Friday, May 15, 2009

Were You Planning on Slapping People?

hate crimes, homophobia, homosexual, gay, mormon, christian, legislation, beetlebabee, fred, phelps,
One of the oddest arguments against the new hate crime bill goes like this:

If a gay man slaps me, it’s a misdemeanor, maybe a fine. Under this law as proposed, if I slap him back, it’s a felony hate crime.

Understanding the law fail.

First of all, no, defending yourself from a physical attack is not a crime. One is allowed to engage in activities normally defined as crimes (i.e., slapping, punching, kicking, shooting) in the furtherance of self defense. In other words, if someone physically attacks me, I am allowed to physically attack them in order to make them stop. This has nothing to do with hate crimes.

Secondly, the author of this little rant is a Mormon, which means she is already protected under existing hate crime legislation. That's right, kids, hate crime legislation is nothing new. Currently, hate crime legislation protects people based on religion, race and country of origin. What we're debating now is adding sexual orientation and sex to the protections. So, people like our Mormon friend are essentially arguing that they want to have protection under the law that they don't want to share with homosexuals. (I don't see Beetlebabee arguing for dismantling existing hate crime legislation.)

Thirdly, was she planning on slapping people? Slapping people is against the law. If you slap people, you may be arrested. To whinge that you may get more punishment than you bargained for is a little . . . odd. "Not that I would shoot people, but if I do shoot people, I don't want to spend more than 15 years in jail. Adding an extra 9 years to my sentence would be completely unjust." Umm . . . what?

Fourthly, this is a complete misunderstanding of the point of hate crimes legislation. Beetlebabee is a Mormon. She is currently protected under hate crimes legislation. If the hypothetical gay man slapped* her because he finds her personally objectionable (who doesn't?), she's right, no hate crime. If, on the other hand, our hypothetical gay man slapped her for the purposes of terrorizing all Mormons, then yes, that is a hate crime. As the law stands, however, if Beetlebabee slaps the hypothetical gay man in order to terrorize all gay men, there is no hate crime. She would not receive the same punishment as he would in the same circumstance.

Lastly- Fred Phelps.

*yes, i know, slapping is not a hate crime whatever the reason, but i'd prefer not to discuss even hypothetical murders.


  1. PF,
    Very well stated.
    It shows the absolute contempt and intolerance harbored by these fundies.

    I suspect that once the hae laws are established some fundies will claim that they supported it all along.

  2. i think the problem with the idea of a hate crime is that its a form of thought crime.

    if a person assaults a man it carries a consequence but if he assaults a gay man it carries a harsher consequence. now, how can anyone prove to a jury in a court beyond a reasonable doubt that the man was assaulted because he was gay? bottom line is you can't - it'll just be assumed that the motive was homophobic in nature. voila - thought crime.

    now, i'm not a proponent of of assaulting people, but i am a proponent of equal protection under the law and hate crime laws provide for unequal protections for certain groups compared to other groups. this legislation can be taken advantage by anyone in the legal system in the form of added leverage over someone accused of this type of crime or in the form of the victim seeking damages in a civil case that they would not otherwise be entitled to if the case were not labeled as a hate crime.

  3. jason- i do agree with you to an extent. in fact, i think that if we are going to have hate crimes legislation at all, it needs to cover everyone. if it's not, then we need to scrap the whole thing. but this business of mormons are protected, but homosexuals are not needs to end.

  4. It's unfortunate that you got banned from Beetlebabee's blog. I went over and used your information to comment there; I hope you don't mind.

    I have posted about how the MSA does not infringe on religious freedom etc. at at least two different wingnut blogs. In both cases they censored my comment and didn't let it go through moderation. Talk about being unable to handle the truth.

  5. Where's my protection goddammit!

    As a straight, white, English atheist, I'm about as 'vanilla' as they come. I'd be hard-pressed to convince a jury that an attack on me was out of 'hate' for a specific aspect of my character that I share with a minority group (perhaps atheism, but good luck with that!).

    But really, is slapping someone because they're gay/religious/fat/political any worse than slapping someone just because you felt like it?

    Are 'obnoxious people' a minority group who need protection under hate crime legislation?


  6. I have a somewhat different view of hate crimes.

    If a person commits a crime against someone because that person is a memeber of a particular group, then that criminal is greater danger to society.

    And society derserves greater protection from that kind of criminal.

  7. I prefer to commit crimes against the whole of Humanity instead of any individual group, so I am still safe. I took my queue from President George Bush the Second.

  8. are you kidding, quote me wholesale! every post, every day, if you feel like it.

    i may have misrepresented my opinion. i do feel that hate crimes represent something more dangerous than regular crimes, for the reason john stated. however, i feel that anytime you are attempting to terrorize an entire group through one individual, that should be punished. so, gender and sexuality and disability should enjoy the same protection as race and religion.

  9. "If a gay man slaps me, it’s a misdemeanor, maybe a fine."

    Or, maybe a hate crime, if the gay man was slapping her because she's a woman. (Since, of course, the act ads gender to the list of protected classes). Or, maybe it wouldn't be, if he was defending himself. Hard to say, going on this simplistic little scenario.

    "Under this law as proposed, if I slap him back, it’s a felony hate crime."

    Maybe, if she slapped him for the sole reason that he's a gay man. Or, maybe not, if she was just defending herself. Hard to say, going on this simplistic little scenario.

    What an unbelievably simple and ignorant argument. You FAIL beetle blogger.


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