News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Hate crimes law intended to silence

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Legislation signed into law by President Obama Oct. 28 purports to target crimes of hate, but the new statute is nothing more than a tool designed to silence those who sincerely believe that homosexuality — and all of its accompanying off-shoots — is immoral.

Attached to the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act was an amendment that officially recognizes a “hate crime” as a federal offense. A hate crime is defined as a criminal act motivated by prejudice or bigotry.

According to the language in the bill, a hate crime “applies to violent acts motivated by actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of a victim.” “Sexual orientation” includes homosexuality and bisexuality, while “gender identity,” refers to transsexuals and cross-dressers.

The new law stipulates that people convicted of a hate crime could be subject to more prison time and penalties than people who commit a crime that falls outside the class of hate crimes. The law authorizes the attorney general to provide assistance to state and local officials in the investigation and prosecution of a hate crime.

On the face of it, the hate crimes law sounds noble. After all, who favors people being assaulted because of their race, gender or sexual orientation? I certainly don’t, and I know no one who does.

With that said, let me point out that we already have laws that deal with violent crimes perpetrated against individuals. If a person is proved to have assaulted or murdered another human being, that fact alone should be enough for state retribution.

Human life is precious. The fact that a human has been assaulted should be enough to garner the wrath of society. Why should the fact that the victim is Hispanic or Buddhist or female or lesbian or a cross-dresser or handicapped factor into the discussion?

What the new hate crime law really communicates is that there are certain classes of people that are more worthy of protection — special protection. In essence the law states that the government is going to be more diligent to prosecute and punish when any of these special categories of people are assaulted.

With the advent of the federal hate crimes law, the concept of equal justice is no longer a reality in the United States.

More alarming than the special status the government now accords certain segments of society is a provision in the law that allows for the prosecution of those who appear to “incite” or provide motivation for a hate crime.

An individual can be held liable for a hate crime even if his “exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to plan or prepare for an act of physical violence or incite an imminent act of physical violence against another.”

When the language in the hate crime bill is coupled with the provision in another federal statute, the results are sobering.

The federal aiding and abetting law states that an individual is liable for a federal crime even if they do not physically perform it, so as long as they “induce,” counsel, aid or abet it. “Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal,” the law says.

The provision in the new legislation along with that of existing federal law makes clear that the bill is intended to squelch opposition to homosexuality and similar behaviors.

According to the provisions in the new hate crimes law, if a person attended a church service and heard a sermon from the Book of Romans condemning homosexual behavior as sinful, and subsequently assaulted a person that was homosexual, the preacher could be charged with inciting, inducing or abetting a hate crime.

If you think that scenario is farfetched, you need only to take a look at Canada, Great Britain or Europe to see the effects hate crimes legislation has had on those who believe homosexual behavior is immoral. Fines and jail time have been levied on those who have dared transgress the law.

One other aspect of the new hate crimes legislation makes the intent of the law suspicious. Why was it hidden away in a defense appropriation bill? If the legislation is so meritorious and good for America, why not let it stand alone?

The hate crimes law is nothing more than a stick that will be used to beat into silence those who believe homosexual behavior is wrong. I say to the government, “Beat all you want. The truth will not be silenced.”
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • Kelly Boggs