Bush to veto hate crime bill expansion that would include gender and sexual orientation crimes

The Democrats want to expand US hate crime legislation to include crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity and those women things, but Bush will veto it because such protection is "unnecessary".

First, let me criticize my supposed allies. In every report I’ve read of this, it’s all about gay rights. In other words, knowing how people here default, it’s all about the menz. That this bill would say something about hate crimes based on gender is just mentioned in passing. There’s been research into how many crimes are motivated by hatred of the GLBT communities, but no research into how often rape, murder and domestic abuse are motivated not by dislike of one woman, but by hatred of women as a group.

Because it’s understandable men would hate women. Isn’t it? Sure it is! Even attraction between genders is referred to as "sexual tension". It’s a naturally adversarial relationship. That’s why the Hallmark cards and Valentine’s flowers are so important: to give people the illusion that male/female sexual relationships are nice and sweet even though most people still accept the romantic model in which an aggressor (the Man) wins a prize (that woman thing).

Now let’s move onto the White House. Guess what their big issue with the bill is? They think if a church congregation member goes on a gay-bashing mission, his minister who preached against homosexuals might be charged, too.

There’s a simple solution from Jesus here: you could preach against homosexuality instead of against homosexuals. That’s how they did it when I was a kid going to an American Baptist church. I don’t know if y’all stopped-reading-after-the-Old-Testament fundie Christians have heard, but there was this Jesus guy who advocated hating the sin, not the sinner. Additionally, we believed that adultery – a sin that actually rated mention in the Ten Commandments, unlike homosexuality – was a lot more prevalent than homosexuality among congregation members, so maybe that should be an item of higher concern on our moral agenda.

Of course, the part of the bill that applies to women is doesn’t even merit a response from the White House. No one is talking about this. Not the press, not the White House. It’s just not important.

Yes, I do realize it’s possible the bill is written poorly. I also realize that to privileged people, it appears hate crime legislation gives "minorities" more rights than the dominant groups. Ideally, every crime should get the same treatment, regardless of the perpetrator’s motive (group hate, individual hate, drunkenness, whatever). But hate crime legislation was passed in part because that wasn’t happening. Because judges and juries were excusing, for example, good ol’ white boys for beating up on blacks while throwing the book at blacks so much as accused of a crime without evidence. Like affirmative action, it sounds unfair on the surface, but it’s a correction to an ongoing unfairness within the law.

In modern day, I will go so far as to assert there is no greater shortcoming in our legal system than its inability to deal with rape. This inability springs entirely from a bogus conviction that rape is a normal hazard of inter-gender relationships and the law shouldn’t be expected to try to do anything about it. Would hate crime legislation change this in any way? Quite possibly not.

But what bothers me is that nobody’s talking about it. We accept misogyny as a fact of life.


  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    From the article:

    First, let me criticize my supposed allies. In every report I’ve read of this, it’s all about gay rights. In other words, knowing how people here default, it’s all about the menz.

    I wasn’t talking about the opposition – I get why they’re sticking to the anti-gay arguments. I was talking about the critics of the veto – the people who agree with me that it deserves to be passed – harping on exclusively about gay rights and gay protections, and only mentioning in passing that “oh, yeah, and it would protect women, too”.

    Um, we’ve known for some time that a lot of serial killers and serial rapists of women were motivated by serious hate for women. And yet we’re just now acknowledging that there might be such a thing as hate crimes against women.

    And frankly, I think women are probably loathe to admit there’s enough misogyny out there to account for a lot of rapes, abuses and killings of women. It’s much more comfortable to rationalize it as something between ONE man and ONE woman (at a time), because then you have the illusion of some control: just magically avoid the hateful guys, and you’ll do fine.

  2. Mecha says

    Okay, that is an interesting point, that that hasn’t been brought up. I think one could make a very strong argument about that, explicitly reframing crimes against women as hate crimes. In fact, I would argue that _calling something misogynistic_ implicitly labels it a hate crime I’d be surprised if it hadn’t been argued previously, just not brought up this time around. (The one man and one woman thing reminds me of something I can’t think of at the moment. Denialist tactic: Bad apples. There we go.)

    However… I would think that most feminists would leave it unspoken because 1) it’s generally understood 2) hate crimes against women being illegal are less controversial as an issue, possibly simply because people don’t think of them as hate crimes. Ever-dense as I am, I have, uh, very clearly picked up the concept that many feminists believe that misogyny is a big part of crimes against women. Some consolidate it into ‘patriarchy is misogyny’. Others don’t.

    But the opposition just _will not argue_ the feminist/race viewpoint. So there’s no reason for a feminist/race activist to bring it up, except to ‘rile up the base’, so to speak, and get the others in the group to realize it’s good. Or, less politically minded, simply to talk about it internally. Feminists and race-rights people don’t necessarily need to argue that this is good for them, _except amongst themselves_, because nobody’s berating them from the outside. ‘Is hate crimes legislation good? Is it bad?’ I’m not sure if that discussion’s going around. I haven’t seen it. I _have_ vaguely seen it from gay rights people. Not even the ultra-conservative (and ugh) Concerned Women of America is bothering to try to argue on the basis of womens rights. It’s all about federalism and ‘hate crimes laws are bad.’

    So I dunno, in the end. I think you’re right that one can (and maybe should) make that argument, but I think that that is an _internal_ discussion, in a sense, not a political one, because no politician is interested in arguing the converse, and will just keep hammering federalism/religious speech until their brains melt.


  3. Mecha says

    This is a tough post to reply to. And slightly confusing. *exhales* Here we go.

    In my view, nobody’s _criticizing_ it on the basis of it being anti-hate for women in the mainstream media. On the contrast, it is being criticized _by anti-gay groups_ (who are also usually anti-women groups) explicitly. And why would they bother using women as the criticism point? As odd as it sounds, it IS easier to play up ‘we have a right to think homosexuality is wrong’ than ‘we have a right to think being a woman is wrong’ (most of the anti-women types can’t argue that ‘being a woman’ (by sex) is a valid choice, just being womanly versus unnaturally manly.) Most anti-women types rephrase that sentiment in other ways. From a politics point of view, you start from the biggest reason and work down, and ‘we hate women’ extremely explicitly is _not a good reason_. But saying ‘being gay is wrong and homosexuality is immoral and sick sex will be okay in the US with this law is something you can _sell_. Your base isn’t gay. Your base _does_ contain women.

    So I am confused as to why you are concerned. The opposition is not talking about it from a womens rights point of view because they don’t want to look like COMPLETE fucking assholes. They’re framing their opposition as ‘religious freedom’ and ‘states rights.’ And as such, there’s nothing for the mainstream media to talk about. Why in the hell would they _poke at their own weakness_, or bring up a one-sided argument? That’s not good news stories.

    I don’t see it as accepting it as a fact of life at all, especially since the same prohibitions that exist on sexual orientation/gender identity in the bill exist about actual or percieved gender as well. On the contrary, it’s a large hint that when politicians want to hate women, they’d rather hide behind other things first.

    I somehow can’t see them arguing ‘this would keep us from decrying women who wear pants as being maleish’, _even though if their arguments had merit, it would_. It’s just not as socially acceptable an argument.

    It would be interesting if they had to, however. Very telling. But they don’t have to. It’s not because it’s a fact of life. It’s because they know they can’t win the argument like that. In my view.


  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    That all makes sense. However…

    In fact, I would argue that _calling something misogynistic_ implicitly labels it a hate crime I’d be surprised if it hadn’t been argued previously, just not brought up this time around.

    I’m told Canada included women in their original hate crime legislation, like it was obvious women were a targeted group. That’s what leads me to think it WASN’T obvious to people in the US. Or it was, but they had a rationalization for why it didn’t count as a hate crime or… something.

    Ever-dense as I am, I have, uh, very clearly picked up the concept that many feminists believe that misogyny is a big part of crimes against women. Some consolidate it into ‘patriarchy is misogyny’. Others don’t.

    True, but that’s exactly what I want to tease out. We talk about gay-bashing. We talk about burning crosses. But since women overlap every other hate crime group, it’s like our very commonness keeps people from realizing this very frightening fact:

    More than half the human species is a group targeted for hate crimes.

    It probably does need to begin as an internal discussion, but it’s one I hope will eventually become political.

    I have seen some discussion about the value (or lack thereof) of hate crime legislation as a whole. As always, some people think it gives special preference to the named groups. But it was introduced because those groups were receiving a lower standard of justice for crimes against them.

  5. Mecha says

    That’s what leads me to think it WASN’T obvious to people in the US. Or it was, but they had a rationalization for why it didn’t count as a hate crime or… something.

    Okay… now I’m confused, but not wholly because of this discussion. I had seen people say that hate crimes legislation _did_ include women, but that the problem was that it was not _used_. (And in general, that hate crime legislation was not used by judges/prosecutors, as it was discretionary to begin with.) So I looked up the current law definition of hate crime: H.R.3355, passed in 1994

    Not only does it currently define gender as a hate crime condition, it defines sexual orientation as one as well. The difference is that the current law only says that ‘you can upgrade offenses by 3 catagories for things that are hate crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.’ The new bill makes some much, much sharper lines: HR 1592

    The law already _includes_ women in its hate crimes legislation. So it did count. And not only did it count, it counted so much that it seemed, and seems, noncontroversial.

    I think you’re right that it’s an interesting discussion, but I am still puzzled. I’m just not sure over what anymore, whether it’s people arguing over established law, or just nit-picking, or that all the groups aren’t talking about it, or what. I just know that it’s easier for the opponents to attack the GLBT crowd, and argue states rights (ha ha Terry Schaivo ahem).

    (I gave the bill numbers for both because THOMAS searches might not make good links.)


