What if hate crimes got equal coverage? (Prop 8 and/as hate crime)

HR 1592, or the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” is the 2007 legislation sponsored by John Conyers that constitutes hate crime a federal offense.  The legislation defines hate crimes as “a violent act causing death or bodily injury because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability of the victim.” The bill does not rank the motiviations for commiting such crimes. However, according to recent coverage of Prop 8 in San Diego, the SD news media ranks crimes based on actual or perceived religious belief as WORSE than crimes based on actual or perceived sexuality.

For example, notice that in this story, violence against a Yes on 8 person is foregrounded in the headline and the opening. The story notes that:

Proposition 8 supporters, who are fighting to overturn gay marriage in California by changing language in the state Constitution, describe …”a wave of intimidation and violence up and down the state.”

According to Chip White, Californians from around the state have reported being harassed by people who are against Prop. 8. Among the incidents he related were: verbal harassment of Prop.8 supporters on the freeway, including obscene gestures; the theft of yard signs; and a woman in Riverside, California who had her garage sprayed with graffiti. [Catholic News Agency]

Notice there is no mention of a “wave of intimidation and violence” against No on 8 supporters. Notice also there is no quote from any agency that places violence against No on 8 as just as, if not more, ubiquitous. Notice also that the DAILY violence, harassment, and intimidation targeted at the LGBTQA community are given no mention. Rather, violence against the No on 8 community is framed as a “teen prank” via the fact that the ONLY story we are given about violence against No on 8 is as follows: “it was reported that a neighborhood teenager burned No on 8 yard signs. The teenager was taken into custody for a 72-hour psychological evaluation.”

In this story, about the march in West Hollywood, the choice of words such as “snarling” and “noisy” is telling, as is the fact the story finds it necessary to point out that “The event did not have a permit or approved march route.” The story also covers arrests and incidents of violence while failing to focus on the more positive messages of togetherness and equality that the march conveyed. Moreover, the story capitalizes on spreading hate, making a point to include a comment where a gay man blames African-American and Latino voters for 8’s win. (For a great post on this ‘blame the blacks’ trend, see Womanist Musings here.) And, yet again, the violence against the Yes on 8 crowd is framed as far worse than against the No on 8 crowd. Or, as this story tells it, Yes on 8 people throw eggs, while No on 8 people surround cars, rip up signs, and beat people.

Another story, from San Diego’s North County Times, reported the burning of a Baptist church in Vista. The fire is being treated as a suspected hate crime. Michael Hoffman, the spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is reported to refer to “heated confrontations between supporters and opponents of Proposition 8 down the street from the church in the weeks before the fire.” And, while “Authorities have no suspects or motives in the case,” the story clearly points the finger at someone opposing Prop 8. Television coverage of the same event at San Diego’s NBC news (channel 7) suggested the church burning was a vendetta carried out by a No on 8 supporter although there is NO EVIDENCE to suggest this is the case. Local San Diego activist Jennifer Schumaker responded to the story as follows: “We’ve been ignored, and now they are going to try to highlight anything that even LOOKS like it might be vengeful and point to us, evidence or not!”

Here is yet another story of No on 8 supporters committing violence. Yet, when I searched for stories detailing violence against No on 8 supporters with the phrase “violence against No on 8 supporters” what came up was stories about the No on 8 side supposedly calling for violence against Yes on 8 supporters! Stories such as “‘Gays” Call for Violence Against Christian Supporters of Prop 8″ (here) insinuate that all the violence and hatred is coming from the No on 8 side and, in particular, frame No on 8 supporters as perpetuating hate crime.

In these and so many other examples, the No on 8ers are framed as committing hate crimes. Yet, hate crimes against the LGBTQA community are rendered invisible and/or framed as relatively harmless (i.e. as ‘egg throwing’ and taking signs).

Another way these stories are being framed in the media paints No on 8 supporters as anti-religion and, in many cases, as perpetuating and even calling for hate crimes based on religious bias.  Interestingly, the number of religious bias hate crimes and sexuality biased hate crimes were almost equal in 2007 accoring do the FBI’s hate crime statistics. Or, more specifically, there were 1,477 religious bias hate crimes reported, and 1460 sexuality bias crimes reported. Yet, if one gets their news from the MSM, it would seem as if those in the LGBTQA community are only perpetuators of crime rather than victims of it.

In fact, some who opposed HR 1592, the hate crimes prevention act, did so via claiming that ‘elevating’ homosexuality to the level of ‘normal’ would pose a danger to race equity and freedom of religion! For example, a senator from North Carolina urged the congress to oppose the act claiming that HR 1592 would:

*Elevate homosexuality and cross-dressing behaviors such as drag queens, transsexualism, she-males, etc. to the status of federally-protected minorities. These behaviors will be considered equal to race under the federal law.

• Fund anti-Christian curriculum for children K-12, through the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to promote homosexuality and cross-dressing as normal behaviors

Oh, the horror! Making homophobia on par with racism???? Teaching that homosexuality is NORMAL? What is this world coming to?!? Wow, with senators like these, maybe we should renaim the USofA, the HSofA – or the Homophobic States of America.

To find stories of the violence and attacks against No on 8ers, one must go outside the MSI (mainstream internet) and look to more progressive cites and blogs. To find stories of all the positive work being done AFTER Prop 8 passed, including marches, rallies, candlelight vigils, etc, one must also go beyond the right wing, biased news sources such as NBC, The North County Times, and The San Diego Union Tribune.

For coverage of the march that took place in San Diego today, which drew thousands of No on 8 supporters, see here (note that while this story puts the number of marchers at 2,000, other sources report the number was closer to 10,000).

If you would like to take action to support No on 8 or to make your voice heard regarding media bias, here are a few options:

  1. Go to www.InvalidateProp8.org and donate to the legal fight to overturn the proposition.
  2. Write to President Elect Barak Obama and encourage him to support, in word and deed, full equality (including marriage equality!) for LGBTQ folks.
  3. Read and sign the petition to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calling him not to allow Prop 8 to pass into law. (This petition debunks a bunch of the myths/lies spread by the Yes on 8 camp.)
  4. Thank the Los Angeles Mayor for his support of No on 8.
  5. Review the petition to remove the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church here. Whether or not you agree that their tax-exempt status should be removed, the petition is worth taking a look at for the arguments it makes regarding the fact that organizations with such status cannot focus their activities on influencing legislation.
  6. Call NBC San Diego at (619) 231-3939 to complain about their biased news coverage of Prop 8.
  7. Visit Queers United here for a listing of upcoming protests and rallies. Get out your rainbow and go support No on 8!
  8. Go to one of the nationwide protests against Prop 8 on Saturday, November 15. To find an event in your area, see this post for more info.

If you wish to read more about homophobia and hate crimes, a good source is Beyond Homophobia, a website maintained by Gregory Heck editor of Hate Crimes Confronting Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men. Also, in case there are any HDP’s (heterosexual privilege deniers) reading this post, I encourage you to read the “Heterosexual Privilege Checklist” here.

Proposition 8 in and of itself comes all to close to being a hate crime. While it may not directly cause “death or bodily injury” to LGBTQ folks, it most certainly will indirectly do so. The LGBTQ community already has a high suicide rate, depression rate, and poverty rate. Might not legislating further disenfranchisement exacerbate all of these? Might Prop 8 not also suggest that it is ok to be homophobic? Or to take it further, that it is ok to commit hateful acts (sometimes violent) against this “dangerous” group that “threatens” religious traditions? Prop 8 is not only unfair and wrong, but its passage, if you ask me, would be a hate crime carried out by the government of California and endorsed by 52% of voters. Scary.


7 thoughts on “What if hate crimes got equal coverage? (Prop 8 and/as hate crime)”

  1. While HR 1592 passed in the house, the senate version did not. the bill never took affect.

    Additionally, Christian groups are against hate crime laws, calling it unconstitutional.

  2. Wow, are you serious? Everywhere I read about it referred to it as passing! Thanks for alerting me to this.

    What Christian groups are you referring to?

  3. Concerned Women For America, Culture & Media Institute, Americans For Truth, The AFA, The TVC…

    In fact, I even have tape of them saying hate crimes laws are unconstitutional somewhere on my blog thingie.

    Featuring a veto, the Senate added it’s version to a defense authorization bill. However, Republicans threatened not vote for the defense bill, so the Democrats capitulated and sent the Hate crimes amendment back to committee.

    It was never re-introduced this year mostly because of the election.

  4. Longtime activist and founder of Critical Resistance, who better than to lead the department of justice? Plus, how cool to have a former member of the “FBI’s most wanted” list as Attorney General!

    Wow…sounds like a hate crime waiting to happen.

  5. Why the 6000 year is historically established natural rights of married couples, an institution who has proved beyond a doubt of it benefit, great purpose and excellence being trampled on by a few hypo sexed gay and lesbian couples. For over 6000 years marriage between and man and a woman who have produce millions of human beings, to include the current and next generation of human beings that are presently being attacked by irrationally hypo sexed biologically unproductive same sex activist gay and lesbian couples who are manifesting a complete absurd demand for same sex marriage. The measure of anything in human society is done by its benefit or harm done. So what is the benefit of Same Sex Marriage of gay and lesbian couples? That same sex couples can have a word called marriage attached to sexual activities that does more harm than good.
    1. Morally: it is beyond the pale of sanity, orderliness, world religions at large and the findings of cultural anthropology. Historically social unrest is the primary result of the promotion of morally unacceptable gay and lesbian sexual activity when it becomes common within the boundaries of human cultures. Religiously, the greater religions of Christianity and Islam show a stern ban on same sex marriages. Judaism however appears to be split in its acceptance. Many other lesser religions such a Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism appear to be neutral in neither accepting nor rejecting same sex marriages.
    2. Scientifically: it sounds impractical, unreasonable, and incoherent. Neither the Biological, Chemical, Medical or Psychological sciences have seen the significant benefits of gay and lesbian marriage. The principles applied in Biology are that which is sustainable and natural. In the Chemical sciences promotes that which is most beneficial towards human development in technology, medicine and daily life. In the Medical sciences, that which does the least Harm and promotes the most good. Finally in the psychological sciences it promotes that which makes humans most cohesive to providing a behavior that promotes a cohesive social good.
    3. Biologically: the behaviors engaged by gay and lesbian couples are not naturally, nor physiologically compatible nor conducive for human productivity and child rearing. Obviously gay and lesbian married couples cannot among themselves even possible conceive children. They are not only incapable of the production of children, and they are socially incapable of rearing. Same sex males cannot nurse children with regular breast milk. The raising of boys within a lesbian marriage would inhibit the natural development of a non gay male psychologically. It is difficult for a single mother in a heterosexual marriage on her own to raise boy properly (look at the neglect of boy in single parent non male household.) For example look at the number of records of juveniles who are now ex gang members now serving time in America’s prison system.
    4. Medically: gay and lesbian same sex married couples are the cause of an upswing of horrid diseases that are destroying the health and welfare of many humans introducing those disease to children, as a result of the promotion of unhealthy sexual behavior which is tantamount to child abuse. Furthermore since the testing of human beings on the scale of the excessive harm of Russian psychotherapy, the insane German medical practices in WWII concentration camps, testing how children would develop in such a new form of human development should also be deemed inhuman. For it is barely proper to use animals for many medical test, are we now going to test babies and children to see if they will develop normally in same sex marriages. The fact that gay and lesbians same sex marriage would exist would enable those couples to adopt psychologically non-gay/lesbian children and raise them in an environment that would be normally harmful if children were raised in abusive heterosexual marriage couples.
    5. Developmentally: gays and lesbians same sex married couples are harmful for the natural physiological and social development of children and adults. In that gay and lesbian same sex marriage would promote a life style that may be incompatible with the child’s natural sexual orientation. If the Childs development is abused by the same sex married couple – when would child protective service engage the protection of the child, and would the gay and lesbian married couple be imprisoned for causing harm to the child. If the number of abused children in same sex marriage were found, and the Child Protection Agency did not protect those children, would the State be open for lawsuits by those children, for allowing the adoptions to occur in the first place.
    6. Socially: gay and lesbians same sex married couples do not promote vital relations within the maximums of human social structures, but are isolated because the vast cultural disinterest in gay and lesbian same sex marriage is not tolerated, nor reasonable with the promotion of natural family development. Since this the fact, legalizing Gay and or Lesbian same sex marriage, will only cause more harm to the cohesive interaction of adults who reside within the limitations of a State. Non cohesive social interaction has already shown it ugly head by the vast amount of gay and lesbian protest marches being launched through out the United States. Observers has seen excessive misdemeanor and even life threatening groups of gay protestors, forcing police action to remove non gay citizens from the protest area. Stronger opinions, will serve little in the way of social cohesion and law makers who promote the disintegration of social cohesion should be considered responsible for promoting unrest and excessive civil disobedience. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently liable for promoting civil unrest, while additionally showing his incapacity of maintaining fiscal balance in the State of California. Such behavior within private organizations demands a removal of such an irresponsible representative.
    7. Individually: gay and lesbian activist do not behave as cohesive adults with the rest of civilization. Because gay and lesbian activist demonstrate publicly what the rest of the human family does privately their can be no cohesiveness between gay/lesbian (so-called adults) and culturally consistent adult behavior.
    8. Politically: gays are always at the forefront of anti human organizations that cause much harm globally to states, religions, families, children and the human race at large. Creating harm is scientifically, medically, politically, and economically unreasonable and in the cases of such harm that is caused, in all other avenues of human life, that which creates harm must be isolated and eventually terminated.
    9. Economically: it is unsound for the positive growth of the State of California, or any State or country. Same sex marriages cannot and will not promote anything but their own self interest, of which is to maximize the activities of unproductive sex. Same sex marriages are unproductive in that it has little interest in the promotion of human development, moral directives for proper mental development, and socially cohesive development within the human society.
    10. In that it Same sex marriage is unscientific, biologically incompatible, medically unhealthy, developmentally harmful to children, socially nonfunctional, individually in cohesive, politically anti-human, and economically unsound demonstrates that it only has it self interest in mind, and is does not function effectively within the world of human adults, families, kin, and organization.

