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    May 04, 2007

    Islamists of a Christian feather

    Posted by: Chris

    33060218l I mentioned yesterday that Andrew Sullivan had posted my Amsterdam photo while making an excellent point about the real reason conservative Christians, who Andrew calls "Christianists," oppose adding gays to hate crime legislation:

    Christianists simply regard homosexuality as an evil and a sickness. Any law that implies that being gay is an identity and deserves equal respect and protection as other identities is anathema to them. Implicit in their worldview — and absolutely implicit in the position of the president — is that it's okay to attack gays in a way that it's not okay to attack, say, Jews or blacks. This is the core position of the Christianists — which is why I refuse to call them Christians.

    I agree entirely with him that their opposition springs primarily from resistance to any legal recognition of gays as a minority deserving of protection ("special rights" etc).  I don't completely agree that it's implicit in their view that it's OK to attack gays in a way it's not for Jews, blacks and other groups, though that is arguably the message their position sends.

    The opposition of conservative Christians to the Shepard Act is rooted, in addition to the first reason cited by Andrew, in a deep discomfort that attacks on gays involve misguided reactions to teachings they themselves espouse.  That, of course, is a far cry from attacks on blacks.   (Though racist attacks remain the moral legacy of a similar message of intolerance preached from the pulpits of conservative Christians a generation ago.)

    Granted, many of these same conservative Christians also preach that Jews, Muslims and other people of other religious faiths are Hell-bound, but including religion as a protected category is a political priority for conservative Christians, who have more than bought into the idea they are a "victimized majority."  That brings us to the final thing we can say about their opposition to the Shepard Act: They value protecting people from hate crimes less than they value protecting their own reputations as they preach intolerance.

    One blogger who reacted to Andrew's post took him to task for not clarifying that my boyfriend and I were attacked in Amsterdam by "radical Islamists" not "radical Christianists." And there's more, from Riehl World View:

    The real problem for Sullivan is that the Netherlands already has more stringent laws than anything being considered here in the US. He neglects to point that out along side his provocative example of Islamist Gay bashing.  The laws did absolutely no good. … Clearly Sullivan has the wrong -ist on his mind.

    Riehl World needs to step in to the real world.  First of all, it's silly to suggest hate crime laws are useless because we were gay bashed.  So I guess that means murder laws are useless, since homicides are a daily occurrence?  What's more, Andrew's comparison works because "Christianists" pose an indirect threat to gay Americans in a way very similar to "Islamists" in Europe. 

    The seven Moroccan 20-somethings who spat on us and beat us up for holding hands weren't "radical Islamists."  They weren't hanging out on the streets of Amsterdam at 2 a.m. on Queen's Day because they were headed to the mosque for prayer.  They were the Islamic equivalent of our own rednecks: macho thugs who have absorbed the prejudices of their culture, which persist in large part because their own conservative religious leaders dress up the bigotry and legitimize it.

    I'm not surprised to see conservative Christians freak out at the comparison with their hated Islamic foes. But when they regularly advocate the imposition of their own religious views in the law, the connection is more than well deserved.



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    1. North Dallas Thirty on May 4, 2007 4:28:48 PM:

      Well, first, given that over half of the hate crimes reported annually are on the basis of religion, versus less than 20% on the basis of sexual orientation, it would seem that the religious ARE victimized more than gays are.

      Second, one's right to practice their own religion free from interference or discrimination IS a specific Constitutionally-protected right, as is the parallel for race or national origin.

      However, I'm confused. In your previous post, you insisted that Dobson should not be held responsible for attacks on gays unless he specifically orders them, and that association with said beliefs or individuals should not be brought in unless it relates specifically to the crime. Yet here, you quite clearly, as did Matt Foreman before you, blame Dobson and Christians for their teachings being the cause of attacks on gay people -- which means it IS related, it CAN be brought in as evidence, and it CAN be prosecuted as a hate crime for "causing" violence against gays.

      That makes this law complete violation of the First Amendment alone -- not to mention the fact that the law's provisions allowing the Federal government to prosecute a person who has already been convicted of a crime for the same crime because the previous sentence doesn't "vindicate" the government's belief in what they should have gotten likely runs afoul of double jeopardy, and the Federal government's ability to interfere in any investigation it likes as long as the Attorney General certifies it, regardless of whether it involves Federal law or property, also is a violation of the Ninth Amendment and enumerated powers.

