Friday, May 1, 2009

Out of Line and Out of Bounds

No matter how you feel about gay marriage. No matter what you think about gay rights. By any stretch of the imagination, this is insulting and ignorant.

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx from Virginia, should be ashamed.

Perhaps you're not even a proponent of hate crime laws. There is an intelligent (although, in my view, not totally) reasonable argument to be made against it. But the dismissive distortion of facts in order to make such a case is thoughtless and careless.

Matthew Shepherd was a young man from Wyoming was brutally murdered. He was indeed, targeted because he was gay. His assailants, as do all of those who commit hate crimes, found it easy to do so because as a homosexual, it was easy to regard him as less than human. In the same way as African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Jews, Catholics and others have been targeted. It is senseless and it is the result of hate.

Of course one can make the argument that all murders stem from insanity or hatred. I make the argument that when one murders has dehumanized someone to the extent that they no longer respect that person's right to live, it is indeed a special category of offense. If you don't believe that, then we have a basis for a healthy, even vigorous debate. But foolish and extraneous contortions of the facts and history disqualify you from participating in the conversation. Sorry!

Should women be included in hate crime statutes? Should the disabled? Should other minorities be singled out? That is a legitimate subject for public debate. But those who engage in that debate, should know the facts.

What's worse is that this is yet another sign that there are some Republican politicians who really don't understand how tired America is of this type of rhetoric. Again, it is one thing to oppose proposed legislation as extreme, or unnecessary. Its yet another to disparage and demean an incident that represents a sea change in the way our country views crimes against persons. And to do so in a way that is so clearly out of touch with what has been shown to be the truth simply gives credence to what Democratic pollster Peter Hart said, "Republicans have been tone deaf to the results of the 2008 election... They never heard the message. They continue to preach the old-time religion."

Its a message that most Americans rejected as not good enough in 2006 and last year. It doesn't sound any better today.

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