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Bush threatens veto against new hate-crimes bill passed by House.

If you ever get discouraged by the fact Harper and the Conservatives are in power, just remember it could be worse – someone like Bush could be the Prime Minister.

The Democratic-controlled House passed today a new bill called The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would expand federal hate crime categories to include violent attacks against gays and people targeted because of gender..gender identity or disability“. Basically, the bill would give new funding to help state and local law enforcement agencies prevent and prosecute hate crimes, and close gaps in current US federal hate crimes law. Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, Bush is threatening to veto it. Apparently his conservative fundamentalist religious-right base (the remaining 30% or so that still thinks he’s a good president)  has decided that protecting gays from violent attacks means somehow that pastors who preach against homosexuality are going to be arrested:

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, warned that the true intent of the bill was “to muzzle people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality.” If you read the Bible in a certain way, he told his broadcast listeners, “you may be guilty of committing a ‘thought crime.'”

The bill will not do anything of the sort, of course:

“It does not impinge on public speech or writing in any way,” countered Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers , D-Mich., pointing out that the bill reaffirms First Amendment and free speech rights.

Unfortunately, its folks like Dobson and his supporters that gives Christianity a bad name and paints us all who practise Christianity as being narrow-minded and hateful of groups that aren’t “normal” or in our mould. Anyway, I give the Democrats a thumbs up to trying to extend protections to these additional groups, and I look forward to the US becoming a more progressive society when a Democratic President gets elected in 2008 and this Bill can be passed into law in 2009.

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6 comments to Bush threatens veto against new hate-crimes bill passed by House.

  • Tim

    Once again, this is an excellent example of what happens when religion and politics are mixed. Apparently, the dumbass President is trying to force his morality onto the rest of the nation again.

  • Legislating for specific entity lessens the effect of equality in law. We are having trouble enforcing law now.
    A crime is a crime whithout bringing special interest groups to evolve law into controling religious beliefs. Seperation of Church and state has been twisted to protect the Government from religion not people from state forced beliefs. Come with that twist of special interest looses our control of Government. Hello what did this do with government subsidies.

  • I too think it is ridiculous he is vetoing it, that being said on the bright side his pandering to the hard right might just put the nail in the coffin for the Republicans winning the presidency in 2008. Even though Bush couldn’t be re-elected, I still think McCain or Guiliani could win an election in the United States, so the more he alienates moderates, one of two things will happen. Either the Republicans will become so unpopular they cannot win no matter who they choose or the party will be forced to be more centrist if they want to win (which I don’t know how that it is possible since most of the Rockefeller Republicans from the Northeast have left the party).

  • Troy

    I thought I’d try to rebut the first comment by Adrian, but then remembered a post from Orcinus that has already done a great job countering such an argument.

  • knb

    Well, indeed it could be worse, except that we have McVety here who has the ear of the PM and so, I don’t actually think things are so different. Harper of course won’t proceed on his agenda, it’s not expedient at the moment…given a chance, watch him. That’s not scary Harper incidentally. That’s just Harper.

    Adrian, in essence what you say is true, but you exclude bigotry, as a crime on it’s own. Obviously, it’s complex, but right now is the time to define that very thing.

    IMO, too many now believe that “free speech” is a license to defame, demean and diminish others. It is not. The clearer that becomes, the better for all.

    Bush has little to lose now though. Too late to appease the base now, but I guess it’s that going out on a streak of glory thing that may appeal. Ughhh!

  • Adrian MacNair

    I don’t agree with hate crime legislation. Crime is crime, it matters not the rationale of intent except in deliberating the cause and effect. “Hate” crime is an oxymoron, as all crimes are a matter of hatred. Whether a pakistani man is attacked and told to “go back to Asia”, or whether an old woman is robbed of her purse, I see no difference whatsoever in terms of criminal intent. The fact the attack on the Pakistani was motivated from bigotry should be irrelevant to the proceedings as it asserts that some crimes are “more equal” than others.

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