Congress is gearing toward the passage of an expansion to the federal hate crime law that would encompass attacks motivated by the victims' gender or sexual orientation. The president - for only the third time in his presidency - has threatened to veto it.
With strong backing from the Democratic majority, it looks like President Bush has yet another bill coming to his desk that doesn't fit his agenda. It will only be the third one to be sent back to Congress, but the president is currently at a perfect 2-2, having successfully defeated the recent troop-funding bill that called for a withdrawal timetable, and last year's federally funded stem-cell research bill. It is likely he'll go 3-3 if the Democrats can’t get enough Republicans to back the "Hate Crimes Prevention Act."
Today the conservative National Review Online posted an editorial echoing the fears of opponents that the strengthen law would obstruct free speech (emphasis added):
Many proponents of hate-crimes laws profess to have no desire to move against free speech. But we fear that it may be a short jump from prosecuting "hate crimes" to prosecuting "hate speech." It is true that the law routinely looks into defendants' motives, and that some motives tend to draw tougher sentences than others. But our social divisions, especially over homosexuality, make it especially dangerous for the law to inquire into defendants' prejudices—and "prejudices." We want to deter and punish crimes against blacks, women, homosexuals, and everyone else. But we do not want to open the door to legal punishment for harboring incorrect thoughts about controversial issues—especially when those incorrect thoughts are part of the historic teaching of our major religions.Yes it sounds like the National Review just admitted religion is possibly responsible for the so-called homophobia that inspires crimes against homosexuals and that the preservation of traditional religious teachings (albeit "wrong") justifies the potential consequences.
It's not the easiest position to defend but it's the right one and there are plenty of reasons to oppose federal hate-crime legislation. The "Hate Crimes Prevention Act" sounds like a good idea when you read it, but if our current murder prevention laws don't prevent people from committing murder, can we really expect this legislation to change the minds of the perpetrators who are going to do it but for racist reasons?
But the "Hate Crimes Prevention Act" shouldn't just be opposed because it's not going to prevent anything, it should be opposed primary because Congress has no business legislating our thoughts - however bigoted they may be. Punishing someone harder for committing a likewise offense as someone else but for "hateful" purposes is a violation of the First Amendment's free speech clause and maybe even the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, and would probably not pass constitutional muster with the Supreme Court.
Such legislation would artificially inflate the value of some classes by denying justice to others; say, by making the punishment harsher when the victim (in a rare circumstance) is of a different color or sexual orientation. And because the majority of crimes are intra-racial and between members of the same sexual orientation, the "Hate Crimes Prevention Act" only intends to serve a minority of victims.
To be sure, we do have ways of punishing criminals based on their motives and other factors that led them to committing the crime. After a decision to convict in a criminal trial the jury gets to weigh the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the crime and sets the punishment accordingly. Sometimes the law restricts how much freedom juries and judges have but they usually have the discretion to tack on additional punishment, especially when the crime is particularly heinous.
The "Hate Crimes Prevention Act" and similar laws are fruitless, unnecessary, and will only increase President Bush's veto winning streak.
UPDATE: The House has passed the bill by a vote of 237-180.
Posted by Aggressive-Voice at 3:44 PM
The same man who said the defeat of a bill last year that would have allowed concealed-weapon permit holders to carry guns on campus "will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus" is still an active mouthpiece after yesterday's tragedy at Virginia Tech - where it was hardly safe.
Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations, said at a recent news conference that "police are having difficulty finding information" about Cho Seung-Hui, the recently identified 23-year-old shooter from South Korea who killed 32 people yesterday before turning the gun on himself.
"He was a loner," Mr. Hincker said.
Somebody should tell Mr. Hincker that there have always been Cho Seung-Huis on college campuses and there are many more ticking time bombs just like him waiting to go off. Should we still feel safe knowing that?
Representative Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, who introduced last year's bill that would have allowed students to stop Seung-Hui in his tracks should reintroduce his much-needed legislation. Then, regardless of its outcome, we can all hear what else Larry Hincker has to say on the matter.
My article yesterday presents the case for guns on campus.
