Saturday, October 10, 2009

New federal law will make thought punishable

Passing a law that makes an act a crime does not stop such acts from occurring; it merely punishes a person who performs the act. There is nothing wrong with punishment for committing an act that society deems wrong but it should be recognized that punishment is a form of societal revenge and not a device to prevent offensive acts.

But there is a problem with what acts should be deemed punishable. Of course there will be general agreement about many acts which should be regarded as punishable acts, i.e. crimes, but there is a huge grey area where some acts may be regarded as worthy of societal retribution and others are simply an effort of behavioral modification, e.g. murder is wrong, punishment for not wearing a seat belt while driving is for behavioral modification, but society punishes both, albeit with different severity.

There are a great many arbitrary criminal laws that are in place in an ineffective way to dictate what a person should and should not do. The fact is that although some may be frightened for fear of punishment to conform to the societal dictate, not everyone will.

The theatre of the absurd is illuminated when society adds to the mix the concept of motivation to determine what is a crime or is not. Not only is it necessary to then “guess” at why a person does something but if the punishment for an act which has been previously deemed criminal is “enhanced,” then a situation is created where the untenable becomes the rule and anything becomes possible to criminalize and punish whether reasonable or not - which brings us to “hate crimes.”

What is a hate crime? The answer is whatever law makers say it is. And what do law makers say is a hate crime – whatever a sufficiently strong pressure group wants it to be. There need not be any logic to it.

Last July in another of the Democrat’s leader’s tricky moves, the senate voted to expand the 1969 federal hate crimes law to include people attacked because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability by attaching it to a “must pass” defense appropriation bill. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid said: "This bill simply recognizes that there is a difference between assaulting someone to steal his money, or doing so because he is gay, or disabled, or Latino or Muslim."

The vote was 63-28 (nine senators did not vote). All 56 Democrats who were present and the 2 independents (Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernard Sanders of Vermont) voted "for" the legislation. The Republicans who crossed party lines to vote in favor of the amendment were Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and George Voinovich of Ohio.

Recently a similar bill passed by the House, (HR 2647) - the Defense Authorization bill, also to which hate crimes legislation was attached. The hate crimes amendment is attached to a $681-billion defense allocation that now heads to the Senate. After the bill passes the Senate and the president signs it, federal prosecutors will be able to intervene in cases of violence against people because of gender, sexual orientation, "gender identity," or disability.

Homosexual advocacy groups and their Democrat allies have been trying for decades to broaden the reach of hate crimes law. "It's a very exciting day for us here in the Capitol," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, saying hate crimes legislation was on her agenda when she first entered Congress 22 years ago.

It is noteworthy that the Senate and House leadership chose not to allow a separate vote for this but attached it to a totally unrelated, but necessary, bill to authorize critical defense spending; the reason is obvious, standing alone congress was unlikely to go along with this arbitrary absurdity.

"The very idea that we would erode the freedoms for which our soldiers wear the uniform in a bill that is designed to provide resources to those soldiers who need to get the job done and come home safe is unconscionable," said Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana who is a member of the Republican leadership.

This is the first time in American history that thought alone is being criminalized. Until now the government has adhered to the admonition by Thomas Jefferson who said the reach of legislation should extend only to actions and not to opinions but now the law will punish people not just for what they did but what they were thinking when they did it.

Consider the effect this will have on the practice of religion and freedom of speech. Anyone speaking from a pulpit who preaches the biblical view of homosexuality may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Not only does the new law make thought a factor in criminality, it also extends the power of the federal government over the states. Despite many states also having enacted hate crimes legislation, it would provide federal grants to help with the prosecuting of hate crimes and funds programs to combat hate crimes.

The federal government can step in after the Justice Department certifies that a state is unwilling or unable to follow through on a purported hate crime.

It in not likely that this law will be able to be repealed in the future so it will remain the law of the land and another triumph of a special interest group, in this case the homosexual community.

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