A long-debated bill to broaden the federal hate-crime law to cover violence against gays was approved Thursday by the Democratic-controlled House in what would be the first major expansion of the law in more than 40 years.
The measure, which is expected to go before the Senate within days, had faced a veto threat from President George W. Bush, but it has President Obama's support.
And speaking of flying under the radar, Congress must’ve caught the 6 Sigma bug as these hate-crime provisions were attached to a $680-billion defense policy bill which included a pay raise for the military and authorization for the development of a new engine for the next-generation jet fighter among other things. It's all about streamlining the process, don't you know?
The measure passed by a vote of 281 to 146, with Republicans complaining that they had been put in the politically awkward position of voting against a defense bill.
"We should not be doing social engineering on this bill," Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) said.
"Shame on you," he told Democrats.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) said that Democrats had needlessly introduced a "partisan matter in an otherwise bipartisan defense bill for our troops."
"No member should be forced to vote for a partisan social agenda in order to provide for our troops," he said.
While all this is true, perhaps the Republicans should’ve been thinking about the consequences of elections sometime prior to 2006.
You all know how we feel about hate crime laws. We hate them. Again, it would seem that the term “equality” is being confused with “gaining federal protections above what other groups receive.”
The two killers of Matthew Shepard (the gay man who was tortured and killed 11 yrs. ago in Wyoming and who has been the rallying point for gays wanting to be treated just a little more equally than others) are sitting in prison at this moment serving life terms. Just how would hate crime legislation change the outcome of their trial and/or “enhance” their punishment?
We would not have any problems if these two savages were given the death penalty and we don’t see why you would need specific (gay) hate crime law for that.
How about a simple the "Tie a person to a wooden stake to beat, torture and kill him and... get the electric chair” law?
(UPDATE #1): Greetings, racists! Slipped into the Senate version of this "defense policy bill" is wording that broadens the scope of the hate crime provisions in the House bill. The Senate bill would leave it up to the Attorney General to determine if a group is “associated with hate-related violence against groups or persons or the United States Government”. Some language from the bill:
(3) EVIDENCE OF ASSOCIATION OR AFFILATION WITH HATE GROUP.—The following shall constitute evidence that a person is associated or affiliated with a group associated with hate-related violence:
(A) Individuals possessing tattoos or other body markings indicating association or affiliation with a hate group.
(B) Individuals known to have attended meetings, rallies, conferences, or other activities sponsored by a hate group.
(C) Individuals known to be involved in online activities with a hate group, including being engaged in online discussion groups or blog or other postings that support, encourage, or affirm the group’s extremist or violent views and goals.
(D) Individuals who are known to have in their possession photographs, written testimonials (including diaries or journals), propaganda, or other materials indicating involvement or affiliation with a hate group. Such materials can include photographs, written materials relating to or referring to extreme hatred that are clearly not of an academic nature, possession of objects that venerate or glorify hateinspired violence, and related materials, as determined by the Attorney General.
We're clean on the tatoo front but considering some of the rhetoric thrown around by this country's taste-makers and politicians we may be guilty on all the other fronts.
Exit question: In what sort of jeopardy does this place Che t-shirt-wearing barristas around the country and their inherent advocacy of violence and homo-phobia?