Texas has an abundance of religious-righters who send countless e-mails circulating throughout the internets. We don’t want to give specific ranters publicity by identifying them, but we will occasionally post examples of their nonsense to show the kind of extremism that passes for discourse on the far right.
Today we note an e-mail attacking proposed congressional legislation that would expand protections under the federal hate-crime law to those attacked because of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. The Senate added this measure to the defense appropriations bill last week. Just before the Senate vote on the measure, this serial e-mailer (with apparently a rather long list of recipients) recycled many of the talking points far-right pressure groups have been using to try to defeat it:
“If the Senate approves the Hate Crimes bill (an amendment added to the Defense budget bill) and it becomes the law of the land, here is a practical scenario that could occur:
If a sexual pervert were having sex with my dog (bestiality) in my backyard and I did something violent to stop the pervert, I could be charged and convicted of committing a hate crime and would receive a longer prison sentence than if the pervert had gone next door and beaten up a little old lady.”
Sigh. The proposed measure has nothing to do with bestiality or anyone legitimately defending themselves or property against a crime. She continues:
“The House Hate Crimes bill (H. R. 913 — already passed on 4.29.09) and the current Senate Hate Crimes bill (S. B. 909) do not define what ‘sexual orientation’ means, is based upon whatever the victim ‘perceives,’ and does not exclude bizarre sexual activities (e.g., bestiality, pedophilia, incest, sexual sadism, voyeurism, sexual masochism, transgenderism, exhibitionism, etc.).
First, “sexual orientation” is already defined in the federal Hate Crimes Statistic Act:
“As used in this section, the term ‘sexual orientation’ means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality.”
As such, sexual orientation does not include bestiality, pedophilia, or anything else. But that doesn’t stop the lies.
Second, the legislation isn’t “based on whatever the victim ‘perceives.'” The legislation addresses crimes “motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim.” The focus is on the perpetrator’s perception of the victim.
Third, the claim that the measure “does not exclude bizarre sexual activities” is ludicrous. The bill doesn’t explicitly “exclude” such practices because the statute couldn’t be legitimately interpreted as including them in the first place. We noted earlier this month that far-right opponents are disingenuously trying to kill the hate crimes measure by linking homosexuality to things, like pedophilia, that most people find objectionable. But lies, distortions and fear have become the primary political weapons of the far right.