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Hate crimes in the U.S.

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Description of U.S. hate crime
legislation, from all viewpoints

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Scope of the 2009 federal hate crimes bill:

A hate crime is a crime of violence that is motivated by hatred of the group to which the victim belongs. Usually, the perpetrator and the victim are strangers to each other. For example, gay bashing involves a violent homophobe physically attacking a victim from the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. Typically, the main goals are twofold:

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To express hatred against a random member of that community, and
 

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To terrorize the entire community of which the victim is a member.

Some people feel that these additional goals are very disruptive to society and deserve a lengthened sentence beyond what is given for a random assault.

Many persons, often conservatives, feel that the perpetrator should be penalized only according to the injuries actually sustained by the victim.

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Opposition to the bill:

The main opposition to the hate crimes bill came from fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian individuals and groups. They focused on:

  • The definition of "sexual orientation." The bill's sponsors seem to have assumed that everyone agreed that there are three orientations: bisexuality, heterosexuality and homosexuality. Thus, they did not include a definition of "sexual orientation" in the bill. Some conservative groups exploited a weakness in the bill: they promoted the belief that there are not three sexual orientations; there are over 30. They added about 30 paraphilias -- sexual obsessions, some of which are criminal acts to the three sexual orientations. They included prostitution, pedophilia, having sex with dead corpses, having sex with animals, etc.

  • Fear of restrictions on religious freedom: Many conservative groups interpreted the bill as a prohibiting hate speech as well as violent hate crimes. They predicted that pastors would be arrested for conspiracy if one of their sermons directing hatred against lesbians, gays, bisexuals etc. resulted in a physical attack by a member of the congregation. An amendment to the bill was added to counteract this interpretation.

    Over a year has passed and no hate speech charge has been laid under this law anywhere in the U.S. Such a charge could not be laid because of the freedom of speech provisions of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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Status of the bill:

After a decade of struggle, an inclusive hate crimes bill was successful. The bill passed the federal House and Senate on 2009-OCT-22. President Obama signed it into law on 2009-OCT-28.

It will help protect every person in the U.S. from being the victim of a hate crime in eight separate ways, on the basis of their:

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Race,

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Color,

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Religion,

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National origin,

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Gender, whether female, male or intersexual,

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Disability,

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Sexual orientation, whether they be bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, and

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Gender identity, whether they be transgender or cis-gendered

Topics in this section:

bulletIntroduction:
bulletConfusion over hate crimes: what they are and what they are not
 
bulletQuotations; updating legislation; current status of bills
 
bulletDefinitions; existing laws
 
bulletU.S. hate crime statistics
bulletPhysical attacks motivated by religion or sexual orientation. Data accuracy
 
bulletHate crime law arguments: pro & con. Civil rights concerns about these laws.
 
bulletWould hate crime laws inhibit free speech?
bulletAccusations that free speech is endangered
bulletAre these accusations reasonable?
 
bulletIncluding sexual orientation as a protected class

bullet Attempts to create hate crime law update -- finally successful in 2009:
 
bulletYears 1999 to 2005: Timeline of legislative activity
bulletIn the federal Senate
bulletIn the federal House
In various states

 
bulletYear 2007 effort: House hate-crimes bill H.R. 1592, (Did not become law):
bulletProposed text; support; opposition
bulletExactly who is protected/not protected by the bill?
bullet Quotations by social and religious conservatives
bulletLiberals and conservatives differ on H.R. 1592; who is right?
bulletMarkup activity in the committee and vote in the House
 
bulletYear 2007 activity: Senate hate-crimes bill S 1105, (Did not become law):
bulletProposed text. Bill passes senate, but fails.
bulletSupport and opposition by religious groups
 
bullet Year 2009 activity: Hate-crimes bill << Passed
bulletActivity in the House; Bill H.R. 1913:
bulletA general overview of the House bill
bulletHouse committee activity. Fatal flaw in wording
bulletHouse passes bill. Support for bill
 
bulletAttacks on H.R. 1913 by religious & social conservatives:
bulletReaction by religious and social conservatives
bulletConservatives' specific concern over free speech 2009-APR
 
bulletActivity in the Senate; Bill S. 909:
bulletSenate passes bill. Religious hate speech has special protection
bulletObama veto? Double Jeopardy concern. Media coverage
bulletMore media coverage: how news sources mislead without lying
 
bulletBill signed into law:
bulletBackground. Bill becomes law. Positive reactions
bulletMore positive reactions
bulletDeceptive and negative reactions
bulletMore negative reactions. Author's comments


 

bulletCalifornia hate-crimes law (2004)

Reference used:

  1. Tony Perkins, "Flying the Co-op," Washington Update, 2009-SEP-15

 

Related topic:

bulletCanadian bill C-250 concerning hate propaganda

Site navigation:

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Copyright © 1999 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-JAN-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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