Sunday, April 29, 2007


The following is a reply to a Christofascist minister who sent out an "emergency appeal" about the pending vote on federal hate crimes legislation. According to this bigot posturing as a martyr, this legislation would ban hate speech so that "Christians would not even be able to read aloud anti homosexual passages from the BIBLE in their Church services. Oh, the poor martyred dears! The following post clearly states that I have read the Act and it only makes ACTS illegal and not thoughts or utterances.
I came across this despicable clerical bigots "emergency appeal" on the discussion of the twin cities 9/11 Meetup group. The Bush administration deliberately inflicted shock and awe on the American people by allowing the planes that Al Quaida hijacked to reach their targets and preplanting explosives in World Trade Center Towers 1, 2, and 7 to produce a controlled demolition. Building don't collapse straight down into their basements unless explosives have been carefully prepositioned.
9/11 has attracted activists from both the right and the left so, in becoming active in this group, I have encountered some people that are hard to take.

I read the federal hate crimes legislation that the Christofascists are alleging to be so terrible. It required some effort to focus on the meaning of the law amid all the interpolations the Christ Crazies interjected but is should be clear that the Act punishes only acts and not thoughts. (I have interjected some of my own justified hate speech here.)
To give an example, the Christofascists, Islamofascists and Judaeofascists have the legal right to think whatever bigoted thoughts they wish about me and other Gay people. But if someone throws a rock through my window, that is an ACT which is punishable by law. If they attach a note to the rock reading "Get out of town, faggot!", that is objective evidence that the INTENT was to express hate against me and other Gay people. There is really nothing subjective about how intent is determined.
This is not the only case in which the law considers intent. The punishment for first degree murder is greater than for second degree murder. It is first degree murder if the murderer cooly and deliberately planned the murder in advance. It is second degree murder if the murderer committed it in a fit of passion or anger. Here the law specifies a greater penalty for a crime not because of the murderer's beliefs or speech but first, for his ACT, and second, his INTENT in commiting that ACT.
Acts of assault, robbery, rape and murder cause other members of the community to fear they will be victims of those crimes also. When these crimes are motivated by hate against members of a particular group -- and as I have explained, there are objective methods of determining whether the crime was motivated by hate for a particular group-- the fear of being similarly victimized is even greater for members of that particular group than it is for members of the general public. For instance, it caused me more anxiety reading about the murders that occur in this city than I would have if I lived in a city or world where these crimes don't occur. We all worry that we could have been in that particular place at that particular time and, more importantly, whether we will someday be at the wrong place and time. But I experienced greater anxiety a few years ago when someone shot another Gay person in Loring Park and later shot and wounded several more Gays down on the Franklin Avernue River Flats.
Another reason for hate crime laws is that public attorneys all have to priortize the crimes they prosecute. Of course, the most serious crimes, i.e. the crimes with higher penalties, will be the ones the public attorney prosecutes first. In the 1980's, I heard an account on public radio about a Black family who was being harassed after they moved in to a white neighborhood. They couldn't get the County Attorney to do anything about it at first. But after a hate crimes law was passed, which enhanced the seriousness of the crimes, the County Attorney prosecuted. Again, the racist punks who were harassing the Black family were subjected to an enhanced penalty not because they had racist thoughts or even expressed these thoughts in speech. Their INTENT was considered only because it was the motivation for their ACTS.
There are many reasons why it is in the interest of the members of a community to punish hate crimes with a greater penalty. First, as I have said, it creates more fear among members of the community that is the object of such hate. But secondly, such hate crimes, if continued long enough, can provoke hate crimes by members of the minority community against members of the majority community. (Of course, these crimes would also be hate crimes and subject to a greater penalty.) In some situations, this can escalate to armed conflict between different communities. Perhaps if the first hate crimes by Sunnis against Shites or Shites against Sunnis in Bagdad had been punished more severely as hate crimes, the citizens of Bagdad would not now be in such great fear of becoming cictims of hate crimes. (Of course that is only a tiny part of a solution in Bagdad. They would have to have their own government instead of one set up by an invading foreign power and that government would have to be a just government.
That said, now I will indulge myself in a little hate speech. You Christofascists and Christ Crazies have spent 1500 years of the last two millennia burning members of my community at the stake. You have the right to hold whatever bigoted and odious beliefs you want about Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Intersexed Persons. But you do not have the right to express your bigotry in acts. I don't see why you can't be born as many times as you like and be as disgusted as you like about our sexual practices but then LEAVE US ALONE! Any person who has not suffered brain damage should be able to easily grasp this distincction. But then, most people manage to escape brain damage the first time they are born but being born twice is pushing your luck too far.
And you Christofascists bleat like the southern racists who claimed their "states rights" were being violated when they were no longer allowed to discriminate through segregation. When a psychologist with anti Gay views was no longer allowed to do employment screening for the Minneapolis Police, you Christ Scum bleated as if you were martyrs when you asked, "Can Christians not be employed in any capacity by the City of Minneapolis?" Yes you can! Our belief in freedom of thought and speech precludes us from keeping your kind out. It is only when you ACT on your bigotry while on the job that makes you subject to dismissal. As an analogy, someone with racists views can work for the city of Minneapolis. But if they called Black people the n word when they came to their department for city services, they would and quite properly would be fired!
The only thing I would add is that our Constitution with its first amendment protects us from being tyrannized by the kind of hate speech laws they have in Canada and Europe. Of course, we should all remain on guard to prevent our courts from making the first amendment as much a non entity as they have made the fifth. But I have read the hate crimes legislation attacked on this meetup and it only punishes ACTS. It enhances the penalty when there is hateful INTENT motivating the commission of the ACT, but again, the law also considers intent when it punishes first degree murder more severely than second degree murder.
Robert Halfhill

PS. The only thing I forgot to deal with was the Christofascist minister's placing great emphasis on his claim that perceived membership in the target group was unspecified, implying that this vagueness allows all sorts of horrible provisions to be slipped through. It is really not hard to understand what perceived group membership, as in Gay or perceived to be Gay means, when you consider a story I read in a book about the Gay world when I was just coming out. A man was waiting at a stop for a streetcar. A group of teenagers pulled up in a car. "Are you queer?" one of the teenagers asked. "Would it make any difference if I were?" the man asked.
That was the last thing he ever said. The teenaged punks beat him to death. He turned out to have been a married heterosexual so he was a victim of murder because he was perceived to be Gay instead of actually being Gay.
This reminds me of another Christofascist minister, Roger Magnuson, who asked during a debate after the Christ Crazies had put an intiative on the ballot in 1978 to repeal St. Paul's Gay Rights Ordinance. "What does manifest mean?" Magnuson kept asking over and over. The Ordinance referred to manifesting traits of group membership but it referered to nothing more sinister than, for example, someone learning you are Gay when they see you going into a Gay bar. By going into the Gay bar, you were manifesting your Gayness but Magnuson kept implying it meant something like commiting sex acts in public or on other people without their consent.


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