Your government is seriously engaged in the noble business of
expanding hate crime legislation. Let the word go out that I strongly
favor this legislative assault on hate in America. I hate hate, and I
hate Americans who hate other Americans because of who and what they
Before proceeding, I concede the point that if I hate Americans who
hate other Americans, this means that I, as an American, hate myself.
In any case, both the current hate crime law and the one being
processed through Congress have significant problems of interpretation
and application. For example, if you burn down someone’s house because
you enjoy watching a good fire, you get a standard sentence. If,
however, it can be proved that you burned down the house because it was
owned by, shall we say, an Asian American, and you hate Asian Americans,
you get a more severe sentence, that is, unless you yourself are also an
Asian American, in which case, the arson is simply arson and not also a
Let us beg a question: Is it a hate crime if the assailant smiles
while lighting the fire, gives every evidence of having a good time
doing it, and yells out for witnesses to hear, “I am not burning your
house down because you are an Asian American, but because I missed a
2-foot putt yesterday and my eggs were overcooked this morning!”?
The current law, The Hate Crime Prevention Law of 1998, permits
federal prosecution when a crime is motivated by race, religion,
national origin or color. The crime must also be intended to interfere
with a victim’s federally protected rights, such as voting, visiting a
national park, or attending a government school.
The proposed law, The Hate Crime Prevention Act of 1999, adds sexual
orientation, gender and disability to the mix. It also allows federal
policemen to intercede in perceived hate crimes whether federally
protected rights are involved or not. In effect, the law expands federal
jurisdiction over local crimes.
We should all be proud that our federal government has not been
deterred from the war on hate crimes by the antiquated provisions of the
Constitution of the United States. Surely, every thinking American would
support the idea that hate trumps the Constitution every time.
Everything else does, so why not hate?
We should also be pleased that the term “sexual orientation” was used
to describe the behavior being protected. The reason is obvious. When
legislators use the word “race,” they mean all races, when they use the
word “religion,” they obviously mean all religions, and when they use
the term “sexual orientation,” they mean all sexual orientations, not
just the same-sex orientation of homosexuals.
It is only fair that the law embrace, not only homosexuality, but all
forms of sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, voyeurism,
polygamy, bisexuality, necrophilia, trisexuality, pornography,
bestiality, exhibitionism, pedophilia, auto-eroticism, cross-dressing
and the displacement of sexual attraction to underwear and footstools.
If these behaviors had been excluded, how would we respond to the
Anti-Defamation League of American Flashers (ALAF) when they assail us
with this argument: “We didn’t choose to be flashers. We didn’t just
suddenly one day say to ourselves: ‘I think I’ll be a flasher when I
grow up.’ Get real! This is simply what we are — the way God made us.
All we are trying to do is to be honest about the human body. Why is
showing it so wrong? When are you going to recognize your flashophobic
behavior? When are you going to give us the right to take off our
raincoats, come out of our automobiles, and be what we are, without fear
of being attacked by some right-wing bigot?”
It is my view that no one should be left behind. In addition to
variously oriented sexual deviants, there are many others among us who
might qualify for hate crime coverage by virtue of substantial public
scorn and hostility.
How may we exclude such publicly despised contenders as cigar
aficionados, tobacco executives, members of the militia, drunks,
conservative columnists, trial lawyers, IRS agents, used-car salesmen,
politicians and skinheads? Are they not equally worthy in the eyes of
And in the spirit of our president’s call to arms against crimes of
hate, surely, anyone who assaults, maligns or harasses a proud and
practicing Southern Baptist should get triple punishment, including
enforced attendance at a brain-scrubbing sensitivity seminar designed by
Alas, the new hate crime proposal does not include white heterosexual
males as a protected category. If one were so inclined, one might think
that excluding this particular group of Americans reflects a hate so
deep as to suggest there is nothing either special or hateful about
dragging one of them behind a truck.