Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oppose "Hate Crimes" Bill As An Attack On Free Speech

In several past posts, I have argued that free speech is under attack. Politically, it is being attacked from several angles. The "campaign finance laws" are being used to criminalize political speech which I analyzed here. "Indecency" laws are a weapon being used by the thought police which I wrote about here. Perhaps, the most insidious front on the war against free speech is the so called "hate speech" movement. For example, here I wrote about a case in Canada where a magazine was being prosecuted under "hate speech" codes for criticizing Islam.

Now, according to http://www.congress.org/:

By a vote 249-175, the House last week passed H.R. 1913, a bill making it easier for law enforcement authorities to prosecute hate crimes.

Civil rights groups and liberal clergy members from all 50 states are fanning out across Capitol Hill this week to lobby for the legislation in an attempt to counter the notion, advanced by socially Clergy Lobbies for Passage of Hate Crimes Bill conservative groups, that religious leaders are uniformly opposed to the measure.

Although a majority of Senators are almost certainly in favor of the legislation, the question is whether supporters can win the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster that conservatives may launch to kill the bill. President Barack Obama has said he will sign the measure into law if it lands on his desk.Should Congress pass the hate crimes bill?
You still have a chance to make your voice heard. Go to http://www.congress.org/ and write your representatives opposing this bill.

For more intellectual ammunition, here is another excellent op-ed by Robert Tracinski. He writes:

Under such a system, anything goes. The entire criminal justice apparatus can be used as a political tool by whatever faction happens to be in power. Crimes can be whitewashed if done for the "correct" political motives, while extra punishment can be meted out to those with "incorrect" motives.

Where will this end? If a man convicted of an actual criminal act can be sentenced to additional years in prison simply for his ideas--then, in logic, why can't someone be punished solely for his ideas? Even if he has not committed a single action against another person, why can't he be tried simply for being a "purveyor of hate"? Indeed, this development is already foreshadowed by campus "speech codes," which bar statements deemed "offensive" to protected groups.

The first official step on this deadly path--the creation of a special category of "hate crimes"--should be resoundingly rejected. It is an attempt to import into America's legal system a class of crimes formerly reserved only to dictatorships: political crimes. Instead, we should insist on the one principle that forms the foundation for the protection of all rights, i.e., that the purpose of law is to punish criminals for initiating force against others--not for holding bad ideas.

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