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“Some People” Hate the Hate Crime Bill

Reported by Chrish - May 6, 2007 -

NOTE: Guest blogged by Priscilla

The Federal hate crime bill, which was passed by the US House of Representatives last Thursday, was a topic for discussion on the Big Story. This bill extends coverage to those who are victims of crime based on sexual orientation, gender identification, or disability.

As noted by the Chicago Tribune, “federal laws against certain categories of hate crimes have been on the books since 1969, and now cover cases where people or property are targeted on grounds of race, religion, color or national origin. The House measure would add sexual orientation, gender and gender identity and disability to the list. It also budgets $10 million over the next two years to supplement local authorities in prosecuting of hate crimes, and allows federal officials to participate in investigations.”

The legislation was a topic for Banderas' legal panel, consisting of Mercedes Colwin and Paul Cowan. The chyron read “mixed emotions over bill to expand law.” In introducing the segment, Banderas noted that, if passed, the bill would “better protect gays from such crimes” with a heavy verbal emphasis on the word “gays.” She also noted that opposition comes from the “staunchest” conservatives who believe that the bill would “segregate people into different groups.” (Comment: the “opposition” would seem to describe the Fox audience.)

Mercedes Colwin explained that those in alternative life styles do need protection as they are 40% more likely to be victims of hate crimes. Banderas then said that “some conservative religious groups say the bill would make criminals of clergymen (Comment: what about clergy women!) and it therefore shouldn’t be passed. The chyron was just so Fox as it read “Some say it uses different standards to punish “offenders”.” (The use of quotes around “offenders” is interesting.)

Paul Cowan commented that there is a fear that clergymen, who speak out against homosexuality, could be prosecuted. He then accused Colwin of presenting bogus statistics to which she responded that the FBI has determined that 16% of hate crimes are directed toward those with alternate lifestyles. Cowan said that this bill would provide “extra protection” for certain groups.

To Banderas' credit, she mentioned that the brutal murders of James Byrd and Matthew Shepherd were part of the argument in favor of the bill. But as time was up there was no further discussion.

Comment: While the discussion fit the definition of “fair and balanced,” Banderas' presentation and the chyrons would seem to reveal Fox’s take on the issue and what they want to reinforce in the minds of their “staunch conservative” viewers – that gays want special rights. The Senate bill is coming up for a vote next week and it is expected to pass. President Bush has already signaled that he will veto it. It will be interesting to see how Fox will spin the issue for the “values” crowd.

NOTE: Guest blogged by Priscilla