28 October 2009
The Hate Crimes Law
I'm supposed to be happy that Obama signed the so-called "Hate Crimes Bill" into law today.
And I guess I'm supposed to vote for Obama when he runs for re-election.
Essentially, that's one of the reasons why he signed it: He figured that he'd get our votes that way. I wonder how many in the LGBT community will forget that he opposed gay marriage. Not that I think that winning that "right" will put gays on an equal footing with straight people: I think that marriage is none of any government's business. If people want to marry in their religious institutions, that's fine. But I don't think that a government--especially in a country that's supposed to have a separation between church and state--should have the power to decide who's married and who isn't. If they absolutely must be involved, they should just grant civil unions to everyone, and it shouldn't bring tax benefits with it.
All right, you're saying to yourself, she's not married and probably never will be. Point taken. Still, I think that in a secular country, a government should not be sanctifying marriage--or any other relationship between two or more people. That's, in essence, what it does with its policies on taxes and in many other areas.
For that matter, I don't think singlehood should have special privileges or status, either. No government ever forced me to get married, or to be single. Nor has this government forced anyone else into it. People who get married aren't veterans who were drafted into service. As much as I abhor war, I think that they're one of the few groups that should receive special benefits and tax breaks.
Anyway...Given that he opposed gay marriage at the same time Dick Cheney voiced his support of it, I think Obama is being more than a little hypocritical.
Plus, the Hate Crimes Bill is really a law that was added to a military-spending appropriation bill. Most people would see military spending and gay rights as almost polar opposites. But when you realize that the bill really isn't about gay rights, or any other sort of concern for LGBT people, you realize that it's just another way for the Federal government to expand its powers. And, of course, military spending is to government power as heroin is to an addict.
The fact that gay- and tranny-bashing are now, at least according to the letter of the law, Federal crimes will not stop them from happening. Nor will more zealous prosecution or "tougher" sentencing. Such things might stop someone who's thought about robbing banks, but it's not going to curb hate. In fact, if anything, I think that the so-called Hate Crimes Bill just might lead to more "hate crimes."
Think about it: Some person or group who hates gays (and probably lots of other people) can seem like a martyr to himself, or to his group, because he is dealt with more harshly than some other criminal because his victim happened to be LGBT. On a smaller scale, that's no different than the US going to war against Islamic countries that already view us as The Great Satan. Not only will they hate us even more; they will also feel all the more justified in seeing us as demons. And that will give young men with nothing to lose but their belief that 72 virgins are waiting for them in the afterlife all the more rationale for fighting a jihad against us.
Now, of course, I can't blame Obama for the fact that the law was attached to a military spending bill. Or maybe I could. After all, I don't think he's seen any kind of military spending that he didn't like. And look at how he's expanded this country's military involvement with Afghanistan. Does the man read history? Twenty years ago, the Russians, who were just over the border, sent in five times as many troops as we're ready to commit. And they couldn't mold Afghanistan to their will. What makes him think we can do it?
But back to what the law can't accomplish: It won't stop people from committing those crimes because it can't stamp out the hatred that leads to the crimes. And, really, how much can any law help a community--I'm talking about transgenders now--of whom 35 percent are unemployed and 59 percent make less than $15,300 in San Francisco. Let's face it: If you don't have a job, or some other legitimate source of income, you don't have power in this society. And that makes it that much harder to dispel the idea that we're freaks and, if we are working, it's in the sex industry.
Maybe I'm wrong and Obama meant well and this will actually help us. If things turn out that way, well...according to scientific principles, bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly. I don't think that any scientist who's ever opened a jar of honey minds being wrong about that. "If this be error and upon me be proved..."
For now, it hasn't been.