Thursday, May 03, 2007

This one looks serious: Hate Speech Bill

The Thought Police

By Chuck Colson5/1/2007

What the Hate Crimes Law Would Do

In George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, the government Thought Police constantly spies on citizens to make sure they are not thinking rebellious thoughts. Thought crimes are severely punished by Big Brother.

1984 was intended as a warning against totalitarian governments that enslave and control their citizens. Never have we needed this warning more urgently than now, because America’s Thought Police are knocking on your door.

Last week the House Judiciary Committee, egged on by radical homosexual groups, passed what can only be called a Thought Crimes bill. It’s called the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. But this bill is not about hate. It’s not even about crime. It’s about outlawing peaceful speech—speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong.

Some say we need this law to prevent attacks on homosexuals. But we already have laws against assaults on people and property. Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals—far less than even 1 percent.

Another problem is that in places where hate crimes laws have been passed, hate crimes have been defined to include verbal attacks—and even peaceful speech. The Thought Police have already prosecuted Christians under hate crimes laws in England, Sweden, Canada, and even in some places in the United States.

If this dangerous law passes, pastors who preach sermons giving the biblical view of homosexuality could be prosecuted. Christian businessmen who refuse to print pro-gay literature could be prosecuted. Groups like Exodus International, which offer therapy to those with unwanted same-sex attraction, could be shut down.
In classic 1984 fashion, peaceful speech will be redefined as a violent attack worthy of punishment.

This is the unspoken goal of activist groups. We know this because during the debate over the bill last week, Congressman Mike Pence (R) of Indiana offered a Freedom of Religion amendment to this hate crimes bill. It asked that nothing in this law limit the religious freedom of any person or group under the Constitution. The committee refused to adopt it. It also refused to adopt amendments protecting other groups from hate crimes—like members of the military, who are often targets of verbal attacks and spitting. They also shot down amendments that would protect the homeless and senior citizens, also often targeted by criminals. Nothing doing, the committee said—the only group they wanted to protect: homosexuals.

Clearly, the intent of this law is not to prevent crime, but to shut down freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of thought. Its passage would strike at the very heart of our democracy.

The full Congress may vote on this bill as early as this week. Unless you want Big Brother telling you what to say, what to think, and what to believe, I urge you to contact your congressman immediately, urging him or her to vote against this bill. If you visit the BreakPoint website, you’ll find more information about this radical law.

If we do nothing, 1984 will no longer be fiction, and Big Brother will be watching you and me—ready to punish the “wrong” thoughts.

American Family Association – Tupelo, MS 38803


Paul said...

I looked up the actual text of H.R. 1592 and I don't see where it prohibits any kind of speech. In fact, this bill doesn't seem to do anything new to define "hate crimes" at all. It just offers aid to local agencies that are investigating hate crimes as already defined and allows the federal government to prosecute where the case crosses state lines or involves intra-state or international commerce. At the end it specifically states that it does not apply to any speech protected by the First Amendment.

Am I missing something?

Tom said...

If you are, then so am I. From what I can tell, the only acts that are specifically mentioned in the bill are when a person
"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."

Now I'm no lawyer, and maybe I am missing something, but I can't for the life of me see how this bill could be called a "Thought Crimes" bill. It would have been nice if, instead of making outrageous claims, Colson had bothered to present an argument that connects the innoucuous-looking language of the actual bill with the nightmare Orwellian outcomes he envisions if it passes.

Ed Darrell said...

Paul and Tom, It can't be called a thought crimes bill, unless someone is thinking about urging violence. And even then, it's only a crime when the violence occurs.

I suspect that the lawyers for the high-dollar radio preaching guys recommended some action, and it's certainly a hot-button fund-raiser -- but I'm quite cynical about this stuff, from experience. Texas's state board of education pulled out of the national association for state boards, last year, because the anti-bullying program offered included lines saying gay kids shouldn't be bullied.

The only rational explanation is opponents of the bill wish to preserve a right to bully gays. What the irrational reasons are, we can only conjecture.

The key portions of the bill are quite specific that they apply to criminal actions, such as when: "(I) death results from the offense; or (II) the offense includes kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill."

No court in the U.S. ever has, or likely ever will, confuse a sermon with murder or kidnaping. Were a preacher to urge such actions, however, charges would be possible as an accessory, or for violations of civil rights.

The act is clearly aimed to prevent church bombings, such as the one in Birmingham in 1963.

It's difficult to keep my cynicism in check: What in the world does Chuck Colson have in mind?

Tom, you may not be a lawyer, but you've given the law a more lawyerly reading than Colson did. I am a lawyer -- you're right.

DiverCity said...

I'm also a lawyer, and you're wrong. It's the way in which a law is *enforced* that is the key. If the thought crime aspect if absent, then what, pray tell, is the need for the law? In other words, as Colson points out, there are already laws on the books for assault, battery, and the like, so the only value added, so to speak, is the bad thought aspect. So, when parsed, the law clearly does reach *thoughts.* BTW, I'm not just against the wider application of the law to reach homosexual thought crimes, I'm against all so-called hate crimes, based clearly, as they are, on classism (some classes deserve more protection than others).

Jim Pemberton said...

Just looking for "code language" here:

"investigating hate crimes as already defined"

I agree with divercity: this is already 1984-ish.

"allows the federal government to prosecute"

centralization of power...

"crosses state lines"

radio and internet communications will be liable...

"or involves intra-state or international commerce"

Mission efforts often transport supplies internationally. After this bill gets teeth, try teaching sexual purity in an AIDS-ravaged country within earshot of someone from the US who would rather just distribute guilt-free condoms.

Jon said...

My brother (who has a law degree) sent me the following article about this bill, written by Texas Rep. Ron Paul:

Note in particular the fifth paragraph:

Hate crime laws not only violate the First Amendment, they also violate the Tenth Amendment. Under the United States Constitution, there are only three federal crimes: piracy, treason, and counterfeiting. All other criminal matters are left to the individual states. Any federal legislation dealing with criminal matters not related to these three issues usurps state authority over criminal law and takes a step toward turning the states into mere administrative units of the federal government.

Ed Darrell said...

divercity, you're partly right -- the law does indeed reach thoughts as acted out. The law makes it illegal to claim as a justification for beating a homosexual, that one's faith drove one to it.

Why, exactly, should anyone of faith worry about that?

Consider the thought aspect of our civil rights laws. Joseph Paul Franklin was not convicted because of his advocacy of racism under those laws. He was convicted for the act of depriving people of their civil rights when he murdered them in order to frustrate their use of a city park. Can you explain how, exactly, it is a miscarriage of justice to jail him for that?

Tom said...


For all I know, the point made by Rep. Paul might well be right (although I suspect that things aren't as clear cut as he makes them sound) and if it is, then that's a good reason to oppose the bill in question. However, that reason has nothing to do with Colson's claim that, if the bill is passed, we'll be living in an Orwellian state where clergy won't be allowed to say that homosexuality is wrong.

Hovey said...

I just finished reading 1984 a couple days ago. I think there can be a hearty case made for the connection of this bill to thought crimes. It has a lot to do with the discussion of the use of language in the novel that makes the connection clear, and the implications are worth being wary about.
In the novel, the fascinating aspect of persecution of thought crimes is that the things people are persecuted for are not actually on the books as illegal. There are no written laws actually broken, especially in the case of Winston, the main character. They are persecuted by Thought Police for statements, mannerisms and social irregularities that may point in the direction of future actions that violate the laws of Big Brother & the Party.
In the same way, no one will be able to make a law under our constititution that prohibits speaking out against homosexuality. However, could it be possible that laws such as these, passed collectively to legitimize homosexuality in a variety of contexts, have the same effect of making the public so pro-homosexuality that anyone who speaks out against it will look like a criminal?
I think that is the goal of those with a pro-homosexual agenda, and I think that is why laws like these can make our beliefs into thought crimes. Anything said against the Party is wrong, and will inevitably lead to an act against the State. That is the assumption in the novel.
In the novel, one of the purposes of rewriting language was to make it impossible to think or say anything against Big Brother. Whose to say we're not seeing that happen with our laws? Little by little the margins of our liberty are being restrained. Little by little our ability to speak our mind on a subject is squelched.
Remember, we're also dealing with a society that finds any politically incorrect stance intolerant. If enough of these laws are passed, anyone who disagrees with homosexuality is going to look like a criminal against the Nation and its citizens. Whether or not we'll be persecuted is one issue. But the pressure to be silent will continue to mount as these laws and their implications filter down into society. I may be able to practice my religion but I find it very disconcerting that one day I may be unable to speak it for fear of looking like a criminal. The real question is, is this possibility feasible? Could it actually happen in the future?

Ed Darrell said...

I am put in mind of Ezekial's note that Sodom was burned for its inhospitality toward strangers. One wonders why it would not be a good thing were people dissuaded from speaking against homosexuals?

We don't have laws that require manners, either, but few argue that it would be bad if laws encouraged people to be polite.

What are you constrained from doing that you would otherwise do, when a law punishes you after the fact> when you assault someone?

It seems to me this is only a problem if you have plans to assault someone, and you wish to recruit a mob to join you.

freddie podlogar III said... never take one scripture, and create a doctrine on that. Always look for like-minded scriptures throughout OT and NT.
Do you really think Sodom was destroyed for inhospitality? Wasn't LOT the one inhosopitable, according to your reading of it? Why did "all" the men, young and old, come and want to "know" LOT's guests? If it was inhospitality, then why was LOT so scared, upset, and offer daughters instead? It was destroyed for wickedness, including homosexuality. Troy Perry is going to have to answer to the LORD one day why he is misleading you?
God Bless us sinners, for we are saved by His blood.