Sunday, December 9, 2018

Hate Crime Prevention Law

Once again, the topic of hate crime legislation is in the news.  Indiana is one of five states without a Hate Crime Prevention Law. The Governor is pushing for the passing of such legislation.  I am expressing my opinion and this is not directed at any race religion or sexual identity. 

Since the anti-lynching laws our country has struggled to deal with hate shown towards race, religion and not towards sexual identity.  It has been in the news ever since Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder in Wyoming in 1998 hate crime legislation has been expanded to include "sexual preference" the main focus of hate crime bills.  The intent is to curb attacks against the LGBT community.   Despite its proper purpose to control these attacks, such legislation is ill-conceived.

Indiana does not have many hate crimes.  To read the headlines, it sounds like there is a crime spree taking place in the state of Indiana.  Last year there were a total of 55 hate crimes reported in Indiana.  Compare this to 360 murders, or the 14,364 aggravated assaults or the tens time the number of human traffic crimes as hate crimes-- makes hate crimes small compared to other crimes.  It could be argued that all crimes are hate crimes that start in the unregenerate heart.  Even if it were only one hate crime it is not acceptable. All crimes are an affront to any civilized people and should be addressed.

Jesus said, Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.  Matt 5:21-22

He goes on to say,  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.   But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Matt:43-45

Hate starts in the heart and is a spiritual matter. Hatred will not be abolished with a law nor will any law protect a person from being hated.

I am against crimes of hate, but I also am against hate crime laws for three reasons.

•    First, they criminalize thought, not behavior. Hate crimes laws are an attempt at thought control.  Keep in mind the intent of the Hate Crime Law is the prevention of a crime before it happens based on thought, not behavior.  Where would Jimmy Carter be if thoughts were crimes?  Remember when he said in a Playboy interview, "I've looked at a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times." Why do we need a thought control law when offenses like -- murder, assault, intimidation -- are already crimes and there are laws against each.  The legislation seeks to increase penalties when they are motivated by bias. The extra punishment isn't for what the perpetrator did, but what he was thinking while he was doing it. It criminalizes beliefs. Hate crimes also make a mockery of equality under the law by creating a dual standard of justice.  If you're battered, bruised and bleeding because your assailant has a personal grudge against you, the attacker gets one sentence. But if the same injuries are inflicted because of your race or religion or sexual preference, the punishment is more stringent.  Is the victim hurt, humiliated or traumatized less than the target of a group? If not, why is one crime more deserving of punishment than the other?

Even the ACLU is concerned that hate crime laws criminalize thoughts, arguing that it should not be a crime to think or articulate hurtful statements. Hurting someone’s feelings may be offensive, even emotionally painful, but it shouldn’t be against the law.

•    Second, they do not protect individuals, but instead, select classes of people.  The purpose of a hate crime law is to give the courts the authority to provide harsher sentencing.   Harsher sentencing does not decrease the number of hate crimes being committed. A focus on sentence enhancement for these crimes does nothing for prevention. Putting our energy toward promoting harsher sentencing takes it away from the more difficult and more important work of changing our culture so that no one wants to kill another person because of their perceived membership in a marginalized identity group.  Incarceration is supposed to deter crime, and harsher sentencing for hate crimes is supposed to prevent crime even more. However, this is not the reality. Longer time spent in prison increases recidivism. Our current system of imprisonment is producing more violence, not less. Hate crime verdicts will only add to this sad reality.

The mainstream LGBT movement—including national groups such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Lambda Legal Defense, as well as many local state advocacy groups—often disagrees within itself on political priorities, policy implementation and even basic strategies regarding social justice issues. But the one thing that almost all of them agree on is that hate crime laws are good for LGBT people, that they work to deter crime and that LGBT people are safer because of them. These groups are not out of line with liberal American thinking. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) both support hate crime legislation.

What is interesting to me is that the LGBT community is a strong supporter of hate crime legislation.  Have they looked at the statistics?  While good statistics are hard to come by, at least 30% of the transgender community has been incarcerated at some point. Trans folk are usually assigned to prison based on the gender assigned to them at birth. While in prison they are disproportionately targeted by violence, including rape and sexual assault because trans people are so unsafe in general population they are often put in solitary confinement, itself a harsh form of punishment. Hate crimes sentencing opens more trans people to violence within the prison, a place we seldom think about when considering where a violent crime takes place.  I would think the LGBT community would be asking the questions: Do these laws work? Do they deter violence against LGBT people? Do they make LGBT people safer? And, most important, are they fair and just?

In the case of Matthew Shepard, we will never know for sure if Shepard was murdered because he was gay. The two men convicted claimed to be gay.  They drove him in a truck to a remote spot and beat Shepard mercilessly. His skull was smashed with a handgun. His hands and face were cut, and his body was burned. Strung up on the fence, he was exposed overnight to 30-degree temperatures. His life was hanging by a thread. A few days later, at a hospital in Fort Collins Colorado, 22-year-old Matthew Shepard died. What is a fact in this case is both of his killers were given two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole without a hate crime law on the books? Even if there had been a state or federal hate crime law in place, it is also highly likely it would not have prevented the murder.

The public outcry created by the Matthew Shepard case to include LGBT people as protected categories in existing hate crime laws was not based on criminology or logic but emotion.

•    Third, Hate Crime Laws encourage hostility towards one group of people, Christians. Hate Crime Laws will have a significant impact on individuals who have a sincere belief that homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism violate their religious tenets. This encompasses a broad group of religions and religious beliefs. Those religions that believe these alternative lifestyles are wrong are compelled by their religious beliefs to speak out and to oppose the promotion of such lifestyles actively. So, the Hate Crimes Bill must be viewed from the perspective of those who believe they must actively oppose an immoral lifestyle. Care should be taken to distinguish those who advocate bodily harm and even death for those who participate in a sinful lifestyle from those who hold a sincere religious belief that they can do nothing to promote or accept an immoral lifestyle, and indeed, must actively, though legally, oppose such lifestyles. Hate is never justifiable to inflict bodily harm on another especially if the only justification for the injury is just because an individual does not agree with another’s lifestyle. The Hate Crimes Bill must be assessed in its legal impact on any religious group who attempts to peacefully and lawfully live out their religious beliefs and advocate against what their religious beliefs prohibit.

There is a change in this country towards Christianity.  For more than a decade now, those who proclaim allegiance to Christianity have been facing an increasingly hostile environment.  A good example is the War on Christmas.

As far back as 2003, an article published by World Net Daily highlighted a raging dispute that resulted in New York City over whether schools may be allowed to display religious symbols. Jewish menorahs and Islamic crescents were permitted, but nativity scenes depicting the birth of Christ were not allowed.

New York City lawyers maintained that the Jewish and Islamic symbols have a secular dimension, while the latter is “purely religious.” According to the WND article, one rationale for the objection to the nativity displays is that “the birth of Christ does not represent a historical event.”

The birth of Jesus Christ is not a fictional contrivance. It is one of the most firmly established events of ancient history. It is laughable even to hint otherwise. What does the “A.D.” used in the designation of the year mean?

Since the exact year of Jesus’ birth is unknown, it certainly is not probable that Christ was born on December 25. It is believed that this date was adopted, possibly in the second century A.D., because it corresponded to the “winter solstice” — when the daylight period begins to lengthen. December may have been adopted at that time as a symbol of the coming of the “sun of righteousness”.

Clement of Alexandria set the date of Christ’s birth on November 18, 3 B.C. Other ancient writers placed the time at May 20, 3/2 B.C., or on April 19 or 20 of the same year. The ancient record is a mass of confusion relative to the precise date of Jesus’ birth.

There is not the slightest evidence that there is any authorization for creating a sacred celebration of the birth of Christ. There is no instruction within the New Testament to ceremonially honor the Savior’s birth, and there is no indication that the Christians of the apostolic age did so.  There seems to have been no movement to formally celebrate the birth of Christ until about the first half of the third century A.D., when Hippolytus, “Bishop” of Rome selected January 2 as the day of commemoration.

All I know is that Jesus was born, was a real person lived died and was resurrected on the third day, and now sits at the right hand of the Father.  To suggest, however, that the Hebrew menorah and the Islamic crescent have a “secular significance” that lifts them above any religious association is absurd.

The menorah [Hebrew for “candelabrum”] has its origin in the book of Exodus (see Ex. 25:31-40; 37:17-24), where it was constructed by divine direction as one of the items of furniture in the Tabernacle’s holy place. It is considered the symbol of Judaism.

There is no doubt but that the crescent moon has become a symbol of the Islamic religion. In an article designed to dispute the claim of some, that the Muslim name for God (Allah) was originally a designation for a moon god, a follower of Mohammed readily concedes that “Muslims use the crescent as the symbol of Islam” (Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, What is the Significance of the Crescent Moon in Islam?)

New York authorities have adopted a double standard. Both Jews and Muslims are accommodated by a tolerance for their religious paraphernalia, while those who profess an affiliation with Christ become the victims of legal persecution.

Could it be that the New York authorities are committing a hate crime against Christians?  How many of those who made this ruling were Jews or Muslims?

Christians in the early 21st century are the world's most persecuted religious group. According to the secular International Society for Human Rights, 80 percent of violations of religious freedom in the world today are directed against Christians. We are witnessing the rise of a new generation of martyrs. Underlying the global war on Christians is the demographic reality that more than two-thirds of the world's 2.3 billion Christians now live outside the West, often as a beleaguered minority up against a hostile majority. Whether it's Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, Hindu radicalism in India, or state-imposed atheism in China and North Korea or Jewish hatred of Christians in Israel. In Europe and North America, Christians face political and legal challenges to religious freedom.

Most people in the West have little idea persecution is even happening: The global war on Christians has come to America.  There are legal oppression, social harassment, and direct physical violence, with Christians as its leading victims. 

Here in Indiana, Memories Pizza -- the first Indiana business to declare it would refuse to cater a gay wedding because of their religious belief was immediately flooded by threatening phone calls, and social media postings.  A lesbian teacher from Concord Community Schools suggested burning down Memories Pizza.  The gay community exhibited its hatred toward this Christian businessman who only answered a hypothetical question.  Did Mr. O’Conner act in a hateful manner and threaten to burn down a gay business?  No, he did not.  Did he call anyone a bigot? No, he did not.  Did he care that a gay man bought a pizza and served it at a gay wedding?  No.  He did not care what they did with the pizza after he sold it.  It is a fact that Memories Pizza served a man regardless of his sexual relationships. Its owners did not deny him service. They didn’t “turn him away.” They didn’t quiz the man when he came in, asking whether he identified as a homosexual or how he would use the pizza
Christians are interested in exercising the teachings of their faith regarding marriage, and in continuing to live quiet and peaceful lives in harmony with their communities, as we have been doing for years. We haven’t sought a fight; it has come to us out of hatred from a community that wants Christians to “bless their sin.”  If this is not hatred, why have we not heard of Muslim or Jewish businesses being targeted?

Christianity is not the only religion that does not accept homosexuality other religions like Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikh, Bahai, Druze, and Zoroastrianism all are against homosexuality.  So, why target Christians?

I fear that a Hate Crime Prevention Law will be a tool used by the anti-Christian groups to silence the message of Christianity.  I am opposed to this law and would hope that our elected Representatives will oppose any Hate Crime legislation.  These are my opinions and are not directed at any race, religion, or sexual identity. 

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