Kathleen Parker concern trolls on behalf of homophobic Christian ministers:
When whites lynched blacks with the tacit approval of the state, the entire African American community was terrorized. No one can pretend otherwise. It is this immeasurable horror that hate-crimes laws attempt to address by adding another layer of punishment to the primary crime.
What fair-minded person could object? On the other hand, how do we read the minds of our worst actors? Is it possible to say conclusively that these killers were motivated by hate to the exclusion of other potentially confounding factors?
These are legitimate questions that deserve rational debate without the dueling rants of hyperbole and outrage. Ultimately, that debate leads to free-speech issues — especially religious speech — and the real crux of the opposition.
Some conservative groups worry that hate-crimes laws might lead to restrictions on churches or other religious organizations' freedom to quote Scripture that might be deemed hateful toward gays. Might a passionate preacher's invocation of, say, Leviticus 20:13, which condemns homosexual behavior, be interpreted as conspiracy to commit a hate crime?
In fact, the legislation applies when a physical assault or attempted murder takes place. And, so far, the First Amendment still protects the rights of even the Rev. Fred Phelps to take his "God Hates Fags" show on the road.
But in a country where eating Twinkies can be a defense for murder — and a Miss USA contestant can be publicly denounced as a "dumb bitch" for saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman — stranger things are sure to happen.
As an operating principle, meanwhile, it seems wiser to hear and see the haters rather than criminalize their thoughts and banish them to the underground where their demons can fester and where no law can breach their purpose
There's a neat collection of straightforward fallacies here. In the first place, there is the oft-repeated objection that bias crimes involve an impossible form of "mind reading." That is just dumb. "Intentional murder" involves mind reading.
Second, that the existence of hate crimes laws will ultimately (that's the word that indicates the bottom of the slippery slope–here a fallacious one) inhibit religious speech is just crazy. Hate crimes laws, as the very name makes clear, involve crimes. Click here for the FBI page on hate crimes.
That–the alleged slope–completes the red herring–the bait and switch. For the initial point of the piece regarded including crimes against homosexuals (and others) in hate crimes laws. Including them seems perfectly reasonable. It has nothing to do, as Parker even seems to admit without realizing it, with people's "thoughts" (taken by themselves). Non-existent restrictions on free speech, in other words, are not the issue at all. On account of that obvious fact, we don't need to worry about "criminalizing" anyone's thoughts.
Finally, it's ludicrous (and just plain baffling) to group the (not actually real) "Twinkie defense" (supposedly used to justify the murder of Harvey Milk and George Moscone in San Francisco) and the completely reasonable negative public reaction to a beauty contest's lame and ignorant defense of opposite marriage. She made a contentious point about what rights certain people should have–many have objected to her reasoning. She's a public figure and ought to expect that.
One more thing, however, about the murderer of Harvey Milk. The jury, reading the defendents mind, found him unable to have engaged in premeditated murder on account of diminished mental capacity.