Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pedophile Bill Passes

This is one of those rare moments where my heart sinks for our country. At 4:55pm (ET) yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 1913 - Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Bill. The bill sounds fine on its face. After all, who's not for preventing hate? But in this case, I am.
Although promoted as protection for victims of violent crimes, this bill is a long-awaited fulfillment of the Matthew Shepard campaign to criminalize homosexual criticism. As soon as the president's new website posted, this goal was there. Change was promised and congress was primed to deliver.

As a warning, the following scenario is a disturbing example of the logical extension this bill presents. It's terribly unfortunate the severity of what happened can't be expressed more gently, but the truth must be told. I only use this illustration to demonstrate the obscene legislation supported by a majority of our representatives and it brings me no pleasure to put it so bluntly.
Imagine walking into your house after dinner with your wife to find your 22-year old babysitter, whom you trusted, sexually violating your four year-old daughter. The U.S. House of Representatives decided today to place a higher value on the protection of that monster than on your child. If you were to physically harm the offender, you would be punished more than if you took out your anger on your own victimized child.

Violence committed against any person or property because of one's sexual behavior is subject to an additional 10 years in federal prison according to the bill. That's 10 years more than if the victim's sexuality was irrelevant. That's right, the sexual view of the victim is the focus here. The same rule applies to a weirdo in your city who installs hidden cameras in your local school locker room, a homeless man exposing his erect penis to women jogging in the nearby park, a funeral worker having sex with your deceased grandmother, a pet groomer sodomizing the family dog, or your married neighbor having an affair with his 18-year old step-daughter. These are those whom our government representatives have decided to pass a special bill for. And they decided to protect them more than you! The AFA compiled a list of the newly protected sexual orientations under this bill.

It's true H.R. 1913 only applies to crimes of violence. Obviously we don't condone violence against anyone. We also acknowledge that people have been victims of terrible violence because of their sexuality including despicable acts commited by people claiming to be Christian. But the reason we are shocked by those violent acts is not the offense against a victim's sexuality, but because it is an attack on a priceless human person. When the government deems some people worthy of more protection than others based on sexual identity or gender identification, equality is eroded. While there are lots of problems with legislation of hate crimes, below are five troubling facts about this bill in addition to the appalling scenarios described above.

1- Reducing Human Value

The government just isn't as concerned about you being attacked as they would be if your attacker disagrees with your sexual habits. This is an outright rejection of inert human value and replaces it with subjective value of our sexual desires based on the whims of whoever is in congress. Our government has seriously strayed from the founders' intent of "created equal" by replacing it with the value of "minority behaviors are preferred." The supporters of Hate Crimes legislation are not satisfied by protecting all people equally. For them, the real crime is not attacking a human person, but attacking one's sexual identity. This is wrong. All humans have intrinsic worth and deserve equal protection under the law regardless of their behavior or sexual desires.

2-Rejecting change

There were several attempts by members of congress to propose amendments to the bill. Knowing that the Democrat majority in the House virtually assured the bill's passage, conservative representatives only attempted modifications to an absurd bill they knew they couldn't defeat outright. Examples of changes suggested were adding veterans and immigrants to the list of protected classes. Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King was the most vocal proponent of a pedophile exemption so the bill would not protect those whose sexual orientation included children. You'd think that would have been a reasonable request.

Rep. King presented this "pedophile exclusion" amendment to the Judiciary rules committee on Tuesday. This committee is the gateway for all proposals to make it to the House floor for a vote among all representatives. Here is a 7 minute clip showing his presentation to them.

Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Tammy Baldwin (from my hometown Madison) responded in opposition tp the King amendment by claiming that a pedophile exclusion was an unnecessary narrowing of the term "sexual orientation." She said the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 already defined it as "consensual heterosexuality or homosexuality" so that probably excludes children.

But calling "consensual sex" a definition is a stretch. The only thing we can exclude from "consensual" sex is rape. But rape oviously is illegal already. Despite this, she conceded that the definition is found nowhere else in federal law. She also objected to King's amendment as having "inflammatory implications" although failed to expand on that complaint.

Rep. Baldwin referenced the following portion of the HCSA which is now Title 28 U.S.C. Section 534:
"As used in this section, the term ‘sexual orientation’ means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality."
After the vote, Texas Republican Rep. Gohmert (a former appellate judge) warned the committee in this video clip that Baldwin's claim about "sexual orientation" being defined in one other 1990 bill is insufficient. He said when legislators intentionally refuse to specify a definition, judges don't examine other legislation but look at the face of the bill. Accordingly, the practicality of this bill will protect pedophiles and will be upheld as such on appeal since no other specific definition was offered.

The chairman Rep. Conyers (who is the original co-sponsor of this bill) ignored pleas for other amendment supporters to be heard. His apology afterwards was odd considering he clearly heard the objection but continued with the vote anyway. He added that even if he had allowed them to speak, it was irrelevant because the amendment passed anyway. After a vote count, it was later learned he was wrong and King's amendment excluding pedophiles from federal protection failed.

3-Policing Thought

George Orwell's fictional account depicted in his 1984 novel has arrived - at least in the House chamber. It's impossible to enforce crimes based on the content of one's conscience alone. The only way to even know what's on someone's mind is by a truthful admission. A free society where the expression of ideas is supposed to be encouraged can't operate with thought crime restrictions. Prior to the vote yesterday, King gave a nine minute speech critiquing the bizarre way this bill would criminalize thoughts. Never before, said King, has federal law included suspect thoughts instead of overt acts.

Most hate crimes supporters ignored these arguments, but Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) took the challenge. He attacked the "thought crimes" complaint by identifying special protections already in place such as members of congress. Where Rep. Frank is confused is that attacking members of congress is punished more severely not because we value them more, but because a position of public office is valued in itself for the stability of our nation. In the same way, the hate crimes bill places a special value on sexual orientation itself.

Additionally, a congressman is identifiable outwardly whereas sexual orientation is invisible. The difference between covert thought and overt action should be obvious. Thomas Jefferson would agree. In his series of letters to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, he clearly explains that, under the first amendment, opinions would never be subject to criminal law.

4-Silencing Dissent

Rep. Gohmert warns that anyone publicly speaking against "sexual orientation" is prosecutable under 18 USC 2(a) and can be charged as a "principal:"

The section as revised makes clear the legislative intent to punish as a principal not only one who directly commits an offense and one who “aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures” another to commit an offense, but also anyone who causes the doing of an act which if done by him directly would render him guilty of an offense against the United States. It removes all doubt that one who puts in motion or assists in the illegal enterprise but causes the commission of an indispensable element of the offense by an innocent agent or instrumentality, is guilty as a principal even though he intentionally refrained from the direct act constituting the completed offense.

In other words, if a pastor teaches the traditional interpretation of verses like Genesis 19, Leviticus 20, Judges 18, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Tim 1, 2 Peter 2, or Jude 7 and someone who heard him goes out and beats up someone who's sexual behavior falls into a protected class, that pastor can be arrested and charged with a federal felony. You may think this is an exaggeration, but it's not at all. Pastor Ake Green was arrested as a result of similar legislation in Sweden. Other free nations like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia are experiencing similar incidents as well.

5-Restricting Civil Rights
"But the protection is just for violent crimes!" Really? Why would a federal protection only apply to a victim of a violent crime while leaving them out to dry all other times? If a class of people are federally protected, why would they be allowed to be discriminated against in any other aspect of society? Can they be refused things like employment, insurance benefits, or restroom facilities because of their sexual orientation? How can this be? It seems that either the government deems a group federally protected or not. If they are protected from violent crimes, they should be protected from all kinds of discriminatory practices. This poses an obvious problem. If legislators insist the term "sexual orientation" be left open-ended, and pedophilia, necrophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, incest, and bestiality are protected behaviors, how can we continue to arrest people for doing what comes naturally from their federally protected sexual orientation?

The real problem is that those who are supporting homosexual advocacy groups have little ground to stand on in disagreement with other brands of sexual preference. In fact, the very same arguments posed by gay-rights groups in the 70's to lobby groups like the APA (American Psychiatric Association) to remove homosexuality from their list of mental disorders, are now being used by groups like NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) to normalize pedophilia. Gay advocates realize the logical trail here. If the government assigns special privilege to homosexuality, no objective reason exists to deny protections to other kinds of sexual behavior. For those logicians out there, this isn't a slippery slope fallacy which reasons that if we allow X then Y will certainly follow (even if it need not). The above argument takes a different direction: it argues that if we allow justification J for X, we will have no grounds for objecting to the justification J for Y. There simply is no reason to stop with consensual adult homosexuality. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) conceeded this by boldly urging federal protection for 547 sexual paraphilias published by the APA in this 44 second speech.

On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Kennedy introduced a senate version (S.909) which, if passes, will be sent to a president who campaigned on tougher hate crime laws (see the White House agenda here). Let's pray that Senate leaders are more willing to hear all sides of the argument before voting. Unfortunately, Obama wants "swift" action reminiscent of the 1,100 page bailout bill that passed before anyone could read it. Here's how Obama puts it himself: "This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance – legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association. I also urge the Senate to work with my Administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action."

Opponents to the bill hope to gain enough support for a filibuster despite this week's defection of Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic caucus. Keep an eye on this bill and be sure to write a quick note to your Senators and President to make your voice heard. Obama pays very close attention to public opinion so large amounts of attention on this issue is our best way to make an impact. AFA, FRC, and Citizen Link are active in combating pro-family causes like this and their websites are excellent ways to keep current as it's not covered much by the main stream media. Here's a petition that's pretty simple to sign on to.

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