hate crimes legislation, who needs it?

I ended the last post on how less government does not equal more freedom, by inferring government advocacy should and can increase freedom. David Neiwert at Orcinus has a post up on the pending federal hate crimes bill that is a good example – of both how government can increase freedom, and where the resistance to such an increase (in freedom) can be found. Neiwert points out what the essential impetus behind the bill is:


“Bias-crime laws aren’t merely about “affirming the equality of all people”: they’re about preserving very real, basic freedoms — freedom of association, freedom of travel, the freedom to live where we choose, and most of all the freedom from fear — for every American.”

The bill seeks to affirm these freedoms through amplifying the severity of a crime should that crime be motivated as an affront against the “universal human traits” of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual preference on behalf of the victim. This bill would would act as a deterrent against crimes that single out a member of any such group for making the victim into public example for the purpose of intimidating the entire community of such people with the threat that this can happen to you too.

Seeing how, according to FBI statistics, hate crimes against Christians rank second in religiously motivated hate crimes, one would think that the republican right wing would be front and center for the passage of this bill. This should be especially true considering much of their famous victimization syndrome is characterized as an attack upon their Christian beliefs, and this bill would do much to protect their freedom of belief. Oddly though, this isn’t the case. And conversely, they have taken to an offensive against the bill, labeling it’s content as legislating against “thought crimes”, creating “unequal protection” from the law, and even going so far as to postulate that pedifiles (as a group) could find safe haven protection in the law, while veterans (as a group) could not, and that therefore the law protects pedifiles and punishes veterans. While David Neiwert goes on to untangle this nonsense (in the post), whats interesting to me is how the resistance to the legislation fits into the overall narrative driving the less (powerful, more gopher) government = the more freedom rubric.

As mentioned, it’s astonishing that the prospects for reinforcing protections that serve religious freedom would be rejected so out of hand. Unless of course, that somehow supporting the law, even with its tangible (self) benefits, can be seen as a sign of violating a larger principal, that any affirmations of government, will act ultimately to undermine the other networks in competition for power; the religious, economic, military, and aristocratic elite, simply by affirming (any) authority to the government. While at the same time, supporting the legislation would seem also to undermine their exceptionalist posture by allowing their position of authority to be normalized on an equal status as all the “others”.

Obviously then , from this perspective government is eschewed as a force that erodes their authority through mediation and equalizing power under the law. The abilities of business interests, the clergy, the military, and the aristocracy to craft cultural authority that’s facilitated at the expense of equality, fairness, and freedom are dependent on a government that is impotent to answer to the needs of the many if it threatens the power of the few. Even and in spite of relief and protection offered in lieu of their most ballyhooed vulnerabilities.

Which leads one to surmise, that the source of their fears – religious persecution – was bullshit all along.

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