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Keep it Simple, Legislators

"Hate crimes" legislation, now before Congress, would unleash legal chaos

by Rev. Ted Pike

Our traditional American legal system has served us well for generations largely because it requires, in most cases, one vital thing before it will concede that a crime exists: physical evidence - broken glass, blood, bullet holes, etc. The exception is verbal crimes, which come under such well-defined (and adjudicated) labels as "threat," "harassment," "libel," "slander," and even, perhaps, "disturbance of the peace."

Yet, since passage of the "Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990," a new federal offense, "intimidation," has been created. Intimidation comes into being when bias-motivation prompts a verbal threat of physical harm, i.e. when a skinhead shouts, "You faggot, I'm going to break every bone in your body!"

Because "intimidation" is brand new to the legal dictionary, being invented to facilitate the thought-crimes agenda, it is not fettered by the legal precedents and restrictions of traditional speech crimes. In other words, it is custom-made for creative broadening by courts and legislatures. If anti-hate bill S625 (HR1343) now before Congress is passed, here is what will happen, as it has in Canada and other countries in which "thought crimes" legislation has gotten a foot in the door.

Although originally outlawing only bias-motivated threat of physical harm (intimidation), judges and legislatures will be quick to enlarge the definition of intimidation to also protect the emotions of groups, such as homosexuals. Thus, just as the courts today are equally concerned with the emotional, as with the physical effects of, for example, child abuse, so courts and legislatures are tilted sharply toward expanding the term "intimidation" to criminalize those words which threaten groups such as Jews and homosexuals, not just physically, but emotionally. Already, even without passage of S625, state legislatures are broadening "intimidation" in such a manner, creating state "anti-hate laws" more extreme even than their proposed federal counterpart.

One Idaho purchaser of my recent video, "Hate Laws: Making Criminals of Christians," writes:"

"Your material is already very relevant here! There was a citizen recently charged in Council, Idaho, for a hate crime at the high school football game. He is an adult who used the "n" word in response, I understand, to a black male referee grabbing his wife. He was charged with felony violation of Idaho's so- called "hate crime," has lost his job and had to leave the area for employment purposes, and he and his family have been just plain persecuted ever since. I agree he was rude, should not have used an insulting racial term; but that is all he did. To try to destroy a man and his family for using insulting language is outrageous, unjust and a travesty of justice. The individual who committed the physical assault is the one who should be charged." 

The general maxim, "without physical evidence there is no crime," has stood English and American law well for hundreds of years. Let's not allow either state or federal lawmakers to open a Pandora's box of legal confusion by establishing a new system of law based on the claim that bias-motivation and accusation can constitute a crime.

Most legislators believe outlawing "intimidation" will help create a kinder, gentler world. They unthinkingly rubber-stamp "anti-hate" bills into law.

It is up to us to set them straight.

NATIONAL PRAYER NETWORK, P.O. Box 828, Clackamas OR 97015 www.truthtellers.org


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