Technically, HR 1913 will provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes, and for other purposes. Sounds so simple. But this legislation will not only expand existing assaults on freedom of speech, it will also cost a bundle and further intrude the federal government into local and state jurisdictions. While the law does stipulate federal assistance will be provided “at the request of a State, local, or tribal law enforcement agency,” the language is troublesome and the costs will certainly grow beyond the $10 million estimated by the Congressional Budget Office for 2010.
The bill panders to advocacy groups and community groups with the fiscal tool every politician loves—federal grants. HR 1913 says, “In implementing the grant program under this subsection, the Office of Justice Programs shall work closely with grantees to ensure that the concerns and needs of all affected parties, including community groups and schools, colleges, and universities, are addressed through the local infrastructure developed under the grants.”
And the way the bill is worded, almost any violent crime could fit the provisions of HR 1913 governing “offenses involving actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.”
So who determines what is “perceived”? A team of shrinks purchased by the government?
Consider this section: “the defendant uses a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in connection with the conduct” resulting in bodily injury. So if a member of President Barack Obama’s former congregation listened to hate speech by Jeremiah Wright in the pulpit and that member goes out and starts shooting white people, it’s a special hate crime and the pastor is an actor, right?
And someone needs to explain the use of words like “channel” and “facility”—how will this impact Air America or rightwing radio hosts? How will this impact major religions? Was Wright’s pulpit a channel? Once his diatribes hit YouTube, does that constitute interstate commerce since those videos often contain advertising?
We already have laws stipulating process and punishment for violent crimes. HR 1913 defies the tenets of equality by elevating some individuals above others, yet leaves a big door wide open—if a gay man decides to rob a heterosexual man and kills him, is that a hate crime? Who decides what the perp perceived during the commission of his crime?
The bill even seems to contradict itself, with language suggesting the authors anticipate problems with the Constitution: “If any provision of this Act, an amendment made by this Act, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and the application of the provisions of such to any person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.”
Here’s another insult to intelligence. The CBO said, “Based on trends in federal investigations and prosecutions in recent years, CBO expects that the new hate crimes established by the bill would apply to a small number of cases each year.” How fast can you say 'pander'?
All Americans are guaranteed equal rights. HR 1913 turns that premise on end, and throws more federal money into methodology that can further usurp the sovereignty of the state. This is another example of an antiquated Congress far removed from the people and another example of Congress pandering to special interest groups whose members are already rightfully protected under the law. Members of both parties who support this bill should have their collective heads examined. HR 1913 is a hate crime against freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the taxpayer.