Hate Crime Legislation Expanded To Gays

October 23, 2009

The Senate passed legislation yesterday extending hate crime protections to attacks committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation.  As usual, most arguments for and against this bill broke strictly along ideological lines.  According to those on the left, anyone opposed to hate crimes laws is a racist, fundamentalist homophobe. On the right, supporters of this legislation are seen as socialist atheists hell bent on destroying free speech , whose real intent is to prosecute preachers.

No right thinking person could condone attacking a fellow human being because of his or her race, religion, or sexual orientation. There is no legitimate debate.  What’s lost in all this vitriol are some very significant constitutional issues.  Apparently no real discussion is possible through all the noise. As Nat Hentoff wrote earlier this year, “How many Americans of all ages know of James Madison writing to Thomas Jefferson: We have “extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind.” But here we now have added federalization of one way not even Bush and Cheney ever thought of to undermine the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws” for individuals, not protected classes.

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