Let’s play Jeopardy!
The answer is: Hate is considered a family value here.
The correct question is: What are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Wyoming?
(Cue applause from audience.)
Yes, friends, if you’re a hater, there’s no place greater than these five states which refuse to recognize that one person may kill, assault, or cause other serious harm to another person because the victim is a different race or ethnicity or religion or gender or sexual orientation.
South Carolina, in particular, should know better.
In June, 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black people in a Charleston church, leading the city’s police chief Greg Mullen to say, “In this case, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it is a hate crime.”
Despite repeated efforts by some in the South Carolina state house, proposals to enact hate crime laws have been turned down every year. State Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley, say that because the federal government has hate crime statutes and that since there are state laws against violent offenses, there is no need for state hate crime legislation. State Rep. William Gilliard (D- Dist. 111) counters that with state laws in place, prosecution will be easier and quicker rather than waiting for the federal government to intervene. It also provides for additional charges upon prosecution and additional penalties upon conviction.
Dylann Roof was charged under the federal hate crimes law.
“White supremacy” is definitely at work when hate crime laws are up for legislative consideration says the president of the South Carolina NAACP. Lonnie Randolph Jr. remarked, “This is the first state in America that decided they would go to war with America because of slavery. I don’t know why we would expect anything less than that. This is the state that taught America how to hate.”
The naysayers claim there is absolutely no reason for hate crime legislation at all. They claim it divides people into classes, protecting some at the expense of others. One anti-hate-crime activist expounds further, “Those especially at risk are conservative religious people who may very well find themselves hauled into court unless they keep their mouths shut for being politically incorrect.”
Much of the “logic” for this way of thinking is detailed in a delightful screed from Arkansas in 2007. Read all about it here. Read at your own risk. A vomit bucket is recommended.
State-level hate crime legislation is effective, says Jeannine Bell of the Indiana University School of Law, but not for the reasons many think. While incidents like the Charleston shooting do occur, Bell says, “Hate murders are relatively rare.”
Most hate crimes are low- level crimes that are less likely to be investigated by local and state police, let alone prosecuted. Hate crime legislation adds gravity and urgency to such crimes which can be extremely traumatic to the victim and send shock waves through local communities, Bell said.
This is evident in Arkansas, where hate crime statues are presented and voted down regularly, just as in the other four states lacking such laws. Recently, high school math teacher Brian Bray’s email account was hacked, opening up his Dropbox and other accounts to the hacker. One of the items in the Dropbox was what Bray described as “a video recording of an intimate encounter between myself and another informed, consenting adult male.”
The hacker posted the video to Bray’s faculty page on the website of Maumelle Charter High School in Maumelle, Ark. The hacker also changed the name of the DropBox from “Private” to “FagTeachBray.”
Brian Bray was fired from his position in October. Although his sexual orientation was known at the school, he says he was told “Of course I had to be dismissed at the time because I had lost any kind of authority with my students there.” He was refused severance pay, and it was intimated that he was at fault for the incident. The school also filed an ethics complaint against Bray with the Arkansas Professional Licensure Standards Board, but an investigation determined he was not at fault and had violated no ethical codes.
No murder, no physical assault, but extreme emotional and mental trauma, as well as financial distress occurred. It’s still a hate crime.
Georgia is the only one of the five states in the Hall of Shame that actually did have a hate crimes law on the books until it was thrown out in 2004 by the Georgia Supreme Court because it was “unconstitutionally vague.” The statute did not specifically name biases, such as a victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation, as other states’ laws do.
Since that time every single attempt to pass hate crime laws in the Georgia state house has failed. State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), who sponsored the original bill and who continues his efforts, says hate crime is different from other crime. “It ultimately is designed to intimidate, not just one person, but an entire group,” he said.
Wyoming, too, is still fine with letting the feds deal with those pesky hate crimes, despite the efforts of LGBT activists who continue to fight in the name of Matthew Shepherd who was tortured and murdered there in 1998 because he was gay. First Nations people and proponents have joined the fight since the shooting of two Northern Arapaho men in July. There is little chance of hate crime legislation in Cheyenne this year. Again.
Indiana has now renewed its membership in the Hall of Shame by once again refusing to pass hate crime legislation in this year’s session. In light of the uproar over the state’s 2015 “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” which is referred to by some progressive wags as the “No Cakes for Queers Act,” the failure to make hate crime a state crime in the Hoosier state is especially egregious. It did garner a bit more support this year from Republican lawmakers, but not enough to push it through the state house and onto Governor Mike Pence’s desk.
State Representative Tom Washburne (R-Dist.64) put an interesting spin on it after he shot down the bill in the state house. He claims it’s “an achievement to say we don’t judge the people” for their motivations.
“To me, it’s very difficult to say something is more or less a crime based on somebody’s motivation. So when you separate it and you try to create a special crime for it, what you’re saying is that if somebody’s on a street corner and they get beat up because somebody hates tall people and they happen to not be in any protected status, that’s less of a crime than if they beat you up because of your national origin,” he claims.
Has anyone ever heard of someone murdering, assaulting, harassing, or in any way harming a stranger because the victim is tall? Or because they are brunette? Blonde? Short? Skinny? Fat?
Nope, me neither.
To make such a statement demonstrates an amazing lack of empathy and an appalling amount of sheer ignorance on the part of Rep. Washburne.
As for me, I’m heading to the State House in Indianapolis. Gonna try to slap some sense into an ignorant and bigoted state representative from the 64th District. After all, it’s not a hate crime here, now, is it?