Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rep. Gohmert on "Hate Crimes" & "Sexual Orientation"

One of the more entertaining and fearless people we heard at the Vision America conference in D.C. last week was Rep. Louie Gohmert, a former judge in Texas, elected U.S. Representative in 2004. We picked up a copy of one of his speeches, arguing against "hate crimes" legislation. Gohmert gets it: The very concept of "hate crimes" is irrational, and since the phrase "sexual orientation" is nowhere defined, it opens up the door to anything imaginable.

In the [Texas] dragging death case, I personally might support punishment by allowing the victim's despondent family to choose the rope or chain and the terrain over which to drag the heartless defendant to inflict the death penalty. But the hate crime laws do not offer a more painful form of capital punishment. The one yesterday [9-14-05] certainly does not, so it would have had absolutely no effect on the very cases its proponents often herald as poster examples.

What was done yesterday created a vague, ambiguous Federal offense which sends a message that random, senseless acts of violence are far more preferable in our society than such acts with a motive. Never mind that sociopaths or antisocial personalities who commit random, senseless acts of violence are unlikely to be rehabilitated. They will not get punished under this new law passed out of this House yesterday.

This new hate crimes bill that passed yesterday, this body said to the world that "sexual orientation" and not just "gender," which should be respected, but "gender identity," whatever that is, are in the same category as those unfortunate individuals who have suffered because of the color of their skin or their religious preference.

Have the Members ever stopped to think about the words "sexual orientation"? Regardless of what definition they may give those words, when we pass laws, the words used create an exceptional chance that at some point down the road someone is going to say the words mean exactly what they say. In the case of "sexual orientation," someday someone can look at those words and say they have the very meaning they state: That includes those who are sexually oriented towards animals, those who are sexually oriented towards corpses, those who are sexually oriented towards children. That is abominable. But someday those words could be cited by some appellate court as having their very plain meaning, not just the meaning that is socially or culturally accepted at the time they were passed.

There is another aspect that is not discussed or debated but is coming some day through this new law. It is true that the law addresses crimes of violence or attempted crimes of violence. However, under Article 18 U.S. Code 2(a) of the Federal Criminal Code, "whoever aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces, or procures' a crime's commission is punishable just as if he is the principal."

Do the Members understand what that means? Let me ask my colleagues if a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim religious leader teaches and preaches that homosexuality is wrong or is a sin and someone in the leader's flock commits a crime against a person who chooses to practice such acts, has the religious leader counseled or induced such an act through his or her teaching? Someday someone will say so, and ministers will be arrested for their preaching. They will be said to have incited such conduct through hateful teaching. As a matter of fact, some people already blame religious leaders for acts of violence in such cases, and I do not defend any minister who encourages such conduct. That should be punished.

They are wrong. But having harshly sentenced people who have committed crimes of hate, and also those who have committed crimes at random, cold-blooded, heartless thugs, I can tell my colleagues that the victims and their loved ones in all of these cases are all traumatized and distraught and deserving of sympathy and compassion.

So what is the message our great hate crime legislation sends? Apparently, through hate crime legislation, we are simply saying to the world, if you are really going to hurt me, please, please do not hate me. Instead, make it a random, cold-blooded, senseless act of violence. That is what we prefer in this country, according to this bill.
[Emphasis added.]