Somehow, a forum on economics by the Forum on Missouri Economic Prosperity turned to the subject of hate crimes when Missouri State Rep, Paul Curtman, a Tea Party Republican, told the group that hate crimes were no different from any other crime. He also feels that President Obama is a “totalitarian” who wants Congress to require gun permits.
From Raw Story:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” Curtman said, quoting the Declaration of Independence. “Let’s start right there: All men are created equal. The first thing you need is equality under the law to apply to the economic sector of society just as it would to any thing else.”
“You know, we don’t want to have hate crimes, because then you’re supposing that a crime is much worse if it is committed against a white person or a black person as opposed to an Asian or Hispanic person,” he continued. “There is not really such a thing as a hate crime. Crime is crime. Equality under the law.”
Then he spoke about firearms:
“The Second Amendment says it is the right of the people to keep and bear arms. If it is my right, why in the world does Barack Obama or any number of totalitarian figures in the U.S. Congress think that we have to ask their permission to carry a gun, when it is my right to carry it?” he said to loud applause.
Here’s the video:
Imagine this unthinkable scenario: A gunman is targeting several members of a Christian church. Parents begin to fear sending their children to Sunday services. Eventually, people become afraid to leave their homes. At the supermarket, parishioners are reticent to even mention that they are part of the church, a place that is a second home to many. Eventually, the gunman is caught, but not before thoroughly tyrannizing an entire community. One woman, after convincing herself that she could not live her life in hiding or in fear any longer, committed suicide.
In this scenario, should the gunman be charged just with the murders he committed or should he be held accountable for the church-wide trauma? Should he be held accountable for the woman who took her own life?
Thankfully and to the best of my knowledge, this specific event hasn’t happened, but events like this are happening to different communities across the country. Whether it’s a particular religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, people are being forced to live in terror by individuals and groups of individuals who kill based on nothing more than hatred, not for a specific person, but for entire groups of mostly strangers. This, in a nutshell, is hate crime.
Those on the right who are quick to demand that ‘terrorists’ are stripped of all rights, tortured and worse, feel that Americans who terrorize Americans are nothing more than run-of-the-mill murderers. According to them, there should be no penalty for terrorizing groups of people. There should be no penalty for the lives they’ve ruined.
Are hate crime laws racially biased? Not according to FBI statistics. In fact, year after year, more African-Americans (as percentage of population) are convicted of hate crimes than are Caucasians.
Law enforcement officials feel that hate crime laws are important. From the Anti-Defamation League:
FEW INDIVIDUAL CRIMES can spark riots, but bias-motivated crimes can. Civic leaders and police officials have come to recognize that strong enforcement of these laws can have a deterrent impact and can limit the potential for a hate crime incident to explode into a cycle of violence and widespread community disturbances.*
Terrorizing communities, whether they be church communities or the LGBT community can have wide-spread ramifications which extend far beyond just the inner circle.
So, why is the “law and order party” so against hate crimes legislation? As mentioned earlier, many are under the false impression that hate crimes unfairly target the majority or that emotions are being legislated. Many feel that most crimes involve hate. Some feel that it is a violation of First Amendment rights.
Of course, none of that is true. Many crimes do involve hate, but not of a particular ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Hate crimes are very specific and they are targeted against groups of people, not against individuals. They are not a violation of the First Amendment since the laws only apply to people who have actually committed crimes.
You still believe that crimes that target groups of people are no different from other crimes? Consider this:
For three horrifying weeks in 2002, drivers in the Washington, DC area lived with the fear that their next commute could be their last. One man and one 17-year-old boy, John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, killed at least 10 people in what would later be called the Beltway Sniper Attacks. Perched on highway overpasses, the two shooters targeted everyone and no one. Muhammed was charged not only with murder, but with terrorism. In fact, the Virginia Supreme Court agreed he should be put to death because his act was so much worse than simple murder. It terrorized a community. The DC Snipers’ acts might not have been bias crimes, but the intent was identical. It was right that they should be treated as more than just garden-variety murderers because they were so much more.
Like most Republicans, Rep. Curtman calls himself pro-life and like most Republicans, Curtman refuses to take the steps required to help ensure that the living are not subjected to violent crime simply for the way they look, the way they love or the way they worship. He also refuses to take the steps necessary to ensure that guns don’t end up in the hands of would be hate criminals or even of the next Beltway Sniper.
In fact, while no one is accusing Curtman of committing hate crime, he isn’t exactly preventing it with his irrational fears of Sharia Law. In both 2011 and in 2012, he sponsored legislation that would ban Sharia Law from Missouri. Apparently, it’s everywhere, except that it’s not. From PoliticMO:
“The Supreme Court is already using international law and foreign laws to help render some of their decisions and some of the concerns from the citizenry in Missouri and other states is just that this is going to continue to trickle down into our state courts,” he said.
But specifically in Missouri? Curtman said, “I don’t have the specifics with me right now but if you go to — the web address kind of escapes my mind right now. Any Google search on international law used in the state courts in the U.S. is going to turn up some cases for you.”
Later Tuesday afternoon, Tilley sent out a statement citing a single case in New Jersey. There, a Muslim man apparently sexually assaulted his wife. The judge did not cite Sharia law, instead citing first amendment religious concerns in his ruling, which was overturned by a higher court.
And now I understand why people like Curtman are against hate crimes legislation. When a person lives in constant fear – fear of Muslims, fear of the Black Man in the Presidency, fear of guns being confiscated and you name it – their own brand of misery wants as much company as possible.
|Wendy Gittleson is a seasoned writer, a dog lover and an avid political junkie. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. In her rare down times, you’ll find her somewhere in the mountains or near the beach. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|