Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is back on the docket in the U.S. House of Representatives, with language expanding the definition of hate crimes to protect the GLBT community. The Human Rights Campaign and the American “Family” Association both distributed emails this week urging people to contact their representatives about the bill. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the copy points in each side’s emails, in their own, unedited words. I’ve added my comments and clarifications in brackets, and I’ve highlighted the language that is sensationalistic, misleading or simply not true.

HRC: What’s at stake
This week the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will be re-introduced in the House of Representatives. This crucial legislation seeks to give local law enforcement agencies extra tools and resources they need to prevent and combat hate violence.

AFA: What’s at stake
A new “hate crimes” bill further protecting homosexual activity [“homosexual activity” is irrelevant here; the proposed protections are against violent crimes] has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would increase protection for the kind of activity [there's that word again] shown on [a link to a YouTube video—since made private by its owner]. The video was shot during an actual homosexual pride parade in Dallas. [Donald E. Wildmon, founder and chairman
 of the American “Family” Association, seems to be implying here that people engaging in the “homosexual activity” of marching in a parade should not be protected from physical violence.]

HRC: Why we should combat hate crimes
We’ve waited too long for comprehensive hate crimes legislation. It has been almost a decade since Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked and killed in Laramie, Wyoming for being gay.

Just weeks ago, Andrew Athos, a 72-year old Detroit resident, was riding home on a city bus when another male passenger asked him if he was gay. The man subsequently followed Andrew to his apartment, attacked him and beat him with a pipe so severely that his injuries left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak above a whisper. Anthony ultimately passed away on February 25 as the result of this attack.

In New York City, a few months before Anthos’s murder, 29-year old Michael Sandy was also killed in an antigay assault where he was beaten, chased into traffic on a busy highway, hit by a car, and then dragged off the road and attacked a second time by his assailants.

AFA: Why we should not combat hate crimes
[The] video shows activity [again with the activity!] that would receive even more protection under new “hate crimes” law. The bill is the first step toward silencing any opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. If you protest the kind of public activity shown on this video, the proposed federal “hate crimes” law may be the first step toward limiting your freedom to speak out against open homosexual activity.

HRC: Emotional hook
Despite the progress that our community has made in combating anti-gay bigotry and discrimination, today one in six reported hate crimes are motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation. It’s even more startling to realize that today’s federal laws don’t include any protections for people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

AFA: Emotional hook
Warning! The video is highly offensive, but it is real footage from the actual parade. [While “offensive” is relative, the video shows standard stuff you’d see in any pride parade in any city.]

HRC: How it affects you
After more than a decade of having updated hate crimes legislation derailed by the anti-gay leaders in Congress, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to put in place this and other key federal protections and rights for our community. Let’s work together to make this happen.

AFA: How it affects you
If this “hate crimes” bill is passed, and you publicly protest, complain or oppose the type of activity [activity!] in this video, your action could be eventually construed to be subject to prosecution for a criminal act. [The proposed legislation includes no restriction on protesting or complaining. If “opposing” involves physical violence, though, then prosecution would ensue. Donald E. Wildmon seems to be implying here that he opposes restrictions against physically violent opposition to pride parades.]

No comments: