Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ever notice how Bush only vetoes bills meant to help people?

The Bush administration apparently cannot stand the possibility that gays might get any sort of protections.
Just hours after the White House issued a veto threat Thursday, the House voted to add gender and sexual orientation to the categories covered by federal hate crimes law.

The House legislation, passed 237-180, also makes it easier for federal law enforcement to take part in or assist local prosecutions involving bias-motivated attacks. Similar legislation is also moving through the Senate, setting the stage for another veto showdown with President Bush.


The White House, in a statement warning of a veto, said state and local criminal laws already cover the new crimes defined under the bill, and there was "no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement."

Well, let's see. According to this table from the Anti-Defamation League (warning: PDF), in 2006 there were 17 states without laws criminalizing hate crimes based on sexual orientation, 23 for gender, and 19 for disabilities.
Republicans, in a parliamentary move that would have effectively killed the bill, tried to add seniors and the military to those qualifying for hate crimes protection. It was defeated on a mainly party-line vote.

Yeah, we see all sorts of hate crimes against geriatrics and servicemen. Much more than the 1,171 offenses based on sexual orientation (including, mind, 23 heterosexuals) in 2005. This out of a total 8,380 incidents--so nearly one in seven hate crimes are based on sexual orientation. That's not even mentioning attacks based on gender or disability. But no, it's not something that the Bush administration needs bother with.

Typically, religious people started whining that hate crimes legislation would prevent them from being the bigoted assholes that they are.
Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, warned that the true intent of the bill was "to muzzle people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality." If you read the Bible in a certain way, he told his broadcast listeners, "you may be guilty of committing a 'thought crime.'"

I guess "Dr." Dobson never heard of the 1st amendment. You know, that little thing that guarantees the right of free speech?

Similarly, House Minority Leader John Boehner doesn't quite comprehend what all the hubbub is about.
I really don't understand it. We're going to put into place a federal law that says, not only will we punish you for the crime that you actually commit — the physical crime that you commit — but we're also going to charge you with a crime that if we think that you were thinking bad things about this person before you committed a crime.

I wonder if Boehner is also against the existing hate crimes laws, then, or if his opposition to them only comes up when it might punish people who beat fags to death.

But hey, why should religious people like Dobson care about hate crimes legislation for gays? After all, they've already got theirs!
Hate crimes under current federal law apply to acts of violence against individuals on the basis of race, religion, color, or national origin. Federal prosecutors have jurisdiction only if the victim is engaged in a specific federally protected activity such as voting.

Which makes statements such as this just laughable:
"Our criminal justice system has been built on the ideal of equal justice for all," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. "Under this bill justice will no longer be equal, but depend on the race, sex, sexual orientation, disability or status of the victim."

No no no, you flaming imbecile. For one, race is already protected. Further, 'justice' isn't dependent on the nature of the victim, but on the nature of the crime committed. You know, like how we deem some crimes to be worthy of more jail time than others?

But hey, maybe I'm being too harsh on the Bush administration; maybe it's not homophobia that's motivating them. After all, it's not like they care about other hate crimes, either.

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