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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Hate crime and what it means

The NAACP has once again tried to build a bridge and once again been refused by Bush. This is a big enough deal that my sister mentioned it when she visited today, and that was the only politics mentioned. Pandagon has a funny post about it.
The truth of the matter is that Bush is just being Bush, and pouting because he says the NAACP said mean things about him a few years ago. This is true. They were big, fat meanies. Like meanies, they told the truth. Like meanies, they refused to sugarcoat the truth. Everyone else obeys the rules. They know to buy his bold-faced lies. They know to sugarcoat it when the truth comes out. But not the NAACP. So, he's pouting like the big boy he is.
What did the NAACP tell the truth about? Well, they told the truth about hate crime. Specifically, that Bush was against making laws against hate crime. And that being against laws against hate crime is a racist stance. Sorry, but it is.
The arguments against hate crime legislation are based in a falsehood. It's argued that hate crime legislation values one victim over another, that it codifies the idea that a black person's life is somehow worth more than a white person's. Not at all. Regardless of hate crimes legislation, murder and assault against any person is a crime.
What hate crime legislation does, or should do at least, is make it also a crime to commit a crime against an individual in an attempt to intimidate an entire group or community of people. So, while killing a black man over ordinary murder-type stuff is a regular murder, killing a black man in order to remind the entire black population of a community that their lot in life is that of random, racist violence is another crime entirely. In the second case, you have committed murder, which is a crime. You have also threatened violence against an entire community, which is also a crime. In Texas, you cannot be put to death for murder alone. It must be in the commission of another crime. Hate crime legislation creates that other crime. You are guilty of murder and threatening an entire community. Murder plus a felony means the death penalty in this state.
If you insist that there shouldn't be laws against threatening entire communities according to their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation, you are prejudiced. Period. I have argued the hell out of this with many people and they avoid or misrepresent the basic question--should there be a law against threatening communities with violence? They never say no, they can't. Because they know that's racist/sexist/homophobic, whatever. So they avoid it.
Women live under the threat of hate crime every single day everywhere on the planet. Everywhere we go, no matter what we do, we are under threat of rape and violence. How do we know this? Because every day there is a woman out there getting attacked simply for being a woman. Message signed, sealed, and delivered. Our womanness makes us hated--we can be raped. Rape is a hate crime, since it tells all women everywhere that they are under special threat for being women.
I am sure that all but the most die-hard Republicans will accept the dynamics of lynching. Black men and women were strung up everyday on trumped-up charges that sound like utter nonsense to us today. Whatever the excuse, the message was clear--being black puts you under threat. The crime is against the person who died, but also against an entire community of people who are left to wonder who is next.
Gay-bashing is such a specifically oriented crime that it has its own name. Again, what is the purpose of gay-bashing? The gay person who is bashed is a victim, but so is every homosexual in the area. Message sent--you're next.
The day that there are roaming groups looking for straight white guys to beat up or kill to send a message, I'm sure that hate crimes will take on a whole new meaning to guys like the Shrub. Until then, we have to face the obvious. If you think that vigilante groups should be allowed to control the movement of women, racial minorities and homosexuals via threats of violence that are only an issue if they actually act on them, what can we guess about your beliefs? Again, if a group of gays and blacks and women was put together to restrict the movement of straight white men through threats, how would that be dealt with, legally?
The NAACP is doing Bush a huge favor he doesn't deserve at all. Racism is racism, no matter how you dress it up. He should be licking their boots for this. That he thinks that the NAACP is nothing should be just one more clue to what the real racist feelings of the Shrub are.


Blogger Earnest said...

I'm a black person, and I've always found Hate Crimes to be poor legislation. The intent behind murder is always to kill someone, regardless of the victim's background. When someone is determined to make a point through their violence, they are exceedingly vicious. The degree of viciousness in the attack is taken into consideration by those doing the sentencing, whether the viciousness is in quantity or quality. I feel like every crime processed as a hate crime is a slap in the face of every victim of the same crime prosecuted without the hate crime provisions.


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