Hate CrimesCHARLES COLSON
Never judge a book by its cover, so goes the old expression.
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Not if you read what's between the covers: The title of this bill ought to be the "Thought Control Act of 2007."
I told "BreakPoint" listeners and readers about the bill when it was pending before the House. Unfortunately, that bill passed the House and now faces Senate ratification—this time, in typical Washington fashion, as an amendment tacked on to the National Defense Authorization Act.
The law is just as dangerous now as it was then.
This bill would give the federal government jurisdiction over local criminal offenses believed to be "motivated by prejudice." Not just any prejudice, mind you, but prejudice based on "race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim."
Watch those phrases sexual orientation and gender identity, because they tell you which groups are pushing hardest for this bill. The committee rejected amendments that would include other groups, like veterans, the homeless, and senior citizens.
That still leaves us with "why?" Do crimes against homosexuals go unpunished? Are people free to attack gays with impunity?
Of course not. There are already laws against assaults on people and property. Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals—far less than 1 percent.
For the bill's supporters, it is not enough to walk down the street in complete safety. Nor is it enough to be able to work and live wherever you please. Like the state song of Kansas, they want a place where "seldom is heard a discouraging word" about homosexuality.
See, the bill is not about crime prevention or even civil rights. It's about outlawing peaceful speech—speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong. That's why the House judiciary committee rejected an amendment stipulating that nothing in this law would limit the religious freedom of any person or group under the Constitution.
We've seen where laws like this can lead: Hate crimes have been defined to include verbal attacks—and even peaceful speech. The Thought Police have already prosecuted Christians under hate-crime laws in England, Sweden, and Canada. And in Pennsylvania, 11 Christians were prosecuted under the state's hate crime law for preaching on a street corner against homosexuality.
Chuck Colson, God and Government (Zondervan, 2007).
BreakPoint Commentary No. 070501, “The Thought Police: What the Hate Crimes Law Would Do.”
Abigail Ruth, “Ted Kennedy Sneaks ‘Hate’ Crimes Amendment Into Defense Reauthorization Bill,” Culture Campaign blog, 13 July 2007.
“Hate Crimes Amendment Sneaks Into Senate Defense Reauthorization Bill,” Liberty Counsel press release, 12 July 2007.
“The Kennedy ‘Hate Crimes’ Bill: An Unwise Proposal,” Republican Policy Committee, 15 July 2003.
Harry R. Jackson, Jr., “Freedom Held Hostage,” Townhall.com, 16 July 2007.
What supporters of the Kennedy amendment say: “Letter to Senate Urging Affirmative Vote for Kennedy-Smith Hate Crimes Prevention Amendment,” ACLU, 13 July 2007.
“TVC Calls Upon Justice Department To Investigate Homosexual Civil Rights Attorney’s Involvement In Persecuting Christians,” Traditional Values Coalition, 13 January 2005.
Charles Colson. "Hate Crimes." BreakPoint Commentary July 17, 2007.
From BreakPoint ® (17/07/2007), Copyright 2000, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-0500. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint ®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries ®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.
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