort of like lemon juice in the ol' paper cut and all--I mean, do I really need to feel any worse??? But he loves it and so I try my best to tune out the droning of the TV but inevitably I get sucked in. All that to say, I saw the 60 Minutes spot on Lou Dobbs yesterday. Maybe what he does is "free speech" but all I could think about while listening to his interview was, that man gives people permission to be racists. So--is it his right to spew that stuff? Sure. But speech is more than a "right." Speech is a responsibility. Somehow in all our political and legal talk we forget about that. it is irresponsible speech to hand out rationales for hate.

Matthew said...

"I don't really think we should be fighting to maintain our right to express hatred for other human beings."

Some people feel the same way about our right to marry whomever we choose, regardless of gender. =P

Anyway, now is not a good time to allow any erosion of our civil liberties. Essentially, when you make a law regarding hate speech, you give the guys with the guns another excuse to put people in prison. So in my opinion, it's much better to resist hate speech using means other than legislation ... I'm less worried about loud, hateful people than I am about quiet, hateful people who happen to be authorized to use deadly force.