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Except Gambling is Immoral

I like Ed’s offer… It’d be nice if those making noises about the hate crime bill would put their money where there mouth is. If they sincerely believe that the hate crimes bill will be used to stifle the kind of hate speech* that is de rigeur from evangelical ministers from the pulpit, then why not pony up & prove it? If they don’t really believe it, what’s the purpose of their agitation? Trying to keep a foot on the neck of the gay? Or just trying to create phony outrage to get sympathy for their cause, and maybe sucker some well-intentioned conservative Christians out of their hard-earned cash?

I favor the hate-crimes expansion – it’s not exactly the right policy, but it is not unjust toward hate-criminals, and it does better than nothing at recognizing and trying to stop systematic victimization of certain classes of minorities. I’m conflicted about passing it as part of a military appropriation. In fact, I dislike that method of doing business in Congress altogether. But that’s another story.

*No, it isn’t usually really “hate speech” that preachers agitating against gays are involved in. It’s not far removed from it, though. The excuse of “just preaching the Bible” is mainly B.S. While a harmonized Bible does seem to forbid homosexuality (depending on how you harmonize “the Bible”, that being an extremely tricky task in the first place), it absolutely does *not* require the kind of pulpit-driven jihad against homosexuality that we see today. That, as with other forms of intolerance probably comes from – I regret the cliche, but – ignorance more than “hate”… It isn’t that most preachers hate gays – it’s just that they don’t care enough about them as people to be very reflective or caring about how they approach the topic, or very diligent to be sure what they say is the best and truest account of things – even though they know that gay people generally feel hurt and put-down by what they do say. The result is that their speech toward and about gays is justifiably received as hateful. Unfortunately, the few preachers – even theologically conservative ones – who *do* go the extra mile to be caring and loving toward gay people get painted as “liberals” and exist on the fringes of their denominations. But none of this matters. The law is about hate crimes. Hate speech, and other intemperate forms of speech, are still protected by the first amendment.

17 comments to Except Gambling is Immoral

  • There are very few places where the hate is the primary problem. If you attack someone without legal justification, you should go to jail, regardless of your motive–Hating isn’t worse than greed as a motive.

    The only place where I see a reasonable exception is some forms of hate-motivated vandalism. A burning cross is worse than a burning bag of poo, (an old Halloween prank) even if both are really the same basic act. I still don’t think the exceptions are common enough to justify a new law.

  • I think hate does make the problem worse. Your example of the burning cross is a good one – the idea isn’t just to hurt the individual you are hurting, but to terrorize others who belong to the class. To force them to live in fear and to hide, so you don’t have to live with them. So, it’s a crime against more than just a person – it’s a crime against a person and a community.

    Furthermore, unchecked, we see that crimes of this type can become more and more organized until they reach the level of ethnic cleaning, or something similar.

    So, there’s a good reason – in my mind – to give them special status.

    I sympathize with the libertarian argument that you can’t outlaw thoughts, and that “motivation” is a thought. But I don’t think it washes, because it’s more than just the thought that puts this crime into a special category.

    And probably, on a moral level, hate is worse than greed. At least it is to me.

  • How were you able to read this legislation? I would like to read it for myself and see firsthand if the first amendment right to free speech is protected but haven’t found anywhere to read the bill?

  • Here is the relevant legal protection for free speech. It isn’t normally independently inserted into individual bills.

  • Looks like I was wrong. I imagine someone from a southern delegation did it, but I guess sometimes they do put it into the bills individually:

    3) CONSTRUCTION AND APPLICATION.—
    Nothing in this division, or an amendment made by this division, shall be construed or applied in a manner that infringes any rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Nor shall anything in this division, or an amendment made by this division, be construed or applied in a manner that substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), speech, expression, or association, unless the Government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest, if such exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to—
    (A) plan or prepare for an act of physical violence; or
    (B) incite an imminent act of physical violence against another.
    (4) FREE EXPRESSION.—
    Nothing in this division shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.
    (5) FIRST AMENDMENT.—
    Nothing in this division, or an amendment made by this division, shall be construed to diminish any rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
    (6) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS.—
    Nothing in this division shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution of the United States does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

  • Thanks for the link. I still do not know where to find the exact bill, if that isn’t it, but regardless I have a question everyone should be asking. How can the prosecuting attorney, the jury, or a judge know what a person is thinking if not by their speech?

    I suggest many crimes are motivated by hatred, but just how do you determine a person’s thoughts and heart? This is dangerous ground that the democrats are treading on. Not just dangerous for the Christian or the conservative. This is dangerous for every citizen. Who is to say that one hundred years from now, or whatever number it turns out to be, society has a new political correctness standard. The standard always changes over time. At that time, the law may be used to control the thought and speech of the homosexuals or the liberals, the very people it was written to protect.

    When the government begins to legislate morality and speech, it is dangerous for everyone and there is no way around this being a speech control issue.

  • How can the prosecuting attorney, the jury, or a judge know what a person is thinking if not by their speech?

    This is part of the libertarian argument. I sympathize with libertarianism, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to me to cope with the real world, where hate crimes are a reality, and for the sake of whole communities of victims, should be treated differently than other crimes.

  • If someone kills or commits violence against me or one of my loved ones, does it really make it better if the courts say, “Oh, this happened because she was a Christian so we will make the punishment greater.” I know that you guys think this law will deter people from violence, but I say it will instill more hatred and cause people to simply do what they are going to do in a different way.

    You “sympathize with libertarianism”. Why? Should you not feel sorry for yourself as well. Suppose someone you love commits a random crime and the victim turns out to be gay, but they honestly did not know that when it happened. Do you want the perpetrator to receive greater punishment because their victim was gay and the judge believes this is why it happened? In today’s world, that is what would happen. In tomorrow’s world, it may be if the crime is against a Christian female or it may be assumed that it was a hate crime if the perpetrator is gay. Is this really what liberals want?

    My position is that any crime should be punished according to the crime, not by the perpetrators gender, orientation, race, creed or religion or by what the judge deems was the accused’s emotional state when the crime occurred.

  • Suppose someone you love commits a random crime and the victim turns out to be gay, but they honestly did not know that when it happened.

    Then the hate crimes law doesn’t apply.

  • So the judge and/or jury will know what the person was thinking and know he doesn’t get “extra” punishment?

  • They certainly won’t be able to prove that it was a hate crime in a case such as you described. Perhaps if my loved one was a member of a hate group and had threatened to bash someone because of their race/religion/disability/gender/orientation/etc… but just happened to commit a crime against such an individual unintentionally, then maybe you could get a false conviction. You might want to look at how the federal hate crimes law has been applied in the past. The only thing new is that it covers more people.

  • I am aware of how hate crimes have been applied.

    My position is that any crime should be punished according to the crime, not by the perpetrators gender, orientation, race, creed or religion or by what the judge deems was the accused’s emotional state when the crime occurred.

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