Hateful Opposition to Hate Crimes Legislation

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After my post about hate crimes legislation earlier today, I thought I’d show you what the opposition looks like. Here is the headline from today’s OneNewsNow email:

OneNewsNow LogoHate crimes law – ungodly, unconstitutional, unnecessary

The interesting thing to note here is that the sole reason the individual in this article condemns the law is because he’s been prosecuted under it once before.

Michael Marcavage, director of Philadelphia-based Repent America, was one of 11 Christians who were jailed and charged with a hate crime for carrying Bible verse banners and preaching at a 2004 homosexual pride event in Philadelphia. The charges were later dismissed — and in 2008, the state’s Supreme Court ruled the law had been passed illegally by the Pennsylvania legislature.

Now, let’s be clear. The law in Pennsylvania was not overturned because the content of the law itself was unconstitutional. They simply found that it had been passed unconstitutionally, because a bill on another topic (agricultural crimes) had been amended to be about hate crimes, in violation of this provision in the Pennsylvania Constitution (Article III, Section 1):

No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended, on its passage through either House, as to change its original purpose.

Basically, he got off on a technicality. This doesn’t add much merit to his claims against the hate crimes bill.

In fact, he can’t complain about the bill without actually saying hateful things against the LGBT community:

Marcavage says the new federal hate crimes law is yet another move by the federal government to “silence Christians.”

“What this bill does is [seek] to shut down those who dare to speak against the sin of homosexuality with the hope and freedom that is found in Jesus Christ,” says the Christian activist.

“Having been charged under a hate crime, I’m definitely moved with compassion on those who the government is trying to silence us from reaching out to,” he continues, “but we’re going to continue to do as we have been doing, and ministering to those trapped in the bondage of this lifestyle.”

It takes a lot of gall to condemn people’s very existence as “sin,” “bondage,” and “lifestyle” in the name of “hope” and “freedom.” That is exactly what he tries to do though. While there may be those who oppose hate crimes laws because they don’t think they help, Marcavage is complaining that it keeps him from being as abrasive with his hate.

So if you had any misgivings about hate crimes laws, you can see what they actually help protect the community from: fear, intimidation, and hate (whether it’s in the name of Jesus Christ or not).

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There are 5 Comments to "Hateful Opposition to Hate Crimes Legislation"

  • Marc Malone says:

    Let me get this straight. The guy was arrested under a hate crimes law for preaching at a gay rights event?

  • ZackFord says:

    Yes, he was apparently yelling “Sodomists repent. You’re going to hell” through a bullhorn. The charges were eventually dismissed, and then Marcavage sued to have the law overturned on the technicality of how it was passed.

    Read more about Marcavage here:
    http://blogs.salon.com/0002874/2005/03/18.html

    Read more about his organization, Repent America, and their lawsuit here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repent_America

    The wiki article links to the court decision as well.

  • Will says:

    Woah, woah, woah.

    “The guy was arrested under a hate crimes law for preaching at a gay rights event?”

    That’s what he claims, but it’s not actually true. Here’s a more accurate lowdown on this tool:

    “The Court’s ruling contrasts the Philly Pride organizers of OutFest, who properly obtained a permit for their event and followed police instructions, with the anti-LGBT protesters, who did not apply for a permit, used bullhorns in an attempt to drown out Philly Pride’s speech, refused to follow police orders, acted belligerently, and threatened the peace by antagonizing a large crowd of people. The Court found that police acted properly by attempting to move the protesters and arresting them when they failed to comply. The members of Repent America were not prevented from speaking – it was their conduct, not the content of their speech, which led to their arrests.”
    http://www.hrc.org/issues/4856.htm

    It’s important to contrast the rhetoric of opponents with the truth of what the bill actually does. This is not about speech. It is about murder. Opponents of hate crime legislation focus on speech, and this is a deliberate scare tactic founded in misinformation.

    What hate crime legislation actually does is fairly simple: penalty-enhancement for violent crimes. When violent crimes are determined to be motivated by hate against a target minority, additional hate crime charges can be added to the primary charge of a violent crime, such as murder or arson. Without a violent crime, the hate crime laws do nothing.

    So, for example, we see that in the Marcavage case, hate crime charges were indeed completely egregious. No violent act was committed or incited by their actions (though, of course, their actions were illegal and did warrant arrest for other, different reasons). Had there been no hate crime legislation in place, actions of the police would have been identical, save the confused addition of that extra charge.

  • ZackFord says:

    It’s almost as if Marcavage went entirely out of his way to paint the whole thing so that it’s all about hate crimes law.

    Thanks for all the clarification, Will!

  • Matt says:

    While I do believe what he did was wrong, I do not believe it is a hate crime.  He should have been arrested and tryed for public endagerment if what he was doing truely was a danger to the people. 

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