Does H.R. 1913 Violate The 14th Amendment?

I’ve been bombarded with “special news” lately about everything.  Swine Flu being the latest and greatest of course, but my roommate is covering that over at the JustMyTruth blog, so feel free to check it out.

I’ve often wondered what every new “pandemic” warning was covering up.  This time it looks like it might be the International Gun Treaty that everyone says Obama is all set to sign which would greatly diminish our 2nd Amendment guarantee to ‘keep and bear arms’.  I’ll save that for another time when I have been able to decipher the whole thing intelligently.

For now, I want to talk about H.R. 1913 otherwise known as the ‘Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009’.

I’ve been bombarded this past week with “must read” email notices about this bill.   The name alone makes me laugh…..this bill will PREVENT nothing (just like every other bill made that ONLY law-abiding citizens will obey anyway while criminals do as they damned well please).

Let me state here and now that I am actually against the whole premise of the bill, for reasons I’ll go into later on.

The calls for action have been claiming that this bill limits our free speech, is an attack on christian preachers (sorry if you preach that homosexuals are not worthy of life and someone takes you seriously you have helped incite them), though I admit this is a really tricky thing since free speech without self-responsibility can create havoc and harm, it is a fine line to walk between that and censorship (which I abhor).  They also state it will include pedophiles (and possibly rapists) as a protected class under “sexual orientation”.

The bill does not define sexual orientation OR limit it to homosexuals, bi-sexuals, transvestites, etc.  Apparently some in the House actually feel that since pedophilia is listed UNDER sexual disorders (along with those I’ve mentioned here) in the DSM-IV that they will be provided extra protection under the law from “attack”.  The reasoning being given is that if a mother discovered her child were sexually molested, and she confronted the perpetrator and slapped him (actually he’d be lucky if that was all she did), he might only be charged with a misdemeanor while the mother could be charged with a felony.

Personally, I don’t think any person in their right mind or in good conscience would feel the mother was guilty of a worse crime than her child’s molester.  Then again, knowing politicians and shyster lawyers just LOVE twisting common sense so hard you can’t recognize it anymore, I’m not wondering if these “panic” emails don’t have some merit.

First, what exactly defines a “Hate Crime”?  I know in MY mind what that means, and I’m sure you do also, but for some reason the government feels the need to actually “define” it and provide special protections to certain groups of people:

Sec. 249. Hate crime acts

    `(a) In General-
    • `(1) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person–
    • `(2) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, OR DISABILITY-
      • `(A) IN GENERAL- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, in any circumstance described in subparagraph (B), willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person–

Is it just me, or does this not also define “crime” in general to you too?  We already have laws on the books regarding the fact that it IS against the law to attack another person; whether by fist, club, gun, knife, whatever else you might think of using.  So right here, I want to know why an attack on me as a white, heterosexual female not be considered as terrible a crime as someone else?    Seriously, why should crime that kills or injures me, or anyone else not included in this “protected class”  not be prosecuted to the same extent?

This bill will require jurors to now also consider what a person was feeling or thinking to determine if it is a “hate crime” or just a “crime”.   Aren’t all crimes hate crimes of some sort?

This bill really just expands Federal authority in these cases.  I’m not sure that is necessary as any State is free to request help from the feds at any time in any situation IF they so desire.

Another good breakdown of this bill can be found here.  In particular the section under additional views which spells out the objections of some of the House members nicely.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my main objection to this bill is that it goes against our 14th Amendment to the Constitution:

AMENDMENT XIV

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Note that last sentence:  nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Now it just seems to me that by making special laws for some people, when that same crime committed against anyone else would not be pursued as hard perhaps, we are denying other segments of the citizenry “equal protection of the laws”.

And THAT is my whole problem with this bill.  I’m sorry, but a homosexual being beat up or killed for being gay is no more serious a crime than some white straight guy being beat up and killed for no good reason.

Sorry, murder is murder, assault is assault and one’s religion, sex, etc should have NOTHING to do with how it is investigated and prosecuted……………..Justice is supposed to be blind and this bill removes that blindfold and creates a new form of discrimination.

That’s how I see it.

Advertisements

~ by swfreedomlover on April 30, 2009.

10 Responses to “Does H.R. 1913 Violate The 14th Amendment?”

  1. The problem with not having a law against hate crimes is that too many people have killed other races/gender identities/sexes/etc specifically because of that race, gender identity, or sex and haven’t been prosecuted for it. (sarcasm) After all, who cares if another fag gets killed or another whore or another black/asian/mexican gets offed? Everyone knows they’re all worthless anyway, so who cares how many of them get killed and their murderers get away with it?(/sarcasm) Murderers of white, straight people get punished all the time, in numbers much higher than those who murder GLBT/POC. The only thing that pisses me off about laws like this is that they are passed and everyone thinks everything is going to be just hunkydory, and no funding is needed to ensure that the laws are enforced and that the people enforcing those laws are trained to enforce them (bigotry runs rampant in our police departments, and if you don’t believe it, just ask all the black people killed by white cops for no reason, the news is full of them when people get outraged enough to make a big enough stink that the media has to cover it, not to mention the beatings and killings of transgendered people). So these hate crime laws are necessary until bigots stop getting away with murdering anyone who doesn’t meet their criteria of humanity.

    • The problem with not having a law against hate crimes is that too many people have killed other races/gender identities/sexes/etc specifically because of that race, gender identity, or sex and haven’t been prosecuted for it.

      Like I said, murder is murder, assault is assault. Enforce existing laws don’t create new ones. If crimes are not prosecuted then you get rid of those not doing their job (AND prosecute them for not doing it too) and insist that laws be enforced.

      New laws are NOT needed. What is needed is for all these people in ‘authority’ to remember that they work for us and are accountable to us. WE are to blame for not insisting on that accountability and for not insisting that laws are enforced.

      This country just loves creating new laws when they don’t properly enforce the already existing laws. THAT is just too stupid for me to wrap my brain around. At the rate we are going these days, we’ll need a law telling us what kind of toilet paper we can use and how many sheets per use.

      So no, the laws are already on the books, enforce those properly!!! We don’t need a new law. Crime is crime and we need to demand “equal treatment/justice for all“.

  2. Lynda,
    I think now that we’ve moved past a feminist state of mind somewhat, you feel left out now, and a bit jealous. So, what you need to do is undergo that pigmentation change operation that Robert Downey Jr’s character in “Tropic Thunder” had done for the movie role, within the movie, and then become gay. Then you can have your specialness back!!

    LMAO!!! Just kidding. I kind of agree with you that murder is murder, assualt is assault (except in the case of self defense, then I call it willful personal preservation, which is legally protected in my world..i so want to move to my world someday, where everything is perfect!!HA).

    WE seem to have more laws that govern issues that already have laws in place for, than we do original laws. Hello, and welcome to the Redundant Department of Redundancy! Should I direct your call, or patch you through over the phone? LOL

  3. First of all, I agree with your specific comments about the problems with HR 1913 – without a specific definition of the term “sexual orientation,” the bill is too broad and unworkable.
    However, I read a pretty good defense of hate crime bills in general – in essence, the idea is that TWO crimes are committed: the original assault, and a “terrorist” act (for lack of a better term). To be clear, you stated that “a homosexual being beat up or killed for being gay is no more serious a crime than some white straight guy being beat up and killed for no good reason.” That’s absolutely correct, but you should note that straight white guys are ALSO protected under this bill (straight is a “sexual orientation,” white is a “race,” man is a “gender”). So IF the straight white guy was beat up by, for example, a gang of disgruntled Hispanic gays specifically BECAUSE he is a straight white man, then that is a hate crime.
    So the concept is not to differentiate between the “severity” of the original crimes (i.e., your point that “murder is murder, assault is assault”); rather, the idea is that there may be ANOTHER crime committed, based on intent. For example, when the KKK burned a cross on a black man’s lawn and then hauled him off to be lynched, their goal was not just to kill the black man – their goal was to intimidate the entire black community. Similarly, I think it can be reasonably argued that Matthew Shepard’s murder was not just intended to kill a single gay man; rather, the act of assaulting him and then “stringing him up” to die of exposure was ostensibly to send a chilling signal to the entire gay community in that area that they were not welcome, and that the same fate may await those who didn’t heed the warning.
    So the idea of a hate crime bill is to essentially create a new class of crime (the intimidation of an entire class of people), not just to create more punishment for an existing crime (murder, assault, rape, etc.). This is an important distinction that your dissertation above seems to miss.

    • You make some very excellent points there Michael. I understand your points also, but still feel we don’t need MORE laws on top of already existing laws. IF it’s difficult to prosecute a crime, trying to prove “thought” or “intent” will be even harder. At least that’s how I see it. Any crime committed intimidates the people near where it was committed.

      While I agree with your distinctions, I also feel just adding more layers just adds more confusion to the mix. Now juries will not only have to decided innocence or guilt, but intent/thought as well?

      I don’t see this bill as creating more punishment, just creating more layers to an already over-burdened system.

      • “IF it’s difficult to prosecute a crime, trying to prove “thought” or “intent” will be even harder.”

