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Shibboleth: the Hate Crime Amendment

A term that one culture can use or say but another can’t – so intruders can be identified by it – is a shibboleth. Hate crime is a concept that so enrages the right that only they are able to defend it.

The hate crime amendment passed in the House Thursday struck me as an exercise in use of a term that denotes followers of the hatemongers who dare not speak their names, but rush to defend their right to their atrocities – a shibboleth.

Hate crimes and hate speech have caused deaths enough, the leadership has concluded, so in order to pass an amendment raising the stakes for it included that amendment in defense appropriations, a measure sure to pass. Predictably, an enraged wingnut faction defended hate vehemently and voted against the troops rather than offend the haters.

It was instructional to listen to some of the floor debate during this rather incredible discussion. The moment enjoyed some preparation by the wingers previous to debate, as well. The word two days prior to the debate, from GOP.gov, The Website of Republicans in Congress; “Members may also have the following concerns with including hate crimes language in defense legislation. Specifically, the provision (1) raises the possibility that religious leaders or members of religious groups could be prosecuted criminally based on their speech or other protected activities; (2) creates unequal treatment of victims by treating crimes against protected groups more seriously than non-protected groups; (3) encroaches on jurisdiction traditionally reserved to the States; and (4) violates the 14th Amendment the U.S. Constitution which affords equal protection to every citizen under the law.” (Emphasis added.) Strangely, these exact words came from wingers’ mouths many times during the ‘debate’ on the floor Thursday.

For my taste, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) as usual piled up the stinkiest load of garbage speech, insisting that the amendment was the liberals’ step that “will take our troops fighting abroad and attach a gay rights agenda” and concluding “What shame is there left?” Proudly joining in the fray for hate speech were minority leader Boehner – using most of the GOP.com line – and a host of the Beck/Limbaugh sort of ragtag hate speech promoters.

The Los Angeles Times picked out a few favorites.

“We should not be doing social engineering on this bill,” Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) said.

“Shame on you,” he told Democrats.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) said that Democrats had needlessly introduced a “partisan matter in an otherwise bipartisan defense bill for our troops.”

“No member should be forced to vote for a partisan social agenda in order to provide for our troops,” he said.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) accused Democrats of hijacking the bill to “push their partisan agenda.”

It’s a division that gives all liberals a right to be proud, that we are not part of the defenders of hatred. The sad part is that there is a whole political party devoted to it.

They defend the worst in human nature. Shame on them all. They earned it.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.

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