Hysteria will not win friends or influence people. That goes for the left or the right.
Hysteria on the Right
The American Family Association (AFA) has been putting out hysterical emails titled “Don’t allow President Obama to remove America’s most basic freedoms”. Once you cut through the hysteria, though, the truth is a lot tamer than some would like to portray it.
Specifically, HR 1913 adds nothing new to current “hate crimes” laws other providing assistance for prosecution. Specifically, the section on hate crimes says:
SEC. 3. DEFINITION OF HATE CRIME.
In this Act–
(1) the term ‘crime of violence’ has the meaning given that term in section 16, title 18, United States Code;
(2) the term ‘hate crime’ has the meaning given such term in section 280003(a) of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (28 U.S.C. 994 note); and
(3) the term ‘local’ means a county, city, town, township, parish, village, or other general purpose political subdivision of a State.
I suggest anyone who is concerned read the entire bill. It is very short.
So, what does section 280003(a) say? Well, according to the Anti-Defamation League website:
Enacted in 1990, the HCSA requires the Justice Department to acquire data on crimes which “manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity” from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual summary of the findings. In the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, …Congress expanded coverageof the HCSA to require FBI reporting on crimes based on “disability.”
IOW, the legislation targets crimes based upon prejudice. They are already crimes, so this really does not limit free speech, etc.
Now, if you see the problem with the above statement, good for you! If you do not, then please consider: If they are already engaged in crimes, then why is more legislation needed?
Is it really more wrong to mug a black person or a defenseless grandmother who is an easy target? Is it really more wrong to harass someone for being “gay” than to harass someone for being a nerd? Why is one type of prejudice worse than another?
You have heard of freedom of speech. What about freedom of thought? Since when are thoughts legislated? Aren’t laws supposed to punish actions? Can people honestly say they understand where a person’s heart is?
Hate crime legislation is wrong because it puts a judge in God’s seat. God looks on the heart. Human judges are not mind readers, nor are they qualified to judge someone’s moral condition.
Hysteria on the Left
However, I guess that is not going to stop those on the left from trying to judge people because of their thoughts and beliefs. The Telegraph posted on 15 April that a new report by Homeland Security warns that “Right-wing extremists ‘pose new threat to US’”. Fears about the economy and the election of the 1st black President might drive up memberships in white supremacist and militia groups, according to the report. The Telegraph goes on to say:
But it warned that home foreclosures, unemployment and other consequences of the economic recession “could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists”.
“To the extent that these factors persist, right-wing extremism is likely to grow in strength,” the report said.
The report warned that military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat skills could be recruitment targets, especially those having trouble finding jobs or fitting back into civilian society.
There has been a huge backlash against the report by conservatives and veterans groups.
According to MSNBC.com, “Homeland Security leaders defend vet memo”:
Top Department of Homeland Security officials on Sunday defended an agency intelligence assessment warning that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could be susceptible to recruitment by right-wing extremists, though one said it should have been “more tightly written and presented.”
… She said the warning report, which went out to American law enforcement agencies two weeks ago, was consistent with earlier reports.
Oh, yeah! The earlier reports that call those who campaign for Ron Paul a “potential terrorist” group?
OTOH, maybe they just fear veterans might be upset about long, repeated involuntarily extended tours in combat zones only to come back, find their jobs gone and unable to afford their home and living in the street.
Let’s see, who else might “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations”? It’s starting to sound like scare-mongering at its finest.
Where do we stop with the hysteria? Are blacks more likely to be terrorists because of years of discrimination and prejudice? Will Grandma and Grandpa rise up in arms because of diminishing Medicaid payments? Maybe Perez Hilton has finally snapped and is going to put the Miss USA runner-up on a burning cross for being against gay marriage. Perhaps those who were ripped off by Bernie Madoff are going to riot in the streets. How many more ridiculous scenarios can we conjure up?
The US has become much more polarized over time. We have trashed all of the principles that made us great, including reason and rational discourse. Instead of logic, we employ post-modernism and emotionalism. When we lose our morality, we lose our self-discipline. When we lose our self-discipline, emotions overtake reason. When emotions become the rule of the day, we lose our humanity.