Updated October 30, 2005








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By James P. Tucker Jr.

An attempt to slip “hate crimes” legislation (S. 1145) into the Children’s Safety Act was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a victory for grass-roots America and First Amendment advocates. But Rev. Ted Pike, who spearheaded public opposition to the bill, cautions that the peril remains.

There are several “hate crimes” bills lurking in Congress and they are typically added to “must pass” legislation, such as major spending bills, as amendments.

Some have been dangerously close to becoming law as congressmen unwittingly voted on legislation, buried in foot-thick bills, without realizing the contents.

The latest victory shows that voters can educate congressmen. Three years ago, Sen. Orrin Hatch (RUtah) joined with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in supporting hate crimes legislation.

However, after hearing from vociferous voters, Hatch joined in rejecting the latest effort to slip hate crimes legislation through Congress.

All such hate bills have two fatal flaws: they do violence to the Constitution and expand the role of the federal government down to your street and neighborhood. But these problems cannot be explained in a TV “sound bite” to nonreading Americans. This makes it hard for congressmen not to “vote against hate,” so it is critical that thoughtful Americans educate lawmakers.

The hate crimes legislation would have to be enforced by “thought police” who look into a criminal’s mind to determine if “hate” was part of the motivation. Critical evidence in such cases is whether the attacker uttered words offensive to certain handpicked groups—blacks and Hispanics, homosexuals and the handicapped.

Under the First Amendment, Americans can say awful, wrong, offensive words but their free speech is protected. It is, many lawmakers point out, a precious right that should not be compromised.

All states and localities enforce laws protecting individuals against violent crimes and they typically punish more severely than under federal laws. For example, two of the three white Texas men who dragged a black man to his death with a pickup truck are on death row (the third, who claimed he tried to stop the attack until he, too, was threatened, is serving life). The two are afraid to die and would have preferred that Texas yield to the federal government because the “hate crime” law has no death penalty.

Hate crime laws extend the heavy hand of Washington into states and localities by federalizing local crimes. A fist fight in your neighborhood can become a federal case. With such legislation now pending on virtually a year round basis, it is important to keep educating lawmakers, Pike said.

He does so on talk-radio and in appeals to Christian ministers. Readers of American Free Press called, wrote and emailed their two senators and their House member. It was a formula for victory, all agreed, but the fight must go on.

(Issue #45, November 7, 2005)

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