By: Brian Sikma
In a replay of the 2004 Senate hate crimes debate, Sen. Gordon Smith (R) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) have submitted an amendment to the Defense Reauthorization bill (H.R. 1585) that contains the same language as their hate crimes bill, S. 1105. This move increases the likelihood that hate crimes legislation will pass the Senate.
By attaching a controversial piece of legislation to a must-pass bill, hate crimes legislation supporters will succeed in limiting debate on a bill that could impact American law for decades. The amendment status of this proposal could obscure the tough vote choices that senators have to make. Senators would be allowed to quietly vote on the proposal without having to face the debate that a regular bill would require.
If a hate crimes bill were to become law, it would mandate that citizens receive unequal justice. Allowing a criminal to get a lighter sentence because he committed a crime against a majority individual, and then giving a heavier sentence for the same crime if it was committed against a minority individual, is allowing the law to discriminate in the application of justice. The only kind of discrimination that we should allow in our justice system is discrimination that favors right.
If the government were allowed to start punishing individuals for their supposed thought process, where are we going to draw the line? What is an acceptable thought today may be unacceptable tomorrow. At what point are we going to be able to logically say that enough is enough? When the government starts criminalizing thoughts instead of just actions the government becomes a thought police. Republicans, Independents and Democrats should all be able to come together in opposition to thought police.
Supporters of this measure argue that hate crimes are prevalent and require immediate government intervention. However, the facts speak to something different. According to the FBI less than 0.02% of murders can be classified as “hate crimes.”
In a bit of irony, S. 1105 is referred to as the “Matthew Shepard Act” after a homosexual male who was supposedly killed in a hate crime incident. Unfortunately for the bill’s sponsors, Matthew Shepard was killed not because he was a homosexual but was gunned down by a drug ring hit team. Matthew Shepard was the victim of a drug fight, not a hate crime.
Please take a moment and contact your Senators today and urge them to vote against the proposed Amendment No. 2067 to the Defense Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1585). By going to http://www.senate.gov you can find your senators’ contact information.