No More Equal Protection
By Bob Weir
It’s known as HR 1592 or the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. It authorizes the US Attorney General to provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime of violence under federal law or a felony under state, local, or Indian tribal law that is motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim or is a violation of the state, local, or tribal hate crime laws. Phew!
In simple terms, this law, recently passed by the House of Representatives and awaiting a Senate vote, would give special consideration to crimes committed against certain classifications of people. Hence, if A slugs B during a fight in a bar, the responding police officer may have to determine not merely the level of offense of the assault if it had been committed against the average person, but the special qualifications of the victim, in order to determine the proper charge against the defendant.
A typical scenario might be as follows: The officer, after placing handcuffs on the defendant, is speaking to the victim.
“Sir, could you answer a few questions for me? When the defendant was punching you, did he at any time mention your country of origin or what religion you practice?”
Victim: “Well, no, we were arguing about the football game and he shoved me. That led to a pushing match just before he socked me in the nose.”
Officer: “I see. But, how about during the argument; did he make any references to your sexual orientation?”
Victim: “Certainly not! What would make you ask such a question?”
Officer: “Because I need to know the severity of the crime. Now, have you ever been a woman?”
“What? I don’t understand what you mean.”
“Sir, I’m trying to establish if you’ve ever had a sex change operation because if you did and he referred to it during the fight, then we can nail him.”
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing!”
“I’m just doing my job, sir. If this guy used any language that could be interpreted as prejudicial, I can charge him with a much more serious crime.”
“Officer, all he did was call me an SOB before he hit me with a left hook.”
“Aha! Then he made a slur against your mother, and, since your mother is a woman, he was making disparaging remarks based on gender. I think we have enough here to throw the book at him.”
The foregoing scenario may seem ludicrous, but there was a time when the use of 4-letter words in Hollywood-produced movies was thought of as unimaginable. We are living in a very strange era. People are invading our country, thumbing their noses at our laws and calling us bigots because we criticize their behavior. The correct term for them is “illegal aliens,” yet, we are being instructed to call them “undocumented workers” because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
Okay, so a guy is arrested after breaking into your home and walking out with your TV. We don’t want to hurt his feelings by calling him a burglar, so we charge him with being an uninvited visitor in possession of property for which he has no receipt. When an invader is caught sneaking across the border, his is usually just sent back to try again. In the home invasion example, the burglar would be caught, the property would be returned to the owner and the crook would be released. He could continue breaking into the house and stealing property until he could do so without being caught.
Burglary of residences, like invasion of countries, could become an acquired skill, continuously improved by repetition. After all, if the only penalty for a crime is to be nabbed and sent back to the starting gate, one only needs to replicate the action until adept enough to succeed. It’s painfully evident that people have become incredibly proficient at breaking into our country. Why shouldn’t they? They’ve had plenty of practice.
If the Hate Crime legislation becomes law, those of us who are not in one of the privileged classifications will simply have less protection from predators. Moreover, using the term, “illegal alien” might become an adjunct to the new law, making such an utterance a hate crime. Home owners near the border tempted to resist trespassers making their way to the nearest big city had better be on their best behavior in speaking to their uninvited visitors.
Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob.