Friday, January 19, 2007

Exodus Has it Wrong About Hate Crimes

Exodus has it wrong about hate crime laws, and unfortunately, I think they have it wrong intentionally. Check out this clip from Alan Chambers, Exodus' President, from a press release they recently issued:

Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, said, “Today, we celebrate a sacred right to freely practice our individual religious beliefs, and at the same time, Congress is debating legislation that could eventually destroy these freedoms. Hate crimes legislation does not prosecute illegal actions that harm others, it prosecutes beliefs about homosexuality that for many Americans, is consistent with their faith.”
Sadly, Alan Chambers is playing a little too loose with the truth with this one. Is it just me or did he just imply that "freely [practicing] individual religious beliefs" and "beliefs about homosexuality consistent with their faith" includes beating someone senseless because they are gay?

You see, hate crimes laws don't do anything to beliefs or thoughts or even practicing religion, and Chambers knows this. The problem with Chambers' argument is that hate crimes laws do nothing if your thoughts don't lead to violence. Don't hit someone, vandalize something, or kill someone, and you can think anything you want. Saying that "hate crimes legislation does not prosecute illegal actions that harm others" is patently false, period.

That's what the First Amendment is all about. It has nothing to do with protecting your right to go on a gay bashing rampage and for Alan Chambers or anyone else to imply that it does is absurd. I can't even understand why he would fight for the rights of violent criminals (because that's who these hate crimes laws apply to) at the expense of the victims and/or communities.

And, just for the record (because I know it will come up), we prosecute people more harshly based on the motives/thoughts/reasons behind their crimes all of the time already, so for people to say that hate crimes laws give special status to certain groups of people is nothing more than a smoke screen.

Check out Box Turtle Bulletin for even more holes in the Exodus argument.


At 19/1/07 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sadly people are trying to use the hatecrimes legislation to get rid of free speech. There are cases in switzerland where pastors have been arrested for saying homosexuality is sin. No violence. Just words. And I do believe there are liberals in this country who would like to see the conservative point of view silenced. On my "blogs i read" section is a link to a blog titled "Tongue Tied" and is all about infringements around the west on freedom of speech. Its kinda scary. And from what I know of Alan, I believe that is where he is coming from. He of course does not want gays (or anyone else) hurt through a hatecrime.

At 20/1/07 2:46 PM, Blogger Brady said...

Pomo- Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin addresses the examples of other countries pretty well in his take. The problem with that argument is that these other countries don't have nearly the free speech protections that we enjoy in our country. If it's not an example of free speech restriction in this country, it's like comparing apples to oranges.

As for Alan, I agree he does not want anyone hurt through a hate crime. The problem I have is that he seems comfortable obfuscating an issue at the expense of the victims. And implying that a hate crime is part of religious beliefs is too far for me.


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