Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

No Hateration: House Approves Hate Crimes Bill

Hooray! It's Friday, the sun is shining (somewhere), and the US House of Representatives has passed the Hate Crimes bill! Says Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) of Missouri:

"This bill is a powerful statement that hate has no place in America. It brings existing Federal hate crimes law into the 21st century by broadening it to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation and disability."

Spread the word! Hate has no place in America, and crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, and disability do indeed count as hate crimes. (What? They weren't love crimes? Who knew?) In all seriousness though, this is great news. Now all those haters out there (I'm talking to you, Virginia Foxx) can shove it. (And go to jail for it.)

To further enhance your enjoyment of the passage of this bill, we now present you with this video of Representative Alcee Hastings (D) of Florida, giving Congress a much-needed lesson in sex education (apparently this lesson is much-needed by me as well, since I have no idea what half of the sex definitions he lists even mean):

An expanded definition of hate crimes! Now that's a great way to kick off the weekend.

Enjoy reading this article? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today!

Subscribe to Bitch

Comments

6 comments have been made. Post a comment.

did hey say

"kleptomania"?

It is entirely possible.

Some of the stuff he lists sounds totally crazy. I love it!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Someone please explain the need for hate crime legislation...

I really don't get it...is this the thought police?

We have laws on the books to punish murder, rape, assault, etc. Why should sentencing be different because of the motivation?

If my straight son were murdered, shouldn't his murderer get the same sentence as someone who murders a gay man? Are the value of their lives different?

While I'm sure the intentions behind this bill are genuine by some, you can't punish people for thinking a certain way, believing a certain way or speaking a certain way...that is what individual freedom is about, whether we like it or not. Be careful what you wish for - will your speech/thoughts/feelings be monitored next?

I have yet to see any hate crime legislation have a direct, provable link to reducing crime. I really don't care if perpetrators "hate" their victims, if their victims are random, or whatever the motivation - I want them all to be punished under the strictest guidelines of our laws. This hate crimes legislation sounds purely political rather than something that will actually have an impact on the majority of crime victimes.

No, we shouldn't hate anyone based on gender, race, size, etc. But "hate" can be pretty subjective and it's not the government's job to tell us who we can or can't hate/like/love/disrespect/dismiss/etc. And even if they do, are the people they're targeting likely to take heed and change their thoughts? I doubt it.

My understanding of hate

My understanding of hate crime legislation is that someone who kills a gay man would not get punished more severly than your straight son's hypothetical killer unless the killer of the gay man intentionally sought and pursued a gay man for that reason, i.e. the killer wanted to kill the gay man because he was gay.

I think the "it's not the governemnt's job to tell us who we can or can't hate" argument is quite glib and insensitive to those who have been victimized because of their identities. Hate crimes legislation is intended to protect those who are victimized because they are part of group which has historically been the target of racism and sexism and the violence that is often liked with that hate. Unlike your hypothetical son, many people have real sons who have been killed for no other reason than their sexual preference.
Granted, sometimes legislation is theatre. But, if all this legislation turns out to be is theatre, a public declaration that the United States does not condone crimes motivated by hate, I am (for the moment) givin' it a standin' o.

Valid counter viewpoint, but...

I don't think we need a public declaration that the United States does not condone crimes motivated by hate...I don't condone crimes, period.

And the idea that it's not the govt's job to tell us who we can or can't hate is hardly glib or insensitive - it's called individual freedom. It scares me that we're so willing to go after thoughts, speech and feelings (motivation). And who gets to decided what groups are protected by hate crime legislation? Who gets to decide which thoughts, feelings and voices are "hateful"....it's a pretty subjective word.

And you just admitted that some reasons will garner harsher punishment - seems to place different values on the lives of different victims. If the same murderer killed my straight son in a robbery and then a gay man because he was gay, I don't think the sentence should be different. Hate crime legislative advocates apparently do. I guess that's where the debate therein lies.

People are killed for many stupid reasons. Now we're going to try to have different sets of punishments for different sets of reasons? Pardon my glibness, but that sounds like a legislative nightmare.

Actually, hate crime

Actually, hate crime legislation could hypothetically be used to also punish gay people for killing your hypothetical straight son.

"Compared to white men, Black men are disproportionately arrested for race-based hate crimes. The second-largest category of race-based hate crimes tracked by the FBI is crimes committed against white people. Every year, the FBI reports a number of so-called 'anti-heterosexual' hate crimes—incidents where members of the LGBT community have been prosecuted for supposedly targeting straight people with criminal acts."
http://srlp.org/node/301

Hate crimes do not distinguish between subordinate and dominate groups within a certain category/protected class. Neither do they address or fix the systemic bias currently ingrained into the U.S. criminal justice system.

So although I do agree that there is a need to protect historically oppressed groups who are often targets of violent crime, and that it is great that the government is sending a message that hate that results in violent crimes (not just the thought of hate itself) is not to be tolerated (since it has been in the past), I do not think hate crime legislation is really actually all that helpful. In fact, I think there is a legitimate argument behind stating that it can actually end up harming oppressed groups.