Posted by Aggressive-Voice at 1:20 PM
As we take the time to mourn the terrible tragedy that occurred today on the campus of Virginia Tech , brace yourself for the countless TV pundits now flooding the airwaves and cable news programs with their opinions on how the availability of guns is compromising the safety of college campuses. But what you won’t hear much of - if at all - is the defeat of a bill that would have allowed students to carry guns to school, and a spokesman from Virginia Tech who had the audacity to call his campus “safe” as a result of the bill’s defeat.
It was a massacre today; 33 dead in what is being called the worst shooting incident in American history. And of course the liberal media and anti-gun reporters are all over it - blaming such tragedies and the ones before today on the availability of guns.
But let's for a second draw this theory out to its logical conclusion and realize that it's the EXACT opposite. We want to blame everything on the availability of guns yet 32 innocent students and faculty members died today because there were NO guns on campus...except for the ones being wielded by the killer of course.
And with gun control that's what you’re going to get every time: a defenseless populace in the crosshairs of a deranged killer who magically finds himself in possession of a gun despite a ban or law saying he can't have one.
Last year the Virginia House of Representatives killed House Bill 1572, a proposal drafted by Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, on behalf of the Virginia Citizens Defense League that would have allowed students and employees to conceal weapons on college campuses.
Anti-gun advocates were giddy over the bill's defeat. In a statement made shortly after that should make all Americans sick today, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said with a smile: "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."
Just how safe, Mr. Hincker? So safe that because your students can't bring guns onto campus more than 30 of them had to die today? Well it looks like one person decided he wasn't going to follow the toothless law and couldn't have been any more successful in his plan to kill as many people as possible.
But Mr. Hincker isn’t alone of course. The selfish Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police were also against the bill. And why not? By the very nature of their job they're allowed to protect themselves.
And if you've been following the timeline of events, protecting themselves is about all the police in Virginia know how to do, despite two hours in between the first and much deadlier second shooting.
About one year ago a Virginia Tech student was disciplined for bringing a handgun to class, regardless of the fact that he had a concealed handgun permit. You see, even though this student was qualified to carry a handgun and was seen by the state as someone who could conceal one in most places, a ridiculous and deadly policy allowed for him to be punished because he was forbidden to carry one on campus.
Opponents of legislation that would allow law-abiding students and employees to bring guns onto campuses have no rational arguments to make in opposition but can only harp about how the availability of guns makes the environment dangerous. We don't know if there's any truth to that claim, but we do know just how dangerous it is on college campuses without that much needed legislation.
NOTE: Michelle Malkin is all over the anti-gun bias in the news.
Posted by Aggressive-Voice at 9:52 PM
An aggressive nationwide movement to force schoolgirls into the clinic for vaccination against a virus that causes cervical cancer has come to a halt - at least for now - in Texas.
Republican Governor Rick Perry had signed an execute order requiring that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated against some strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four U.S. women ages 14 to 59 is infected with it.
But the Texas House voted 118-23 last Wednesday to approve a bill that would keep the vaccine off the list of required shots for school participation and instead make them voluntary. The measure now goes to the state Senate where a majority of members are co-sponsoring an identical bill.
If the governor decides to continue angering his conservative base and veto the bill that would oppose his plan and make the vaccines optional, the 118 votes against him would be more than enough to override it.
In New Mexico, Democratic governor and presidential hopeful Bill Richardson is expected to sign a bill this week that would make it mandatory for girls in that state to be vaccinated long before nearing high school, and talk of similar laws is brewing in other states.
In plain language, these laws state: HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, and even though not every child is sexually active we want to vaccinate them anyway because we have no faith in them or their parents.
But aren't we supposed to discourage underage girls from a premature sexual lifestyle? How do we explain to them that they must receive a vaccination against a virus that they can only get from having sex, but at the same time tell them about the importance of abstinence?
Or have we just thrown in the towel and accepted that in today's time most young school girls are sexually active? It's nothing short of shameful that there exists a lobby taking the defeatist road and failing to acknowledge the fact that requiring schoolgirls who do abstain from sex before losing interest in their Barbie doll collections are being insulted and treated as untrustworthy.
We don't distribute clean needles at homeroom because, let's face it - there's a drug problem in our schools and a lack of clean needles exposes our youth to HIV. But we do shoot them up with vaccines because underage sex is sadly a more acceptable practice than drug use. We wouldn't dare consider a "safe needle program" in middle schools, but vaccines that protect the sexually active is deemed okay because it's inevitable.