    1. Citizen Crain on May 4, 2007 4:41:15 PM:

      First to correct your facts: In 2005 (most recent year available), FBI stats show hate crimes were motivated by race (54.7%), religion (17.1%), sexual orientation (14.2%), and ethnicity (13.2%). (FBI stats: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2005/incidentsoffenses.htm)

      Even if gay bashings were half as common as religious bashings, as you claimed, considering how many more religious Americans than there are gay Americans, our exposure to hate crimes is exponentially higher.

      Second, you are confusing LAW with MORALITY. Andrew and I both are saying that those who preach against homosexuality in Christian and Islam bear a MORAL responsibility for a climate that results in hate crimes. Neither of us has suggested a LEGAL responsibility, and in fact the law specifically excludes such a possibility.

      So NDT, can we count on your support? ;)

    1. Tim on May 4, 2007 5:15:54 PM:

      I don't support hate crime legislation because what do you tell a victim of a crime that was equally severe but not "hate" motivated? That they don't deserve the same justice as a gay? or a black. The idea is patently ridiculous and regardless of me being gay I think it's incredibly selfish of people the try and elevate themselves to a special sentencing class. Fight for true crime prevention and legal enforcement, work that everyone attacked by thugs be thrown in jail for the full term.
      I'm afraid I'm just not in your corner on this one Chris.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on May 4, 2007 5:23:08 PM:

      My mistake; I did get the religious and the race numbers confused.

      "Even if gay bashings were half as common as religious bashings, as you claimed, considering how many more religious Americans than there are gay Americans, our exposure to hate crimes is exponentially higher."

      According to the source cited, Chris, there were 1,171 hate crimes reported to the FBI that could be tagged as sexual orientation bias.

      In California alone, we gays are estimated to make up 8% of the total population -- or just about 2.88 million people.

      That means that, even if all those crimes were committed in California, it would represent 0.04% of the total estimated gay population of the entire state being directly affected by a hate crime.

      Meanwhile, in San Francisco alone, an estimated 19,000 people are living with HIV, an estimated 975 will get infected this year, and an estimated 88% of both figures will be gay ( http://www.aidslifecycle.org/about/hivstats.html ) An estimated 77% of the 9,000 projected new HIV cases in California for this year ALONE will be gay men -- a total of just under 7,000 cases, or nearly seven times the number of hate-crimes cases reported against gays in a year.

      Tell me again; why is it so important to waste time on what other people are allegedly doing to us, especially when there is already a perfectly good system of law enforcement, judiciaries, and juries to investigate, prosecute, and punish crimes of this nature, when we ourselves are responsible for more death and injury to OURSELVES than others are?

      On one level, I understand why we love hate crimes laws so much; they play to our prejudices that law enforcement, judges, and juries are homophobic, they fulfill our revenge fantasies, and they do a good job of diverting our attention away from the far more numerous self-inflicted wounds that our community suffers every year. But that doesn't make them good policy.

      And my support will come, grudgingly, when the law follows the parameters of current hate crimes laws -- that is, only when participating in a Federally-protected activity.

    1. Citizen Crain on May 4, 2007 8:03:44 PM:

      NDT, you're a moving target. I'm sorry you don't respect those of us who favor hate crime laws enough to accept that we want them because we believe these crimes are more dangerous for our society than others. I was gay bahsed and made clear in every interview afterward that I thought the police handled it perfectly. I have no thirst for revenge, either.

      And HIV transmissions? They are relevant how? There are irresponsible gay men, for sure, just as irresponsible straight guys have been impregnating women for centuries. But all in all, considering the huge psychological ramifications of having to think about disease and death in the middle of a sex act, gay men have done a commendable job of changing their conduct and controlling transmission. The latest data on "serosorting," where poz guys have unprotected sex only with other poz guys, only further bears this out.

      Suggesting we can either protect ourselves from unsafe sex or protect ourselves from being bashed — but not both — is a false choice. If we really respect ourselves, we should want to do both.

    1. Tim on May 4, 2007 8:27:27 PM:

      NDT just likes to argue, maybe it's fun when your around him but on blogs it's tedious when he moves the goal posts with each loss.

      But I really don't believe that violent crime is any worse or better regardless of it's motivation. Put it this way does a person who beats their child to death more or less deserving of punishment than a man or woman that beats an effimenent college kid? once you start grading crime you have to rate it all. In Gulliani's push to fight crime in NYC it was petty crime, jay walking graffiti, littering) that had the greatest effect because if re-enforced social responsibility. By targeting a special class of criminal your not imparting that lesson to everyone your just putting a target on their chest that says if you feel maligned by the system beating this person will give you the greatest media impact.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on May 4, 2007 10:27:36 PM:

      "I'm sorry you don't respect those of us who favor hate crime laws enough to accept that we want them because we believe these crimes are more dangerous for our society than others."

