Letters to the Editor

Hate crimes and Orwellian legislation | Federal Way letters

So this is where assigning a relative value to people is leading us? Crimes against some people are punished differently than the same crime against others.

Amy Johnson's column July 22 reflects the well-meaning but legally, morally and intellectually bereft support for a sweeping "hate crimes" bill (aka, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act). Allow me to lead the more thoughtful readers through the fallacies involved with such thinking, and with this bill.

First, aren't most crimes against people by their nature hate crimes? They reflect a lack of respect for that person and/or his/her property. In some cases, true hatred is involved, but what difference does it make, from a legal perspective, what those factors are? If you don't believe one can hate without it being racially or sexually motivated, ask yourself how you felt the last time a little road rage kicked in. Did you even know the sexual orientation or race of the other driver? Probably not. Even if you did, it didn't make any real difference to you then, did it? Only the action taken against you was relevant. As it should always be. As the law historically has treated it.

Setting protected classes of people only serves to separate us by having a legal definition; a ranking, if you will, of the relative value of classes of people. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't our legal system predicated on the premise that all people are created equal? Why then should the rednecks who murdered Matthew Shepard be treated differently under the law than the Muslim who murdered the soldier in Oklahoma, or the black man who recently murdered a woman in South Park? All of those crimes were clearly motivated by hate. All of the victims suffered the same fate. Yet under "hate crimes" laws, they would be prosecuted differently. Why? Don't we already have laws against murder? Are those laws not being enforced? Are all people equal, or aren't they?

Johnson also understates a critical point of the Matthew Shepard bill, when she says that Christians who believe or preach against homosexuality are not committing a crime. True, the law does not make speaking against a protected class against the law (yet), but look at the difference should words escalate into actions. According to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, in recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a homosexual activist who is attacked following a Christian minister's sermon about homosexuality would be protected by the new law, but a minister attacked by a homosexual who hatefully disagreed with that sermon wouldn't be. Under cross-examination from the committee, Holder could not detail how existing laws were being shown as insufficient, either in definition or the level of enforcement. So why is he trying to force a fix to a problem that he cannot even demonstrate the existence of?

In addition, the Christian community and other family activists have been trying, without much success, to add a clause making it clear that there is no protection for pedophiles under this law. The Attorney General has stated strong opposition to this exception, despite bipartisan Congressional support for it. Why is that? Is the Obama Administration's moral compass so warped as to think that pedophiles should be a protected class of people, deserving of a higher value than their innocent victims and their families? Or are they unable to morally differentiate between a child molester and some fetishists who would also be protected? Can you see the labyrinth of lunacy being crafted here? This bill would force a prosecutor to charge a hysterical parent with a hate crime — with an additional 10-year sentence — if that parent physically or verbally confronted a pedophile who has taken advantage of their child. Now can you see the lunacy of this bill?

Bills like this, regardless of their intent, serve only to divide what is supposed to be one nation, by unconstitutionally codifying that we are not all equal under the law. Ironically, it is only when we stop focusing on our differences that hatred dissipates. This bill would promote the opposite, and increase a hatred they say they are trying to curb. Since laws already exist to cover the crimes addressed under this bill, a student of history can only see one intent in bills such as this. As has proved to be true in both Europe and Canada, Orwellian pieces of legislation like the Matthew Shepard bill are the direct precursors to "hate speech" laws. Please voice your opposition to this divisive and dangerous bill to your government representatives — while it's still legal to do so.

Rick Cook, Federal Way

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