The Wasatch Behind: Hate crimes legislation
"Yo, Spud. Did you see the House of Representatives passed a new hate crimes bill?" I asked from behind my newspaper.
"What's a hate crimes bill?" Uncle Spud mumbled as he fumbled with the TV remote. "I ain't seen nothin' about it on TV."
"It hasn't been on TV," I said. "But hate crimes legislation is when they make it more of a crime to mess with some people than with others."
"Did they make it more of a crime for people to molest children or beat-up and rob helpless little old ladies?" he asked.
"Well, no. This legislation gives special protection to gay people."
"Wait a minute. Do gay people need more protection under the law than innocent children or helpless little old ladies?"
"That's what it's about," I assured him. "Crimes against children and little old ladies are just regular crimes. Crimes against gay people are real serious."
"You can't be serious?" Spud growled.
"It's true," I offered. "House Bill-1913 is part of a new trend to legislate politically correct behavior. It's a way to legally require tolerance and non-judgmental behavior toward the gay lifestyle."
"Hold on there," Spud sputtered. "When it comes to pornography and drug laws, liberals are always saying we can't legislate morality. How can they expect to legislate acceptance for gays?"
"You can legislate almost any behavior if you make the punishment severe enough," I assured him.
"You can't be serious," Spud growled again.
"Actually, what congress did this time was expand the old hate crimes bill of 40 years ago," I explained. "The old hate crimes bill made it a special crime to mess with people because of their race, color, religion or national origin. This new and improved hate crimes bill makes it a special crime to mess with people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or mental or physical handicaps. It seems the mental or physical handicaps part was thrown in to keep people from calling it a 'gay rights' bill."
"Sounds like legislation written in Hollywood," Spud grinned.
"I'm sure Hollywood had some input," I agreed. "But according to the New York Times, congressman Barney Frank said the bill is intended to protect people like him. After watching his performance on the house finance committee with the Fanny Mae mortgage meltdown and all, I think he was referring to his mental handicap."
"How can congress do this?" Spud asked. "Doesn't the Constitution say we are all equal and we all have the same rights and protections under the law? How can they make crimes against one group of people more serious than crimes against another group?"
"You're right," I agreed. "The 14th amendment to the Constitution guarantees every citizen of the United States equal protection under the law. Hate crimes legislation creates a special, or 'protected class' of citizen. That's a direct violation of the constitution."
"How can they pass this bill if it's a violation of the constitution?" Spud asked.
"The same way the government takes over the American banking industry," I said. "It's illegal, but they do it anyway."
"That's scary," Spud scowled.
"And hate crimes legislation, the way this bill is written, might even violate the first amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech," I informed him. "If this bill becomes law, some folks are expecting the liberal courts to interpret moral and religious objections to the gay lifestyle as a hate crime. In fact, reading some passages of scripture from the pulpit might soon be termed hate speech because of the Bible's anti-gay tone."
"Good grief," Uncle Spud moaned.
"But there's still hope," I told him. "The Senate must ratify the bill before it becomes law and they have yet to schedule a vote on it. There's still time to contact your senators."
"How did our Utah representatives vote on this bill?" Uncle Spud asked.
"Jim Matheson voted for it," I said. "Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz voted against it. The information is on the Internet. You can find how your congressman votes on any bill by going to: www.opencongress.org.
"You know you're going to be labeled a gay basher by pointing these things out?" Uncle Spud reminded.
"I know," I told him. "But I'm really a tolerant and non-judgmental type of guy. Miss California is my hero. Who am I to judge her choice of lifestyle?"