      Our society, Chris, or your personal well-being?

      I fail to see why, if local courts and the like are so horribly underfunded, incompetent, and prejudiced that crimes won't be investigated properly unless the Federal government steps in, that things like this ( http://www.kfvs12.com/Global/story.asp?S=6459345&nav=8H3xWJVW ) are allowed to slide through the cracks without instant Federal funding -- or the right of the Federal government to re-try the perpetrator and impose something more stringent if they don't like the original sentence for the crime.

      Isn't it amazing how only crimes against gays and minority groups count as "dangerous to society"? Indeed, I wonder if the Virginia Tech shootings would qualify as a hate crime under this new law, given that the shooter wasn't acting out of bias against a given race, national origin, or sexual orientation.

      Basically put, what this bill makes clear is that gays only care about how well violent crime is prosecuted or funded when it's a member of their own minority group -- and the rest of "society" can just go to hell.

      And meanwhile, my point was that if gays want to channel resources towards the most likely threat to our existence, HIV far outstrips the probability of gaybashing -- and, unlike gaybashing, does NOT have an existing system of law enforcement, judiciaries, and juries to investigate, prosecute, and punish it.

      Or, in short, we already have a set of laws that says it's wrong to beat, torture, tie someone to a fence, and then leave them to die, and a justice system that investigates, prosecutes, and severely punishes people who do so. But the gay community obsesses over adding more to that while ignoring the fact that HIV "bashes" more of us annually in one city ALONE than all the hate crimes in the nation do.

    1. Tim C on May 5, 2007 12:47:17 AM:

      ...whom Andrew calls "Christianists"..., not 'who'. Sorry, that just leapt out at me.

    1. Uncle Mikey on May 6, 2007 11:02:53 AM:

      So muslims beat you up and now you're mad at christians? How does that work, exactly?

      Christians oppose adding gays to hate crime legislation because they oppose hate crime legislation. Period. Paranoia does not a stronger argument build.

    1. Citizen Crain on May 6, 2007 12:58:19 PM:

      I'll 'splain how it works, Uncle Mikey. ;)

      I'm not "mad at Christians." I am saying that conservative Christian and Muslim clerics contribute to and foster a culture that says it's OK to treat gays as unnatural and disgusting. That translates at the redneck/thug level with being spit on in the face and bashed when we hold hands in the street.

      Of course conservative Christians don't directly encourage violence against us, but where is their voice speaking out against those who are misguided about their teachings? Why is it we only hear from them opposing hate crime laws?

      One final point, please don't speak for "Christians" because you don't. Conservative Christians are louder than other branches but they're not in the majority of Christians, much less Americans generally.

      Conservative Christians love to claim that America is a "Christian nation," then how do they (you?) explain the fact that almost three-quarters of Americans support hate crime laws?

      Sounds like Christians are split on the question and only those who are anti-gay are worried the legislation hits a little too close to home.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on May 6, 2007 5:34:42 PM:

      "Of course conservative Christians don't directly encourage violence against us, but where is their voice speaking out against those who are misguided about their teachings? Why is it we only hear from them opposing hate crime laws?"

      Because, Christ, the gay community chooses to believe what it wants, rather than to listen.

      "People who make obscene, threatening phone calls or stalk homosexual men to harangue them and beat them with metal pipes are not reading the Americans For Truth website — nor are they reading their Bibles — nor are they Christian in any sense of the word. They are wicked and must be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

      ( http://americansfortruth.com/news/pam-spaulding-falsely-accuses-christians-of-inciting-violence-but-what-about-her-own-behavior.html#more-980 )

      And the reason Americans support hate crimes laws is because they've been misled about what those laws mean. How about you tell them that if a gay man is punched and they think it was motivated by "bias", that man can be brought up on hate-crimes charges.....but that the Virginia Tech shooter likely could not be, nor could the person I cited above who stabbed a kid nineteen times on a school bus?

      Also, do you think they'd support them if they were told the real reason -- that gays and Democrats believe that local law enforcement, judges, and juries are too underfunded, incompetent, and prejudiced to try cases correctly when it involves protected classes?

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