LaBarbera’s Incoherence on Hate Crimes
July 30th, 2008
Peter LaBarbera thinks that the media attention surrounding the Knoxville shooting “proves” that hate crime laws aren’t necessary. According to the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow:
The pro-family advocate adds that the homosexual movement gets favorable treatment within the media, and LaBarbera says with that type of coverage there is no need for special legislation to “give more attention and better treatment to this case.” He adds that with the media spotlight on the incident, “it proves our case” that hate crimes laws are not necessary.
The tortured logic behind this statement is astounding. LaBarbera constantly complains that gays are getting “favorable treatment” in the media. Now he says that gays don’t need hate crime protections because of that treatment. But if the media acted the way LaBarbera wants them to act — by only portraying gays and lesbians in a negative light — would he then agree that maybe hate crime protections are warranted? Don’t count on it.
Besides, here’s a news flash for LaBarbera. The FBI is already investigating this as a hate crime.
Why? According to Stacie Bohanan, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Knoxville division, “Anytime someone uses force to obstruct another person in the free exercise of their religious beliefs, that becomes a violation of the federal civil rights statutes.”
And according to police reports, it certainly appears that Jim David Adkisson targeted the church because of its “liberal” beliefs, which just happen to include a safe and welcoming haven for gays and transgender people.
So ironically, if authorities decide that Adkisson is guilty of a hate crime, it will be because he committed a crime based on the victim’s religious beliefs, which is protected. It’s the same protection that everyone enjoys, not just religious minorities. In 2006, the FBI recorded 62 anti-Protestant hate crime incidents. Last I checked, Protestants were hardly a persecuted minority. But when the law covers religion, it covers all religions — even atheists.
But if this same shooting had happened instead at an LGBT community center, the FBI would nowhere in sight. The same crime targeted against a different community would be treated very differently under the law.
Now if people like LaBarbera were arguing that there should be no hate crime laws period, then that would be different. But I don’t see him arguing that. He’s only arguing that existing laws should not be extended to cover violent and property crimes motivated by sexual orientation. He claims that doing so would be some sort of “special” treatment under the law.
Well, as the law stands today, it is special treatment. LaBarbera’s religious beliefs are protected under current hate crime laws.
And even if the law were changed to extend protections based on sexual orientation, LaBarbera would still be protected — perhaps even moreso. Because if he is ever straight-bashed in a violent crime or a property crime — as 28 other heterosexuals were in 2006, then the law would be there to protect him too.
But as long as The Peter continues to agitate against hate crime protections based on sexual orientation — and let’s add gender identity and expression while we’re at it — while complaining about “anti-Christian” persecution, then the only thing he’s interested in is keeping “special protections” all for himself. And with that argument, he’s either showing his ignorance or his hatred. Pick one.