Sunday, February 7, 2010

Theocons Sue for Right to Advocate Hate Crimes

Seldom have I seen a lawsuit where the actual intent was so despicably transparent.

RobertsonHate A Christian group in Michigan has filed a lawsuit alleging that a package of hate crimes laws named after murder victim Matthew Shepard is an affront to their religious freedom.

Far from the intended purpose of severely punishing criminals who commit unspeakable acts against a persecuted minority group, the religious activists claim the laws are a guarded effort to "eradicate" their beliefs.

Filed by the Thomas More Law Center [theocon delinked]-- which bills itself as the religious answer to the American Civil Liberties Union -- the complaint claims that protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people "is an effort to eradicate religious beliefs opposing the homosexual agenda from the marketplace of ideas by demonizing, vilifying, and criminalizing such beliefs as a matter of federal law and policy."

The suit was placed on behalf of American Family Association of Michigan [theocon delinked] president Gary Glenn, along with pastors Rene Ouellette, Levon Yuille and James Combs.

 Hypocrite Claiming "there is no need" to extend hate crimes definitions, Thomas More chief counsel Richard Thompson attempted to minimize the impact of violent crimes against homosexuals.

"Of the 1.38 million violent crimes reported in the U.S. by the FBI in 2008, only 243 were considered as motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation," he wrote on the group's Web site [theocon delinked]. "The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin."

However, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act clearly stipulates that it does not apply to constitutionally protected speech.

(3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

protectmejesus (4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

The Thomas More Law Center's argument is eerily similar to a fundraising letter circulated by the Family Research Council at the end of 2009, in which the conservative group claimed that extending workplace non-discrimination rules is really Obama's secret plot to "impose" homosexuality on America.

However, according to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, "[the non-discrimination rule] exempts all religious organizations, which includes corporations, associations, and religious societies. In addition, all educational institutions are exempt if the educational institution is at least substantially controlled or owned by a religious organization or if the institution's curriculum is directed towards the propagation of a religion."

The Thomas More suit, however, goes even further than just challenging hate crimes protection for LGBT people; it challenges the findings of the Matthew Shepard investigation.

"Thomas More attorneys make the case that the perpetrators of the murder of Matthew Shepard were subject to more several criminal penalties under existing state criminal law than under the new federal Hate Crimes Act," religious news outlet Christian Post notes [theocon delinked]. "They also say there is evidence demonstrating that the senseless and brutal attack on Shepard was not motivated by hate or bias; rather, it was motivated by money and drugs."

Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old gay man from Wyoming who was tied to a fence and beaten to death in 1998. A foundation carrying his name played an important role in helping to broaden hate crimes definitions to cover LGBT people.

The Post's story, which does not point out that the actual law carries protections for constitutional speech, claims that plaintiffs are merely seeking "judicial reassurance" that they can continue to disparage homosexuals "without being investigated or prosecuted by the government."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Raw Story>

The law on this is crystal clear.  Speech in opposition to what these bigots call homosexuality, however misguided, perverse, and obtuse, is Constitutionally protected speech.  Since the judicial reassurance they claim to seek is already written into the law, that claim must be a law.  Were this law to be overturned, the only right they would gain is the right to advocate hate crimes.  Therefore, that is what they are seeking to obtain.

I have to make one more point here, even though I’ve beaten it to death.  Real Christians do not advocate hate crimes.  We advocate acceptance for all people of good will.  The American Taliban represent Supply-side Jesus, a GOP/theocon invention to justify their dogma of fear, hate and greed.  Historical Jesus opposed religious hypocrites, the religious right of His time on earth.  So should we.


Infidel753 said...

Brilliant. Just imagine if the old Afrikaner Nationalist Party in South Africa had thought of declaring apartheid a religious doctrine. They could have demanded that everybody respect it, and perhaps even persuaded people that opposition to apartheid was a form of anti-religious bigotry.

For that matter, one can see the same mentality in the craven, sniveling apologists for Islam, who claim that any criticism of Islam's bestial abuses of women and homosexuals is somehow a form of prejudice or even racism.

We're going to see more and more of this as the would-be theocrats co-opt the language of victimization -- "You are oppressing us by taking away our God-given right to oppress".

the walking man said...

Matthew Shepard

Mathew Sheppard wasn’t gay when they pistol whipped him
breaking his skull from the right ear to his right rear lobe,
and damaging his brain stem

Mathew Sheppard wasn’t gay when they continued to beat him so his face could not be recognized as that of a man and Mathew Sheppard wasn’t gay when they took his shoe laces and crucified him in a position Christ like to a barbed wire fence.

Mathew Sheppard wasn’t gay when a bicyclist stopped and stared at what he thought was a scarecrow, which after eighteen hours of hanging on the fence Mathew Sheppard was, but not a gay scarecrow, just a dying man.

Mathew Sheppard was not gay for the twenty days he lived on life support, never regaining conscious, but a dying kidnapped man, when the machine that was Mathew Sheppard’s life was turned off he was simply another brutally murdered victim.

He only became a gay man when Mathew Sheppard’s murderers used the defense at their trial that he had made at homosexual advance at them and that the “gay fright” caused them to go temporarily insane.

Now the his kidnapping murderers have four consecutive life sentences between them, Mathew Sheppard is simply another brutally murdered man, who was gay,, cremated to ash so his family might keep some part of him close.

© The Walking Man blog

One Fly said...

It is unfortunate TC that your beliefs you and other believers share are overshadowed by the insane dogma type. As usual the media places a pivotal role here.

TOM said...

It should be noted that the two girlfriends of the two murderers, testified that the two murders did plan to attack a gay man, not just any straight guy.
That was their intent, and intent is an important prosecuting and sentencing factor.
It's not the King James version of the Bible, that professes hate for homosexuals, neither did Jesus. So what is the motivation for the position of this so called religious group? Could it be political, or just plain hate?

ivan said...

Not sure about this, horrible as the crime was.
Should any group declare itself a protected species?

The First Amendment is pretty clear on this, though some groups see themselves as having a monopoly on piety and therefore sacrosanct, above the law, and to hell with the First Amendment.
Any crime is a hate crime. With unnecessary parsing Big Brother moves to the top.
My opinion, anyway.

Beekeepers Apprentice said...

Excellent post. That they dare to say that protecting people from being tortured, murdered, so their totally wacked in the head beliefs can be validated...disgusting.

Karen said...

Not surprised that happened here in Michigan... thank goodness I live in one of the 'sane' areas.

TomCat said...

Great point, Infidel. When you put them side by side you see that the religious extremists from Islam and Christianity are very much alike. The behavior of Islamic theocracies is a window to what we can expect, if the GOP/American Taliban establishes a theocracy here.

Beautifully said, Mark.

It does, Fly. Thank you for recognizing the difference.

True, Tom. Their motivation is the same as that of the Pharisees and Sadducees: power and wealth through the imposition of dogma.

Ivan, that not it. It's that no group should be singled out as a target of violence. Congrats on being visitor number 35,000.

That sums it up, Bee.

Thank goodness, indeed, Karen.

tnlib said...

TC: Certainly he was beaten to a pulp but he didn't die from this - although he might never have survived it. The goons left him tied up to die a slow death due to exposure. Sick, sick, sick.

During the funeral some looney group of Christians, led by a nut a "minister" from Kansas, carried signs that said, "The fag is burning in hell now."

My heart bleeds for his parents.

JUDI M. said...

tnlib: I'm sorry, but your comment is a bit convoluted. The man died, as they intended, by the hands of others. This was wrong, I don't care how you frame it! Thou shall not kill, period.

The so -called Christian extremists are becoming scarier and scarier. I don't believe it is my job to judge others (but I unfortunately do). I am not God, but I sincerely believe he's becoming quite disgusted with all of us!

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

I agree with you TC... and I am moved by the comment from Walking Man, ah! but he always gets my attention.
It's an excellent post TC. The point is
Hate is just wrong and it usually stems from ignorance. But you know man... they think most teachers are gay...

TomCat said...

Tnlib, I did not know about the GOP/theocon protest at his funeral. Talk about adding insult to injury!

Judi, Jesus accepted all, except one group. He rejected the right-wing religious hypocrites called Pharisees and Sadducees. Judging them is not my place, I agree. But opposing them, as he did, is.

Gwen, go visit Mark. You never know what's coming. I don't always agree with him. But he is beyond deep and always thought provoking.

Tom Harper said...

I think these "Christian" hate groups are planning one of those astroturf "grass roots" campaigns against this hate crimes law. Supposedly it violates the Tenth Amendment among other things.

That would be Fred Phelps that tnlib is referring to. The mission of his "church" is to picket the funerals of gay murder victims. They also picket the funerals of soldiers killed in action, with the "reasoning" that these soldiers died defending a homosexual nation, or something.

TomCat said...

Ah yes!! Westboro Baptist. The church that best exemplifies the GOP. They come out and say what the rest are thinking.