Ironically, it's the liberals and champions of abortion and "Women’s Rights" that are most supportive of legislation that would require young girls to receive a vaccination with inherent medical risks (albeit smaller than the benefits) unless they or their parents take proactive steps to waive it.
Are we no longer screaming that government has "no right to our bodies" because it's a "woman's choice?" If not, tell that to the thousands of schoolgirls who will be marched into clinics next year with their sleeves rolled up without choice if they want to continue their studies.
Vaccinations should always be optional, especially those that only benefit the sexually active. Forcing everyone to be vaccinated sends the wrong message, just as handing out clean needles would be too.
Posted by Aggressive-Voice at 3:59 PM
Some nutball Democrat (Sally Lieber) in California doesn't like the discipline of "spanking" and has introduced legislation that would ban parents from doing it to their own children who are under the age of three. Unfortunately for her a new poll finds most California residents oppose the bill:
(CBS 5 / KCBS) SAN FRANCISCO Do parents have the right to spank their children? It is a controversial issue, and while a Bay Area lawmaker wants it addressed in Sacramento -- a majority of those surveyed for a new CBS 5 poll expressed opposition to a spanking ban.Not only is enforcement unclear, but so is the definition of "spanking." I cannot imagine how you would make this an objective law. Would even the slightest tap on the rear be illegal?
A poll of 500 Bay Area adults conducted for CBS 5 by Survey USA on Thursday found 57% would oppose such a bill, while only 23% would support it. The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%, showed 11% undecided.
The proposed law would make spanking a child under 3 misdemeanor child abuse, an extenstion of current corporal punishment laws.
Violators could spend a year in jail, and pay up to $1000 in fines. Enforcement is unclear.
But rather than debate how we can make this a good law, let's just scrap it all together and allow parents to raise their own kids how they see fit. What’s next: banning parents from serving dessert before Johnny eats his peas?
Give me a break.
Posted by Aggressive-Voice at 8:36 PM
Season six of 24 kicked off tonight with a two-hour premiere and will continue tomorrow with another two hours on Fox. The plot once again revolves around terrorism and a bit of political discourse was injected into the first hour as the president's cabinet debated brining back internment camps but for Muslims.
In one scene an Islamic kid was assaulted by a white neighbor after his father was arrested by the FBI for ties to terrorism. Turns out the kid himself is working for the bad guys.
More commentary after tomorrow's two episodes.
Posted by Aggressive-Voice at 11:36 PM
We can only hope the United States is still far from membership to a harmful intergovernmental organization such as the European Union whose insane overreaching social policies has claimed another victim (emphasis mine):
A MAN died after two ambulance crews could not be sent to his aid -- because they were on EU-enforced lunch breaks.No position that serves the interest of public safety should ever be tied to mandatory "rest breaks," but that is the case in countries that are members of the European Union. It is one of many policies that strap resources for the sake of uniformity across Europe and often cause more harm than good.
The victim collapsed in a betting shop, five minutes from his local ambulance station. But under the barmy European Working Time Directive, exposed by The Sun last month, crews couldn't be disturbed.
A paramedic was sent in a car and realised the unnamed man was having a heart attack. He dialled 999 but an ambulance did not arrive for half an hour. By then, the patient had died on the floor in Edmonton, North London.
Last night London Ambulance Service chiefs ordered a full probe. The EU rules -- which have angered staff -- mean crews in the capital can be called out only in the last ten minutes of their 30-minute breaks. Otherwise, they are banned from helping, even if there is a road crash outside their building.
Other UK ambulance services have chosen to opt out of the rules.
A London spokesperson said last night: "We can confirm crews were on a rest break at the time. Our sympathies are with the patient's family."
In addition to these "rest breaks" employees controlled by EU policies are limited to working 48-hours per week, even if the overtime work no longer allowed is essential to a comfortable living.
This is why I oppose the smoking bans and trans-fat bans, and whatever ban comes next week at the orders of some regulatory body that has no basis for getting involved in affairs best handled by those who are affected by them.
Yes, employees should be afforded lunch breaks during their duties, but in an effort to secure a midday rest hour the safety and wellbeing of others has been severely jeopardized.
Posted by Aggressive-Voice at 3:11 PM