Lying to Hate

The Dobson gang is lying again.

Focus on Family, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and other supposedly pr0-family Christian groups have launched a full-fledged attack on the Matthew Shephard Act currently before the Senate (the House version passed in March).

What will this law do? It will strengthen already existing federal hate crime law by adding perceived gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability to the current categories of race, color, religion, and national origin, and by no longer restricting it to crimes that take place while the victim was in the act of performing a federally protected act, like voting or going to school.

Now, I can see how someone might argue that hate crimes legislation doesn’t work or isn’t necessary. I don’t happen to agree with them, but I could see that. But in that case they would have to argue for getting rid of all hate crime laws, not just ones that add sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s not what Dobson and Friends are doing.

No, instead, they’re scaring their base by shouting far and wide that the Matthew Shephard Act will restrict Christians’ freedom of speech and make it a crime for clergy to preach that homosexuality is a sin.


They know that’s not true. If their sheep would read the actual act instead of opening wide and swallowing, they would know it’s not true as well.

The language of the act clearly limits it to “crimes of violence.” Does that include sermons. No. The act defines “crime of violence” according to “the meaning given that term in section 16, title 18, United States Code.” That meaning is, according to the code, is:

Sec. 16. Crime of violence defined

The term “crime of violence” means–
(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or
threatened use of physical force against the person or property of
another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature,
involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person
or property of another may be used in the course of committing the

Physical force. Felony. Not speech, sermons, or religious beliefs. If this woman wants to stand outside the Massachusetts state house with her hateful and semi-literate sign, she’s free to, and the police will even protect her right to.

Mass Resistance protester with Nazi sign

They only stopped protecting her when she slugged a pro-marriage equality activist. See the difference, Dobson? Speech is free. Physical violence is not.

By the way, if Ms. Steele wants to use Nazi analogies, it might serve her well to read a little about Paragraph 175.

So, if the Matthew Shephard Act would only apply to crimes of violence, and if the Christian right is protesting that the Act would limit their freedom, does that mean they want to commit crimes of violence?

They must. Otherwise, why would they care?

Likewise, if they’re so against hate crimes laws, why don’t they protest the federal law as it now stands, with its definitions based on ethnicity and religion?

Could it be that they’re blowing smoke up their followers’ asses and know that it has nothing to do with free speech and religious beliefs?

James Dobson is not a stupid man. He can read the simple language of the act as well if not better than I can. He knows that he is lying to his followers, as is Tony Perkins, Lou Sheldon, and the rest of that lot. But they lie anyway. Why?

Could it be that they feel their power slipping as the monkey puppet they put in the White House becomes less popular than head lice? Is it because they’ve seen recent polls showing that a majority of American now support the repeal of DADT, support either marriage or civil unions for LGBT couples, support the rights of LGBT couples to adopt, and support hate crimes legislation? Are they seeing a blue future? Are they feeling that they’re losing their grip even on Republicans? Do they realize that 2004 was probably the high water mark of their legislative and electoral power? Could it be a last ditch attempt to retain their power by trying one more time their old trick of throwing the LGBT bogeyman in front of their rabid followers?

Will it work this time? If the polls tell us anything, no. But polls don’t tell everything. While the majority of Americans may favor expanding the current hate crimes legislation, calls and emails telling Senators to vote against the Matthew Shephard Act are outnumbering those for it 5 to 1.

They may be outnumbered, they may be losing power, but they’re still loud.

We need to be louder.

It’s important.

For those who doubt the reality of hate crimes, there was a new study revealed today about the prevalence of violence against LGB people (apparently transgendered people weren’t surveyed, although I imagine that would only increase the already disturbingly high numbers).

According to the study, “nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation.” Overall, 21% were a victim of a crime against themselves or their property because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, “49 percent said they had been verbally abused because of their sexual orientation, 23 percent reported being threatened with violence, 12.5 percent reported having objects thrown at them, and 11 percent reported housing or job discrimination.”

I emphasized “because of their sexual orientation” to highlight one of the key points in the hate crimes debate. Opponents claim that hate crime laws put a greater value on some victims over others. Not true. If a gay man and a straight man are each mugged on the street, the perpetrator will receive the same treatment. The crimes are equal; the victims are equal.

If, however, a gay man is assaulted because he is gay, if the assault is used to terrorize the entire gay population, it is not the same crime as an assault for other causes. According the HRC fact sheet on hate crimes:

Every act of violence is tragic and harmful in its consequences, but not all crime is based on hate. A hate crime or bias motivated crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. A bias motivated crime affects not only the victim and their family but an entire community or category of people and their families. A study funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics released September 2000, shows that 85 percent of law enforcement officials surveyed recognize bias motivated violence to be more serious than similar crimes not motivated by bias.

Hate crimes are destructive and divisive. A random act of violence resulting in injury or even death is a tragic event that devastates the lives of the victim and their family, but the intentional selection and beating or murder of an individual because of who they are terrorizes an entire community and sometimes the nation. For example, it is easy to recognize the difference between check-kiting and a cross burning; or an arson of a office building versus the intentional torching of a church or synagogue. The church or synagogue burning has a profound impact on the congregation, the faith community, the greater community, and the nation.

It’s not about free speech. It’s about free lives. Lives free from hate and terror.

I give to the ACLU to protect the right of James Dobson to preach his distorted brand of Christianity over the radio, to protect the right of Diana Steele to compare Massachusetts legislators to Hitler, to protect the right of supposed Christians to shout over bullhorns at Pride that I am a perverse, sick sinner who will go to hell.

I wrote to my senators to tell them to vote for the Matthew Shephard Act to prevent violence and terrorism against Americans who other Americans don’t want to exist.

You can write your senators too. Please do.

Bush, of course, will show once again how out of step he is with the American public and veto it.



  1. Bubba said,

    June 30, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    See you are discussing Dr. Dobson. Read my take about him at


    Insight into tyrannical writings:

  2. July 12, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    […] They protest the Matthew Shephard Act saying it will stifle religious freedom but they don’t have any trouble trying to stifle […]

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