Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hate Crimes Bill Hits the Floor

I was going to wait until the vote was in, and from the look of things on C-SPAN right now it's going to be a while until the vote on the bill itself takes place. So far there's been a flurry of discussion on various amendments that Republicans wanted to make, followed by a couple of votes on procedures and rules. The general debate has just begun (btw...John Conyers really needs to stick to writing his opinions rather than reading them. It's been painful to sit and listen to him, even though I'm on his side, lol.), and there are a few things I haven't talked about concerning this bill that have been brought up this morning on the House floor and in related interviews that C-SPAN has shown.

First, those opposed to this bill have attempted to prove that the lives of certain groups are being held as more valuable to the lives of ordinary citizens (ie...grandmothers, pregnant women, etc) who are victims of violent crime. This has been batted around extensively, and something I wish the proponents had brought up was that the bill does not and will not preclude any prosecutorial body from imposing the "special circumstances" provision available for crimes of a heinous nature. The bill will aid local officials in investigating and prosecuting crimes deemed to be hate related as opposed to random acts of violence. The latter can still be prosecuted with stiffer penalties using the existing provisions.

Second, proponents of the bill have tried virtually everything to convince religious advocacy groups, private citizens and fellow lawmakers that this bill does not and will not infringe on anyone's freedom of written or verbal expression. Honestly, I don't know how else to say it...the language in the bill is clear, as a specific first amendment provision was included to avoid any conflict. Various religious groups have come up with some very creative, yet hypothetical, situations in which a member of the clergy is jailed or otherwise impugned because of what they said from the pulpit. No religious leader has been able to substantiate these worries with any actual event that occurred in this country. Instead, they have brought up examples from other countries (including some countries which have never protected the speech of any of its citizens) as their basis for attacking this legislation. All I can say is...READ THE BILL!!

Finally, the Congressional Quarterly has reported (via C-SPAN and reporter Keith Perine) that President Bush has already signaled his intention to veto this bill should it make it to his desk. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as Dear Leader's sanity is seriously in question. Apparently, the dementia is affecting his ability to read a bill as well. Either that, or he's truly giving in to the pressure from the various religious groups who used to love him more than they do now.

**Insert exaggerated sigh here**

I'll update this post once the vote is in.


The bill has passed the House vote (237-180), so we just have to wait and see if Bash...I mean Bush, lol, will be pulling out his veto pen again this week. No vetoes in 6 two in one week? Unbelievable!

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