Seeing hate where there is none

The Democrat party, now the majority in the United States Congress, has responded to the demands one of its key constituencies --"sexual minorities" -- with legislation adding people who are subject to violence because of their "sexual orientation and gender identity" to the categories of persons covered by federal hate crime law. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 has passed the House of Representatives and is on its way to the Senate, but President Bush has promised to veto it.

One of the problems with the legislation is that the new categories are not clearly defined. For example, the reference to "actual or perceived…gender identity" in the legislation is an effort to cover persons classified as transgender, transsexual, and transvestite, conditions that have been classified as psychological disorders.

Those pushing for the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to protected categories insist that they are normal variants -- part of human sexual diversity. Others see these "variants" as deviations from the normal and evidence of underlying psychological disorders.

It is true that the American Psychiatric Association decided that "homosexuality per se" is not a sign of mental illness; however, subsequent research has found that persons with same-sex attractions (SSA) are more likely than the general public to suffer from a host of psychological problems. Four large well designed studies* found significantly higher rates of diagnosed psychological disorders among persons with SSA.

No one should be mean to the mentally ill, but when people suffer from mental illness they often interpret ordinary differences of opinion as personal attacks. By including sexual orientation and gender identity in the hate crimes legislation Congress would open the door for mentally ill persons to claim they are victims of intimidation or "hate" every time someone disagrees with them or opposes their political demands.

Gay activists consistently accuse their opponents of bigotry, discrimination, homophobia, heterosexism and hate. While it is possible that this is merely a tactic, it is also possible that at least some gay activists sincerely believe that those who uphold traditional religious teachings do have hatred in their hearts. The promotion of such thinking by federal legislation would only encourage those with psychological disorders to feel threatened even when no real threat exists.

There have already been instance of persons with SSA faking attacks and claiming they were victims of hate crimes. Consider the following cases:

• A Tamalpais High School student claimed she was pelted with eggs, had her locker and car vandalized, and has been flooded with handmade hate messages. The words "Die Fag" were spray painted on her school's wall. The school's students, teachers, and administrators responded with for an anti-hate vigil. Later the lesbian "victim" admitted to police that she faked the incidents to garner attention.

• Alex McGillis, a homosexual Boise State University (BSU) student told police in January an unidentified man beat him from behind with an object while shouting anti-"gay" epithets. Student and administration organizations organized a ‘No Oppression Tolerated, Not on Our Campus’ rally. He later confessed that his "hate crime" was a hoax and that he had used a stick and his own fists to injure himself.

• In introducing the hate crimes legislation Rep. John Conyer’s (D-Mich.) cited the death of 72-year-old homosexual Andrew Anthos in Detroit. Homosexual activists asserted that an unidentified African-American man called Anthos a "faggot" and struck him in the back of the head with a metal pipe, ultimately killing him. Investigators later determined that Anthos’ death was the result of an accidental fall brought on by severe arthritis in his neck. Anthos had also been diagnosed with mental illness and originally told police that he did not know how he was injured. He changed his story a week later to suggest that he was the victim of a "hate crime".

• At the University of Georgia in 1998, the door of resident advisor Jerry Kennedy was set on fire three times. Of the 15 hate crimes reported since 1995 at the school, Kennedy had reported 9, including the three fires, threatening phone calls and incidents of criminal trespassing. After a police investigation, Kennedy was arrested and charged with two counts of arson and four false reports of a crime, and a student who had been suspected of setting one of the fires was exonerated.

The kindest construction one can put on these episodes is that the perpetrators are suffering from a mental illness which impaired their judgment.

There are other problems with hate crime legislation. Persons with SSA are more likely to abuse alcohol, use illegal drugs, have sexual relations with strangers and/or in public places, and engage in prostitution. Those who choose these behaviors are more likely to be victims of crime than those who do not do these things. That does not mean that criminals hate persons with SSA, only that certain behaviors make a person more vulnerable to crime than others.

The tragic death of Matthew Shepard in 1998 is often cited as the reason for extending "hate crimes" protection to sexual minorities. He was a homosexual at the University of Wyoming who was savagely beaten and left to die by two thugs. However, his killers insist that they held no particular prejudice toward gays; rather they were high on methamphetamine and their aim was robbery.

Legislation which not only asks law enforcement to determine if a crime was committed, but which requires them to launch a separate investigation if the victim felt "hate" opens the proverbial can of worms. As Michael Bailey informs us in his book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, pre and post-operative transsexual males who are sexually attracted to men, frequently engage in prostitution, often without informing their clients that they are male. This can lead to a violent confrontation. Is this a "hate" crime? A man on crystal meth goes off with a stranger to have sex and the stranger robs him. Is this a "hate" crime?

Isn’t it better simply to prosecute the crime and not worry about what the perpetrator was thinking?

Dale O'Leary is a writer with a special interest in psycho-sexual issues. She is author of a soon-to-be-published book from Sophia Institute Press on marriage.


* David Ferguson et al, "Is sexual orientation related to mental health problems and suicidality in young people?" Archives of General Psychiatry, 1999, 56 (10), 876-888; Richard Herrell et al, "A co-twin control study in adult men: Sexual orientation and suicidality." Archives of general Psychiatry, 1999, 56 (10), 867-874; Susan Cochran & Vicki Mays, "Lifetime prevalence of suicide symptoms and affective disorders among men reporting same-sex sexual partners: Results from NHANES III," American Journal of Public Health, 2000, Vol.90 (4), 537-578; Theo Sandfort et al, "Same-sex Sexual Behaviour and Psychiatric Disorders: Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (Nemisis)," Archives of General Psychiatry, 2001, 58, 85-91.


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