This country needs, among all the other things it is lacking, expanded hate crime legislation at the federal level for assaulting a person because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Not to disparage Matthew Shepard, after whom the Senate bill is partly named, but is it not enough to try those individuals involved in his death for kidnapping and murder? Is Wyoming so lame that the state cannot properly prosecute and punish those responsible for his death? And is it really worthy of federal tax money being spent to go after the culprits?
Get real! I don’t think so.
Making something a federal offense does not stop the crime from being committed. Those intent on spreading hate or acting out in a hateful way on racial grounds continue to do so without regard for what level of violation it may be. If not true, then racially motivated crimes would be nonexistent—and they are not.
Get real! I don’t think so.
CNN’s article contains the following: “Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile,” said Judy Shepard, board president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation named for her son. “Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families.”
Judy, you are sadly mistaken if you think this legislation will protect anyone. But the second half of what you say can provide hope. The government WILL NOT protect potential targets from violence, BUT you can be assured that federal tax dollars will be spent on top of local tax dollars to “provide appropriate justice for victims and their families”. AFTER THE FACT.
You see, few laws or regulations at the federal level protect people at all. We have the FDA, yet hundreds die each year from food-borne illnesses, improper medication, or botched medical procedures. The regulations did not protect those victims. It is up to those covered by the regulations and laws to voluntarily comply or face consequences. Many do what they have to do or can get by with until or unless there’s an issue. Then, of course, things change quickly due to the microscopic attention they are given.
Seat belt laws do not protect people or save lives. It is the voluntary compliance with those laws that save lives. Those who do not care about the laws disregard them and may end up a casualty of their own stupidity. But the law does not protect them.
Hand gun laws do not protect people or save lives. It is the voluntary compliance with those laws that save lives. And for those who do not follow laws or regulations, we hear about as many stories of accidental shootings, armed robberies, homicides, and guns in schools. Those who are law-abiding citizens follow the law on such matters and I would contend that these are not the ones we should worry about. It is the gang member or drug dealer with the gun—someone who has no respect for the law in the first place—that we need to worry about. You see, he’s going to have the gun and use it no matter what the law says. And the law cannot protect you from him.
Similarly, someone intent on attacking someone based on his or her sexual orientation or identity is not going to first stop and think, “Gee, if I hit this person, I may go to federal lock-up rather than county or state”. No, it doesn’t happen that way. For that perp, the law means nothing. For the intended victim, the law protects nothing. For the victim’s family, it will be little comfort that there’s an extra book to throw at the bum.
OK, let’s play this out in another direction. I go into a bar one night and am surprised to find out that it’s a lesbian bar. But I only find out after I hit on a woman who’s sitting at the bar by herself. Her partner comes along and doesn’t appreciate my hetero orientation or my attempts to play it out with her partner. She calls me some straight slur or insults my genitals before decking me. Is this assault worthy of federal attention because it’s based on MY sexual orientation, even though I’m not gay?
Seems it would be.
So let me get this straight—our economy is in the crapper, we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, unemployment is rampant, H1N1 is everywhere, and the priority for the Congress and President is to “protect” the GLBT community with meaningless legislation.