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Saturday, March 31, 2007

If You Can't Beat The Hell Out of Gays, Religious Freedom is Dead

Sheila Jackson-Lee has reintroduced hate crime legislation written by John Conyers. The bill, called the David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, adds sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity to local hate crimes the Justice Department has the authority to investigate.

Since the legislation involves gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered/transsexual people, the religious right was quick to pile on.

Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America, quoted by WorldNetDaily:

"Truth is not allowed as evidence in hate crimes trials... A homosexual can claim emotional damage from hearing Scripture that describes his lifestyle as an abomination. He can press charges against the pastor or broadcaster who merely reads the Bible in public. The 'hater' can be fined thousands of dollars and even imprisoned!"

The Traditional Values Coalition created a somewhat insane political cartoon completely misrepresenting the bill. (see image)

Of course, this is a complete load. Hate crime laws are 'enhancers' -- meaning that a crime must already have been committed for the enhancer to kick in. It's like the difference between being charged with robbery and being charged with armed robbery. It's not illegal to carry a lockback hunting knife, but it is illegal to use it to rob someone. All it does is add a crime to one committed.

Likewise, it's already illegal to beat the hell out of someone. This would make it another crime to beat the hell out of someone because you hate gays. You can hate gays all you want, but you can't beat the hell out of them. In other words, nothing would change except punishment.

You can scream and cry and shriek that gays are evil all you want. Yay for you.

The religious right pulls this kind of crap all the time. Part of the reason is that they feel obligated to freak out whenever a law benefits people they don't like. The other reason is to perpetuate the myth that christians are persecuted in the United States.

This myth of persecution serves two purposes. The first is to portray a society that's profoundly evil and in need of drastic (i.e., 'christian') change. The other is to portray the leaders of far right evangelical movements as heroes and protectors. "If it weren't for the Campaign for a Religious American Partnership (CRAP), you'd all be in camps by now! So send us fifty bucks..."

And they make false comparisons to bolster their case. WND again:

Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth, noted that in Canada and France both, legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. Three years ago, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to put Pastor Ake Green, who preached that homosexuality is a sin, in jail for a month.

"And recently, a British couple told how they were denied the chance to adopt because it was determined that their Christian faith might 'prejudice' them against a homosexual child put in their care," LaBarbera added.

Notice how none of these examples are actually american? There's a reason for that. In Sweden, France, and the UK, speech is a privilege, not a right. Canada's right to speech isn't as broad as the american right. Which is why Pete -- who I've discussed here before -- had to go abroad to find examples to scare right wing christians with.

This myth of christian persecution is why FOX News (specifically, Bill O'Reilly) gins up a 'War on Christmas' every year. In fact, if you look into these claims of attacks on christian faith, you see that they're all as ridiculous as O'Reilly's.

Ann Coulter, from her book Godless:

If a Martian landed in America and set out to determine the nation's official state religion, he would have to conclude it is liberalism, while Christianity and Judaism are prohibited by law.

Keep in mind that was written when conservatives -- the extra christian kind -- controlled the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. As I wrote at the time, this would be one seriously stupid martian. Michael Schiavo would've been surprised to learn that government was overrun by godless liberals hamstringing fine christian conservatives.

By casting every damned thing they disagree with as an 'attack on faith,' they cast their followers as victims and themselves as protectors. Can't teach creationism in schools? That's an attack on faith. Can't fire someone for being something other than a christian? An attack on faith. Can't harrass women outside of abortion clinics? An AoF.

And now it's gotten so ludicrous that the fact that you can't kick the living hell out of gays is an attack on faith.

Paranoia has always been a hallmark of the reactionary right. It used to be communists under your bed, now it's 'secular progressives' -- whatever the hell that means. They're stealing Christmas, stopping people from reading the Bible, and putting christians in jail for hating gays. Except, none of it is happening. It's just one more con the right is pulling on their religious supporters.


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1 comment:

flinth said...

Okay, I'm not a right-wing nutjob. Let's get that out of the way right now. I agree with the thrust of your remarks insofar as you discuss the religious right's fear of persecution.

What I don't understand--seriously, I don't get it--is how are hate-crime enhancer laws a benefit to society?

I guess I feel that the judicial system, flawed though it is, has plenty of means to sentence criminals according to the severity of the crime. Are prosecutors really in need of better tools in their arsenals?

As to a societal interest in enacting hate-crime legislation, I don't believe that it serves any public interest. I suppose that one argument is that this type of law is a form of deterrent. If that were true, the death penalty would be a far more effective deterrent than statistics would otherwise indicate.