With Reporters Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

Thought crime alert!  Thought crime alert!  The Providence Journal reports that Rhode Island tried to make bigotry illegal.  According to the Providence Journal, Governor Carcieri just vetoed a bill that would

Add “bigotry and bias” against people based on their “gender identity” to the state’s official list of hate crimes, which, as [Gov. Carcieri] notes, already addresses actions “motivated by racial, religious, sexual orientation, gender or disability prejudice.”

Oh my.  Bigotry and bias would have been hate crimes under the proposed law.  This is Maggie Gallagher’s worst nightmare:  people will be criminals solely for the content of their thoughts.   Is it happening?  Could this be true?

Of course not.

The bill doesn’t make “bigotry and bias” into hate crimes.  It doesn’t make them illegal.  In fact, the bill doesn’t make anything illegal.  See, for years, Rhode Island has had a tracking system in place for monitoring hate crimes.  It’s merely a data collection law.  And you know what this new bill does?  It adds crimes motivated by “gender identity” to the list of what to track.  Do you know what it doesn’t do?  It doesn’t — wait, I’m going to switch to a new paragraph and bold font, because this is important.

It doesn’t add “gender identity” to the existing statute on enhanced penalties for hate crimes. That’s a totally different bill.  (Want to get really wonky? The vetoed bill would have amended RI Statute 42-28-46, the law on tracking and monitoring, not RI Statute 12-19-38, the Hate Crimes Sentencing Act.)

And it certainly doesn’t make bigotry and bias illegal. Yes, if you commit something that’s already a crime (assault, murder, arson) then hate crime laws will give you harsher penalties if you’re motivated by hatred of someone’s “actual or perceived disability, religion, color, race, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, or gender” (even the vetoed law wouldn’t have added “gender identity to that list).  But you know what?  Those laws have been in force for years.  Which makes Carcieri’s veto message all the more strange:

As long as a criminal act was done willfully and knowingly, the perpetrator’s motives are irrelevant.

If that’s the case, governor, then would you advocate dropping protections for Christians and other religious people from Rhode Island’s Hate Crime Sentencing Act?  Or would that be unfairly singling out a group for unequal treatment.   Hmm?

In any case, we still have a prominent newspaper claiming the state legislature tried to make bigotry and bias based on gender identity into hate crimes, when they did nothing of the sort.   Believe me, with my firm opposition to hate speech laws, I’d have been all over this bill if it did.  The moment I saw that account in the Providence Journal, I knew it was wrong. It didn’t take long to track down the truth.  And I’m not even a reporter.

By the way, this dishonest account is being pushed by the Family Research Council, a notorious anti-gay hate group:

When legislation landed on [Carcieri's] desk to add “bigotry and bias” against people based on their “gender identity” to the state’s hate crime laws, he struck it down.

You know, if the LGBT community were as awful and fascistic as the far right claims, you’d think they’d be able to limit themselves to grievances that are actually true.

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4 comments to With Reporters Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

  • 1
    Ben in Oakland says:

    “As long as a criminal act was done willfully and knowingly, the perpetrator’s motives are irrelevant.”

    Rob– not to mention: this is why we have 1st degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, and so forth.

    Motives DO make a difference, and that has been settled law for hundreds of years.

  • 2
    Richard R says:

    Once again we have hysterical opposition from Super Christians to so-called thought-crimes. It seems odd for Super Christians to be so outraged by the concept of thought-crimes, since they worship and vigorously praise a god who invented thought-crimes and who then punishes the guilty with eternal damnation in the fires of hell. Yes, a god who decided to provide no credible evidence for his existence then sends you to hell for the thought-crime of not believing he exists.

  • 3
    Scott says:

    “The bill doesn’t make ‘bigotry and bias’ into hate crimes.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the United States. Yes there is a But. It has so much god damned lip service.

  • 4
    Ioan Lightoller says:

    I wouldn’t give a damn if it DID make things like hate speech official hate crimes. The right to free speech should end where bodily harm or death are a possible result of said speech. These people have gotten a free pass for far too long. How many have died because of their precious “free speech”?

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