        Well, then every state will have to rewrite its entire penal code. Every crime has an intent element, or mens rea. The common law recognizes four mens rea: Intentional, reckless, negligent, and strict liability (e.g. you’re guilty if you did it, regardless of your state of mind) Every crime in the Arizona criminal code (Title 13 of the AZ Revised Statutes) lists a mens rea next to it.

        Courts infer the mens rea based on the actions surrounding it, not by reading minds. There are probably hundreds of pages of case law on what actions give rise to presumptions of a given mens rea. Beating someone up while shouting “queer” and “faggot” will, in short order, be qualified as the mens rea of intent to cause physical injury based on perceived sexual orientation.

        “Any crime committed intimidates the people near where it was committed.”

        No. I didn’t fear for my own safety when I heard what was probably my next door neighbor threatening his wife, because I’m not a target. However, if he had been scrawling “Die Atheist Scum!” in spray paint all over the neighborhood, then yes, I’d probably feel afraid. That’s what hate crimes are–a form of terrorism designed to intimidate large groups of people by making an example of one.

      • Very true what you say. If my neighbors are fighting, I don’t worry, unless one shoots the other (you never know if they’ll stop there); however, if the house next door to me gets burglarized, while my neighbor is sleeping, then Yes, I too will be afraid that I could be next since it was so close to me. That’s what I mean about all crime intimidates. The closer it is to you, the more afraid you become.

        We had a serial rapist/killer here in Phoenix about 3 years ago and I lived right smack in the area he/they were operating. Yes I was most definitely afraid, even though he was targeting women with cars (I have no car). At the same time, across town there was another ‘sniper’ who seemed to target people on foot and bicycles. Is area was more spread out and sporadic it seemed and being I used public transporation (walking to and from stops) and rode a bike………..I had concerns about him coming to my area as well.

        My basic premise though is that most crimes are basically hate of one kind or another….even if it’s just rage at the criminals own bad lot in life. But who is to say that the person who killed the gay man or the athiest and never uttered a word doing so, did it out of hate of that person and/or their lifestyle/belief? How do you prove the hate then?

  4. […] Here are a few links for more information about this sick and twisted bill: H.R. 1913 attacks free speech, What is going on […]

  5. “My basic premise though is that most crimes are basically hate of one kind or another….even if it’s just rage at the criminals own bad lot in life.”

    Actually, if you combined all the DWIs, petit larcenies, vandalism, and Aggravated Unlicensed Operations, you’d have probably about 90% or more of all crimes (not to mention NY’s non-criminal offenses of disorderly conduct and various traffic offenses, which probably would push it over 97-98%). But let’s drop that issue because I’m being needlessly pedantic. In fact, let’s stop using the word “hate crime” entirely, since those on the right seem to enjoy attacking the concept by asserting that “every crime is a hate crime.” Even though I’ve just shown that the vast majority are not, it’s not a relevant argument because the issue is really bias-related crimes. Would it make you feel better if we called them that? Bias-related crime?

    “We had a serial rapist/killer here in Phoenix about 3 years ago and I lived right smack in the area he/they were operating.”

    I’m going to try and paraphrase your point here. You’re asserting that because a person committing non-bias related crimes scares you in the same way that a protected person would be scared by a bias crime, punishing a person more harshly for a bias crime would be hypocritical.

    This argument fails because just because a law is hypocritical doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to do, just that it’s not far-reaching enough. That’s the problem with calling hypocrisy; it never addresses the merits of a policy, just where it’s pointed.

    Or maybe you’re arguing that because this guy’s actions sow more fear in the community than a hate crime felon, it makes no sense not to punish him severely too. Well, luckily, a serial killer is a Class 1 felon, which is punishable by death. There’s really no farther up the scale he could go. There is nothing the law can do to him more than executing him.

    “But who is to say that the person who killed the gay man or the athiest and never uttered a word doing so, did it out of hate of that person and/or their lifestyle/belief? How do you prove the hate then?”

    Who cares? I can think of some ways, but they’re not relevant. Even if you can present me with 100 circumstances in which I can’t prove intent, you’re no closer to proving your point. In fact, I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make at all. Are you trying to argue that because it’s hard to prove intent, we shouldn’t include it?

    Does that, then, include the mens rea of all crimes? Do you believe that all criminal statutes should be rewritten so that they don’t include an intent element? If so, why?

    • My point is this: What makes the assault and/or murder of one person any more heinous then the assault and/or murder of another, that special laws are needed to ensure stricter more aggressive prosecution/sentencing? In other words, why is one life valued more than another that it would require a special law? Murder is murder, I don’t care what the intent was/is……………..an innocent person is still dead because another broke the law.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: