Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hannity & Hate Crimes

Just flipping channels on tube tonight, and there's Hannity on Fox News talking to an Iowa Republican about the new hate crimes legislation. According to Hannity, and many other folks in the rightwingoverse, this new hate crimes legislation will provide more protections to pedophiles than veterans. It will also destroy free speech and could be considered an attack against Christians.

Well, knowing how hate crimes legislation is usually misrepresented, coupled with the proven hyperbole of right wingers with microphones and television shows, I looked up the legislation just to make sure. Even Hannity said "this is unbelievable," and apparently, those were the only words of truth he spoke in his opening segment.

Just as I suspected, the complaints about the new legislation are nothing more than sensationalism, partisan hackery and outrage-as-news bullshit.

Let us take the money quote from the action section of the legislation. Someone can be persecuted for a hate crime if they:

willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person...


willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerouse weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person

Nothing about speech. Nothing about pedophiles and veterans. So, what in the world is Hannity talking about?

He's talking about a GOP amendment specifically designed to inject pedophilia into this debate.

Luckily, John Stewart at the Daily Show already took this issue to task, and included college football as well. For those of you who think Stewart is "too liberal" as opposed to "rooted in common sense and comedy," please see also his reference to hate crimes as redundant, which is the only rational place this 'debate' should exist.

You still don't get to hit them.



patsbrother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patsbrother said...

(1) Pedophiles are sexually attracted to children. This attraction is (at least part) of their sexual orientation. Thus, if someone targets a pedophile for being a pedophile, then that person has attempted to injure the pedophile based on the sexual orientation of that pedophile.

Without the Republican amendment, this legislation would subject individuals who beat up pedophiles to the enhanced punishment provisions of the hate crimes legislation.

(2) Some people hate the American military, and hate American military personnel. If we're going to enhance defendants' punishment for hating their victims based on what their victim are demographically, what is illogical or undesired about adding veterans to the otherwise long list of suspect classifications?

(3) As it stands, this legislation would extend to pedophiles whatever incremental protection hate crimes laws provide (based on sexual orientation) but would not extend that protection to veterans (who are not protected by the hate crimes legislation).

Are you really unable to see this argument? Really? The GOP amendment is not meant to inject pedophilia into the debate, but to prevent the legislation from extending its protection to pedophiles.

I basically see this as Republicans saying: if it's going to be a law, it might as well be well-written and make sense.

(4) Personally, I think the proponents of hate crimes legislation (Democrats) and the majority of the everyday Americans who support them don't know exactly what they're doing.

The only reason for providing elevated punishment for hate crimes is this: if the only reason this defendant harmed this victim was some demographic category of the victim, then this crime does more than just harm that victim. It acts as a threat which extends to all the members of the community who fit that category. Such acts say: you [insert category here], you have extra reason to stay inside, to stay outside of the public eye, and to live in fear.

Again, this is the only reason I can fathom that justifies hate crimes legislation. Generally, unless you're some crazy woman suffering from post-partum depression, you hate your victims.

I do not agree with the application of hate crime laws in that recent well-publicized murder trial of the transgendered individual. I don't agree with it because there was a relationship there. The defendant stayed with the victim for three days, after conducting a long relationship on the internet. It was not a case where someone chose a victim because of the victim's demographics; it was a case where aspects of a relationship led to the crime. The harm done to the victim is exactly the harm that would have been done to anyone else in a murder case. There was no added harm to the community at large.

However, thank you for bringing this to my attention. Thank you for letting me know that the Republicans in Congress really are trying to work with Democrats. While this is not the type of legislation Republicans typically support, it is nice to know that congressional Republicans are working to make the legislative enactments of the Democratic Congress are at least the best laws they can be under the circumstances.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

That you cannot see the political nature of this written-for-talk-radio amendment, you haven't been paying attention to how ridiculous politics have become. This has absolutely nothing to do with a better written law.

Number one, there are many members of the right who have continually attempted to equate homosexuality and any number of sexual deviancies, including pedophilia. They do this over and over and over again and have for decades. This move is nothing more that the continuation of that.

Two, should we abandon assault, attempted murder, manslaughter and murder laws because they protect pedophiles as well?

Three, the legislation does not automatically subject individuals to enhanced punishment, the legislation provides for the application for additional money and manpower in the prosecution of items determined to be hate crimes.

Four, with that badly written amendment, people could escape hate crimes prosecution with the excuse "I thought he was a pedophile."

Five, there have never been domestic terrorist organizations numbering in the hundreds of thousands dedicated to terrorizing the population of military veterans. There have been such organizations from street mobs to political parties dedicated to terrorizing people based on actual and percieved race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identiy, real or perceived.

Six, you make a good point when you get to the root of why we have hate crimes laws "It acts as a threat which extends to all the members of the community who fit that category. Such acts say: you [insert category here], you have extra reason to stay inside, to stay outside of the public eye, and to live in fear."

What you have a problem with are the application of hate crimes laws within the system. That is OK, as many people have many problems with the ways certain laws are applied. That's why you had a job, last time I checked.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Then, O'Reilly got into the act as well, but was promptly rebutted by this post a Media Matters.

patsbrother said...

(1) How - I repeat: HOW - does making an exception to a hate crimes bill that INCLUDES sexual orientation equate the EXCEPTION with the sexual orientation class as a whole?

Pretermitting whether that even makes sense, tell me what isn't advantageous of specifically exempting those targeted for their sexual orientation towards children from the added protection of a hate crimes bill? Perhaps the brouhaha is the natural reaction sane people have to others' outright refusal to add such an exception.

(2) And let's assume you're much less likely to get attacked for being a servicemember than for fitting the other categories already included in the hate crimes bill. Then where's the harm in putting it in there? Why the outright denial? WTF?

(3) Amazingly, your own argument shows why the Republican position is the superior position on this. If there's no real threat of violence against servicemembers, then the law will never be applied in such cases and you lose nothing. Similarly, if no one would ever use the law to prosecute a pedophilia-driven hate crime, then nothing will change if you add the exception.

Thus, there is nothing at all to lose with the additions of the new classification and the new exception; however, conceivably, there is something to be lost without those additions. The better policy would be to make those additions.

(4) Just to address things you raised.

As to your Two: No, we should not abandon assault, attempted murder, manslaughter and murder laws because they protect pedophiles as well as others. Because those laws protect everyone equally. Hate crimes legislation, by their very definition, treat different people differently. They add protection to certain classes of victims. As with all legislation, it is best to explicitly exempt those situations to which you do not want a law to apply, and if you extending added protections, it is exceedingly reasonable to exempt those you do not think should have added protect.

As to your Three: the law does enhance punishments for those who commit hate crimes, as well as increase funding to assist state prosecutors who seek enhanced punishments under state laws. See, e.g., the punishments permitted in proposed sec. 18 USC 249.

If hate crimes were not separate crimes or aggravation of separate crimes, there would not be separate laws for them. Think, dude. Think. You might also want to read the whole law.

As to your Four: as with all criminal proceedings, the State or the United States would have to prove the added element of hate beyond a reasonable doubt. If a defendant wanted to say, yeah, I did it, but I did it because the man was a pedophile: (1) he'd already be admitting to the ag assault charge or murder or whatever the underlying substantive crime was; and (2) that would read in the nature of an affirmative defense, which means that if the prosecution put forth evidence sufficient to sustain a conviction of the hate crimes aspect of the law, then the defendant would have the burden to put up proof of his alternative intent or else the court wouldn't let that argument go before the jury.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

The problem here is a misunderstanding of how politics works. Arguing the theory behind it is one thing, we obviously disagree. These laws do protect certain classes of people, people that have, historically, been systematically singled out for terroristic threats and persecution. You said yourself, a hate crime is directed at more than just an individual, and I don't trust local and state agencies to prosecute such crimes consistently, even now. I want the extra level of federal protection.

Arguing about the frivolous application of hate crimes laws is another thing, one on which we do agree. But bad implementation does not mean the legislation that created it was bad.

Oh, and unless you can find a veteran that has no race, creed, color, sexual orientation, nationality, gender, etc. etc., this law does cover them. Every veteran I know has at least four of those.

But the politics is where the reasonability collapses. Detractors are claiming this law will limit speech, which it will not. Detractors then insert pedophilia and veterans into the debate for the pure purpose of being able to bring the ludicrous charge that "Democrats support pedophiles more than veterans."

That is why our politics have grounded to a halt. Bullshit like this.

patsbrother said...

The ludicrous charge that "Democrats support pedophiles more than veterans" comes from the Democrats' nigh incomprehensible opposition to these changes.

And you have just highlighted how little people understand hate crimes legislation. (That, or your social integration prevents you from thinking logically.)

EVERYONE has a race. EVERYONE has every other thing you listed. These things are IRRELEVANT to servicemembers who are attacked BECAUSE they are servicemembers. REGARDLESS what race a servicemember is, if the servicemember is attacked BECAUSE he or she is a servicemember, and the hate crimes legislation does not cover that crime. Otherwise, every crime is a hate crime.

The importance of the law is not WHO is covered (theoretically, everyone is, as you've just mentioned). The importance is WHAT ANIMUSES are included. Thus, if a servicement is targeted not because of his or her race or gender, but because of his or her status as a current or former servicemember, then that servicemember is not afforded the additional protection of the hate crimes laws.

If we took your logic to its logical extreme, we would only need to choose one category - race OR gender OR orientation OR color OR national origin - because everyone has one of these, everyone is "covered," just like the servicemembers would be covered in your argument. If your logic is the prevailing logic, then that vitiates hate crimes legislation of any sense or purpose it may have had.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I'm just going to keep throwing your own words back at you, because you said it better:

The only reason for providing elevated punishment for hate crimes is this: if the only reason this defendant harmed this victim was some demographic category of the victim, then this crime does more than just harm that victim. It acts as a threat which extends to all the members of the community who fit that category. Such acts say: you [insert category here], you have extra reason to stay inside, to stay outside of the public eye, and to live in fear.It is simply the best defense of this legislation I can fathom.

As to the politics, it isn't my fault you haven't been paying attention to how this works. I've only been writing about the development and power of false poltical narrative on this blog since April of 2005.

The GOP constantly attempts to link homosexualtiy to deviant sexual behaviors. The reason they make amendments like this is to rouse their base and raise funds. They do this to reinforce a narrative that they have worked on for at least a generation while I've been listening.

I think the Dems need to come up with their own version of this, for the next time Republicans gain power. The Dems can come up with something equally as inane, for example, the "protection of cute, cuddly kittens clause," and attach it to every bill. That way, when the GOP rejects such amendments in committee and on the floor, Democrats can then say that the GOP favors animal cruelty and the brutal dismemberment of cute, cuddly kittens.

patsbrother said...

I do understand how this works. One proposes, another amends, people banter things about a bit, and then they vote on it.

Even though you appear to agree that pedophilia is an orientaiton that should not be granted extra protection, (and I assume you agree that servicemembers should be protected from those who target them as servicemembers).

This is only a "thorn" in Democrats' side because they said no. You have still yet to give me a (valid) explanation of a downside. What you think Republicans are doing this for has nothing to do with the actual merit of the amendments they have proposed, unless you care more about politics as a game than politics as a means by which we create new laws.

I'm curious as to why you keep quoting my own words back to me when those are not on point with the merit of the proposed amendments, which is what we are talking about. The question here is not whether hate crimes legislation is valid at all but whether these two discrete modifications should be made.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

pedophilia is an orientaitonPedophilia is neither a legally recognized orientation nor is it a recognized disability. It is a recognized crime. It is not covered by this legislation.

If the GOP wanted to address pedophilia, they should have done so. If they felt our current statutes were too lenient, (which I think they are) they had between 1994 and 2008 and a rather large and public scandal to do something about it. They had chances to make it a death penalty offense.

They chose not to do so.

patsbrother said...

Pedophiles are sexually attracted to children. That is their orientation.

Pedophilia is NOT a crime. Child molestation and child porn are crimes.

There was no point to raising this legislation between 1995 and 2002, and 2003 and 2007 (the applicable years), as no similar legislation arguably extending protection to pedophilia was raised in which an exception would have been made. Your point is inapposite to current reality.

Also, neither race nor creed nor color nor national origin nor sexual orientation is a disability.

Again, you do not understand the nature of hate crimes if you think this should properly have been addressed in laws criminalizing pedophilia. Murder, ag assault, kidnapping, rape, robbery and all the other laws hate crimes legislation would enhance - all of them are crimes as well. Again, your logic - such activity is already criminalized elsewhere - applies to every crime that falls under the hate crimes legislation. If you presume the need for a hate crimes law, you cannot justify your position here with that logic.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

It's OK, little brother. I'll wait for you to reread my last comment, in light of evidence already entered into comment record.

patsbrother said...

Convenient that you ignore 9/10 of my comment. I stand by my statement. And O'Reilly is off the mark.

That doesn't make pedophilia any less of an orientation, and your argument that pedophilia shouldn't be exempted from the hate crimes legislation because it's addressed elsewhere is still invalid. (Voila! That mysterious 9/10 of my comment!)