    Just what is it that we as a State for that matter a Country talk about when it comes to the legal marriage rights of same sex couples?
    It is only ignorance of, or, in some “angry get even” cases that there is this unreasonable demand to promote a political an intention to destroy Marriage between a Man and a Woman.
    Gay and Lesbians same sex marriage couples have shown themselves to be NOT: Morally reasonable; scientifically beneficial; biologically consistent with nature; medically directed toward healthiness; developmentally improving the human condition; socially functional within human structures; individually an adjunct to universal adult behavior; politically justified legally in considerations of all the above; and economically sound in principle. The over abundance of proof religiously, scientifically and socially is against the acceptance of same sex marriage.
    Legalizing same sex marriage will only cause more civil unrest between the two positions pro and con. The cause of “Civil unrest in California between the two factions” is now is in the hands of the current Governor of California. It was wrong for the Governor to step beyond his authority and promote the Post Proposition 8 legal challenges. It will be on his head if civil unrest begins, in fact has already begun with the threatening of individual lives by the gay and lesbian communities throughout California. If the Supreme Court does not identify the significant Harm done, then the Court itself will also be responsible for the very prospects of causing harm.

  6. The comment from T-Lewis is such an absolute load of crap I don’t even know where to begin. According to her/him the world is in danger due to “irrationally hypo sexed biologically unproductive same sex activist gay and lesbian couples.” As for all the claims that non-hetero relations cause harm, civil unrest, and are immoral, well, all of these are coming from a place of discrimination and bigotry. There is a sustained attempt to sound intellectual, yet no support or citations whatsoever to back up these preposterous claims. And, I have no idea what is going on with the inconsistent capitalization! Maybe the above comment should be put through one of those nifty tools that assesses the writer — I think the conclusion would be as follows: “This writer is a homophobic asshole with a pompous style of writing that, for all its high-falutin pretense, is riddled with errors, unsubstantiated claims, and downright lies. The writer is most likely a white, male, able-bodied, religious, right-wing American citizen whose own marriage is based on the violence/control wheel.”

  7. Right on! It is hate-filled bigots like these who are the sickness of our society. This coming from a heterosexual, married, mother of two very healthy individuals…

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