Hate-Crime bill Talking Points:

I.  Family Research Council (FRC):

InFocus 

1. Penalizing Thoughts Instead of Actions. So-called "hate crime" legislation would have a chilling effect on free speech by making unpopular ideas a basis for harsher treatment in criminal proceedings.

·                 Currently proposed federal "hate crime" legislation would only authorize direct federal prosecution of those who cause or attempt to cause "bodily injury." However, such acts are already crimes, regularly prosecuted and punished under state or local laws. The offender's politically incorrect thoughts or opinions alone would make such crimes a federal offense.

·                 The proposed bill would allow federal authorities to assist in state or local prosecution of any "crime of violence," which is interpreted more broadly and includes even offenses where no physical force is used, but there is merely a "risk that physical force . . . may be used."

·                 The Hate Crimes Reporting Act of 1990 mandated that the statistics collected by the FBI define "hate crimes" more broadly still, to include even acts of "intimidation" (which can be as simple as name-calling). Approximately half the "hate crimes" in the FBI statistics are in this category. Once the principle of punishing thoughts as well as actions is established, it will be a simple matter to broaden definitions until thoughts and speech alone trigger prosecution.

·                 "Intimidation" has already been broadly interpreted to include the public criticism of homosexuality, as in the case of 11 Christian protesters charged under a Pennsylvania "ethnic intimidation" law on Oct. 10, 2004. The defendants were charged for peacefully protesting at a "gay pride" rally and faced imprisonment and huge fines before their case was dismissed.

Michael McGough, senior editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, writes "The best argument against 'enhanced penalty' laws is the constitutional one. In the United States, we are taught, you can be sent to prison for what you do but not for what you think. Not only that, if government picks and chooses which crimes are the most serious based on the motivation behind them or the ethnic background of the victim, that is a violation of the 1st Amendment, isn't it?" ("There's little to like about hate-crime laws," Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2007

 

 

2. Federal Intrusion into State & Local Law Enforcement. Currently proposed "Hate Crime" legislation empowers the federal government to intervene and prosecute alleged "hate crimes" anywhere in the country, thus usurping the prerogative of state and local law enforcement. Federal hate crimes bureaucrats can intervene and claim jurisdiction in localities which lack "hate crime" laws, or where those laws are judged not to be zealously enforced.

3. Sexual Orientation "Hate Crimes" - A Manufactured Crisis. According to FBI data (Crime in the United States, 2004, and Hate Crime Statistics, 2004), anti-homosexual "hate crimes" account for a miniscule fraction of total crimes in the United States:

·                 Of the 16,137 murders that occurred in 2004, one (.006 percent) was classified as a "bias motivation" because of the sexual orientation of the victim.

·                 None of the 94,635 forcible rapes that occurred in 2004 (0 percent) were reported as being a result of bias motivation because of the victim's sexual orientation.

·                 Of the 854,911 aggravated assaults in 2004, 181 (.02 percent) were classified as bias motivation because of the victim's sexual orientation.

4. Most Alleged "Hate Crimes" are Not Serious Violent Crimes.

·                 Intimidation: One-half (50.1 percent) of all bias-motivated offenses against persons involved the crime of intimidation, defined as the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without using a weapon or subjecting the individual to actual physical attack.

·                 Simple assault: Another 31 percent of bias-motivated offenses involved simple assault, which is a physical attack not involving the use of a weapon, and where the victim does not suffer obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury.

Does the rare incidence of violent "hate crimes" justify the creation through legislation of an entire new class of crime?

5. The Myth that 'Hate Crimes' Are Not Being Prosecuted. Proponents of "hate crime" legislation have not substantiated the assertion that state and local authorities are failing to prosecute such crimes. Ironically, in the most high profile case for hate crimes legislation, the murder of Matthew Shepard, the killers were convicted and sentenced to double life sentences without parole. Only the pleas of Shepard's parents persuaded the judge to spare Henderson and McKinney the death penalty.

Timothy J. Dailey is Senior Fellow, Center for Marriage and Family Studies, at the Family Research Council

II. South Dakota Family:

(http://www.sdfamily.org/print/79 )

Hate Crimes Talking Points

Talking Points on Hate/Thought Crime Legislation

Constitutionally Suspect – The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution affords equal protection to every citizen under the law. Hate crime laws establish an unjust system where victims are treated differently based on the “actual or perceived” class or group with which they identify.  Hate crime laws do not equally protect citizens. 

Unfair – The proposed categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in H.R. 1592 create special classes of victims based solely upon behavioral identification with a group of people.  If passed, the legislation would make a new protected class based on sexual behavior and self-identity equal with race, color, religion and national origin – a premise civil rights leaders find untenable. 

Dangerous – Hate crime laws ultimately prosecute thoughts in an Orwellian sense and require the government to determine the feelings and motives of a criminal. According to the FBI’s annual report on Hate Crimes, identifying feelings is beyond law enforcement’s ability and jurisdiction.  Due to the subjectivity of feelings and motives, there is enormous possibility of error in determining them.  To maintain order and justice, government must judge actions – not feelings.

Indefinable – Today, more than 25 different “sexual orientations” and behaviors are recognized, and homosexual activists insist that gender is fluid.  “Sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are impossible to verify or precisely define, which may be why “gender identity” is inadequately defined in H.R. 1592 and “sexual orientation” is left undefined. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that people are born with a sexual orientation.  Indeed, many people change their sexual orientation over the course of their lives and numerous studies confirm that sexual orientation is changeable.

Unnecessary – The most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report shows that bias-motivated crimes are on the decrease. In fact, less than 17% of all law enforcement agencies reported a single Hate Crime in 2005.  A total of only 1,171 “sexual orientation” bias crimes were reported (one-half of which were name-calling, pushing or shoving) – representing the largest and most consistent decrease of all bias-motivated crimes.  In addition, there is no evidence that states and localities are failing to prosecute hate crimes under existing statutes.

Un-American – Making protected classes based on sexual behavior will jeopardize our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religious expression. It is a short step down the slippery slope from a hate crime law to a “hate speech” law. As we have recently seen in Pennsylvania, Canada and other countries around the world, speaking one’s personal conviction in a secular or religious context can be prosecuted under hate crime statutes. Hate crime laws inevitably lead to thought Crime laws and the criminalization of beliefs.
 

Advancing Judeo-Christian principles that strengthen the family by influencing public policy and the culture.

 

III. for Focus on the Family's Citizen Link "Fact Sheet and Action Request on "Hate Crime" laws, click here: http://www.citizenlink.org/hatecrimes/