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Federal "Anti-Hate" Bill Puts Noose Around Freedom

by Rev. Ted Pike

In America, although there exists great social pressure not to criticize certain groups, such as the Jews, it is still not a criminal offence. Yet that can change. The present "anti-hate" bill now before Congress, S625 (HR1343), lays the foundation for an "anti-hate" bureaucracy identical to Canada's. S625 would put a noose around freedom of speech by establishing a federal "anti-hate" bureaucracy, which would take precedence over the states.

To the dismay of federal "thought police," the rights of states in America, unlike in Canada, stand squarely in the path of federal anti-hate legislation. Particularly during the last 75 years, liberals have tried to corral state lawmakers and law enforcement under greater federal control. Yet state legislatures have rights, like mustangs in a corral, to break out of federal attempts to confine them.

For example, the FBI cannot intervene in local enforcement of civil rights laws except in six unusual circumstances. These include interstate commerce, voting fraud, jury tampering, and so on.

Secondly, federal law enforcement cannot dictate to the states how they define crimes of bias. If a state does not want to enlarge its civil rights laws to give special protection to homosexuals, the federal government cannot currently force it to do so.

Third, the federal government cannot dictate to the states the penalties for bias-motivated crimes.

And fourth, the federal government cannot forbid a state legislature from rejecting hate crimes law altogether.

All this will change if S625, the "Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999," is passed. S625 would give the federal government the right to:

1) Define a hate crime - including homosexuals as a special, federally protected group, along with race, religion, gender and ethnic origin;

2) Criminalize verbal intimidation of gays. This can easily include taunting at a gay rights parade, or preaching against them from the Bible. (Such federal power to end free speech, the real purpose of S625, is never disclosed to us by proponents of this bill, such as Senator Gordon Smith. Rather, they portray S625 as merely enlarging federal jurisdiction over violent bias-motivated crimes.)

3) Define punishments for violent hate crimes, enhancing punishments for any assault in which bias seemed to be a motivation. S625 could sentence anyone who physically harmed a gay to 10 years in prison.

4) Allow the federal government, at will, to invade states' rights in enforcement of hate laws.

If this bill passes, states can no longer reject anti-hate laws. With the federal government defining hate laws and their penalties, imposing these on the states, meddling in states' enforcement of them and punishing states who do not comply, there is little left a state could add to an anti-hate agenda, even if it so desired. S625 establishes a comprehensive federal anti-hate program for all 50 states, whether they like it or not.

Law Enforcement: Keep It Simple

Today, more than 30 states have adopted anti-hate laws. These already favor homosexuals and often elevate punishment for minor bias crimes such as petty vandalism to the level of a felony. Such hate laws - which require police and the courts to determine motivation - complicate law enforcement. Yet, in those states which have not ratified the anti-hate agenda, punishment of all violent crimes, regardless of motivation, remains simple: if someone assaults another for any reason, he is usually guilty. Justice is quick and in most cases severe. Case over. It does not matter if the victim is tall or short, smart or stupid, gay or straight. His or her assailant will by punished.

S625, however, would establish a motivationally based federal anti-hate justice and law enforcement system, superceding the authority of states. Together, the federal and state governments will no longer confine themselves to outlawing and punishing acts of definable physical violence. Rather, they will enter the business of the psychologist - or God, probing into the motivational mindset of those who commit violent or verbal crimes.

Gays a Protected Species Under S625

Let's consider what passage of this bill could mean on the local level. Last fall in Oregon, a 15-year-old male high school student insisted on his right to attend school wearing lipstick, a wig, a dress with padded bras, and high heels. Students were outraged. Some might have been tempted to taunt or even give him a black eye. Yet, if S625 becomes law, any student who chose to verbally "intimidate" or lay a finger on him would be in grave legal danger. Under certain circumstances, S625 could impose up to 10-year prison term upon anyone who gave so much as a bruise to this homosexual student.

On the other hand, there are, on this same high school campus, boys who are smaller or shorter than average. Throughout my experience in public schools, such boys have been the favored targets of schoolyard bullying. Yet if verbally intimidated or assaulted, they are not a part of "protected group," as is a transvestite teenager. If the transvestite is called "faggot" or "queer" or roughed up, then under S625, the entire federal anti-hate law enforcement and legal machinery could come to his aid. If a short or small boy (also a member of an historically oppressed minority) suffered the same assault and was called "runt" or "twerp," the most that he could do would be to file an assault and battery charge with the local sheriff's office. State law could require a fine or community service from those who physically assaulted him, but the federal government would not be interested in his case. Thus, while undersized boys, when assaulted for their size, are protected under the Constitution, they do not have the special protection that S625 gives homosexual boys when verbally or physically assaulted. Small boys are thus victims of discrimination under the pro-gay, federal apartheid set up by S625.

The cry of civil rights idealists during the sixties was, "He who diminishes any other person diminishes me." Yet a government that gives special rights and protection to some above others also diminishes me.

Why Worry?

The vast majority of Americans and even Canadians do not feel threatened by anti-hate laws. Why? They penalize only a few in society for actions and words that the majority would never engage in. Most people have no intention of assaulting a gay, or "intimidating" him, either physically or verbally. Nor would the thought enter their minds to criticize a Jew. "So what is the problem?" they ask. "S625 has no bearing upon me or my church." But it does. To be free, a society must have absolutely no noose, loose as it may seem, around freedom of expression. The nature of a noose, once having been placed around an object, is that it can be tightened.

For "thought police," the final criteria of whether a "hate crime" has been committed is: 1) whether a person, or persons feel emotionally damaged; and 2) whether their verbal critic did, in fact, intend to hurt them emotionally. In Canada and Sweden, and some other European countries, fulfillment of these two criteria is now sufficient to convict. And in accordance with the prevalent idea in society that "intolerance" is especially bad, enhanced penalties are exacted by the court on hate crime violators, usually tripling the penalty of a crime motivated by intolerance. For example, under Oregon's hate laws, 13 year old boys who sprayed swastikas in a school yard in the spring of 2001 (petty vandalism) will now be charged with a felony.

Federal Power Grab

S625 means the federal government is entering the anti-hate business big time, laying the foundation for an anti-hate bureaucracy. Since it criminalizes verbal "intimidation" of gays, it opens the door to outlaw other types of speech which have been "proven to incite acts of racial and sexual violence," words which are "anti-Semitic," "intolerant," "sexist," "judgmental."

As in Canada, assurances are given that only these very few, especially evil verbal incitements to hatred and violent hate crimes will be criminalized. All other speech will be encouraged! But tomorrow, with a noose of legal and law enforcement apparatus already constructed, legislators will keep adding amendments, increasing the types of speech outlawed, and the number of "identifiable groups" included. Pedophiles, witches, abortionists, pornographers will line up to get on the anti-hate bandwagon. They will demand special federal protection from those who hate - meaning those with Christian and patriotic values.

It is then that the final stage of noose tightening can occur. Perhaps as a result of right-wing terrorism, scandal, or an international crisis, the federal government will ban all speech, publications, videos, and public and private statements, which are not first approved by state anti-hate tribunals. With dissenting voices silenced, our freedoms will be gone.

Anti-hate legislation is evasive, giving no hint of its actual long-term intentions. Because it does not seem to threaten the way of life of most people, it is difficult to combat. Even in Canada and some European countries where freedom to speak on all topics is only a memory, citizens have been conditioned to make adjustments. They have no comprehension that the freedom to speak one's mind without restraint, the greatest gift of God next to life itself, has been stolen.

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


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