  6. Mecha says

    (Added note: It is worth noting that Transgender/Transsexuals are explicitly a hate crimes group in this new bill, as opposed to being lumped under ‘perceived gender’. That _is_ new, and the motivation likely comes strongly from the transgender hate crimes perpetrated recently.)


  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    Unfortunately, the links don’t work.

    I’m no expert on the laws here, and I don’t think most of the media are, either. I have never heard of anyone being tried for a hate crime against a woman or women. I’m less interested in the law than in public perception of the law because the law is inert ink blobs until public perception pushes lawmakers to feel they have to use it.

    I mean, look at domestic violence: back in the 80’s, where I lived cops didn’t respond to domestic violence calls. They (or the law) considered it personal business. Public perception changed: abused kids were growing up to be killers. Abused women were dying. The public decided it WAS a public concern, and where I lived, the shift in police policy preceded changes in law.

    It’s up to us to decide crimes committed “because I hate women” are hate crimes. That’s what the press isn’t doing by mentioning the gender aspect of this current bill without discussing what sort of crimes it would cover.

    What happened to Kathy Sierra was a hate crime. The police appeared to take it seriously and do what they could. But public perception does not seem to recognize it as very similar to white neighborers threatening and bullying the new black family in town.

    The thing about hate crimes? If you’ll do it to one member of your target group, there’s no reason you wouldn’t do it to another. And another. And another. It’s by nature a serial pathology.

  8. Purtek says

    Everything I know about American law I learned from TV, so I have no insight on whether women have or have not been included in the past legislation. While they are included in Canadian law, however, it’s not something ever applied to a domestic violence or sexual assault situation, even if the woman ends up murdered. Which brings me to my point…

    2) hate crimes against women being illegal are less controversial as an issue, possibly simply because people don’t think of them as hate crimes.

    Why would that make hate crimes legislation (and the application of existing legislation) less controversial? We’re still seeing spousal abuse as a quaint “domestic” issue, and a personal one, not as one that reflects that abusers are acting out a desire to control and put down women as a group. Whether women are in the protected class or not, because people don’t think of these as generalized gender-based crimes, it would be insanely controversial to try to bring a “hate crimes” case against a scorned abusive ex-partner. The idea that “feminism has accomplished its goals”, or the suggestion that “violence against women is not a feminist issue” makes this even worse.

    My take on hate crimes legislation as a philosophy is a little different from Betacandy’s in one relevant way–hate crimes need to be punished more severely because they are essentially acts of terrorism against a community. Knowing that people will beat, rape and kill you because you are female, or gay, or a person of colour, or whatever, means that you and every member of that community has to walk scared. Which is completely true when it comes to the nature of the violence that women most often experience, but I still have to argue that that’s a feminist issue and not an interpersonal one.

  9. Mecha says

    What you say makes sense, Purtek… except that, as Beta points out, the law that was just passed with women being a hate crimes class is not bothering anyone, or if it is, they’re not saying so. And neither is the current law. The law already included women, and this new law also includes women. So for some reason, it’s passing by as non-controversial. But that’s not the whole of the story.

    The main thing I can think of is that nobody thinks it’s an issue, possibly because nobody sees spousal abuse or rape as a hate crime. I do think that, say, killing women exclusively could be considered a hate crime in the general view (and I hope such a case would be prosecuted like that). Putting such an argument forward, if it’s what people believe… well, it should be done. I can’t really speak for people.

    Pondering through what makes sex/relationship based crimes a hate crime is hard, at least for me. Maybe everyone else has it figured out. If you’re heterosexual, is rape a hate crime? If it was a friend you raped, is it a hate crime? What if you’re homosexual? What if you rape cross-preference (you prefer men, but you raped a woman)? Is that more or less of a hate crime? What if you’re bisexual (their sex had nothing to do with the rape! It’s not a hate crime!) What if you rape a man? Nnh. Just using rape as the example, even some of those questions seem murky to me, and rape is one of the vilest crimes in existence.

    I think another reason there’s no lack of protest is because women are ‘default included’ in equality laws at this point (like race is), so nobody would think of excluding them from the law in text… just including them in not having any meaningful enforcement. Then again, meaningful enforcement is what this law is meant to address, in part. This does tie back to your bringing up the ‘feminism has already achieved its goals’ idea, in that people casually pay lip service to female equality, but don’t really think about it deep down. Prosecuting a rape as a hate crime is something I hadn’t thought about, but in part I think it’s because ‘when is a rape not a hate crime?’ is the next question that comes into my mind (and as I hinted at above, the answer doesn’t immediately come to me.) If a crime is, by default, a hate crime, and prosecuted with special consequences (sexual offenses, at least, often are. Spousal beatings, not as much), then it’s a hate crime in all but name. But maybe it’s important it be in name too. I can’t speak as to why nobody argues that. I really just don’t know. Part of me wonders if it’s because there’s a backlash against ‘hate crimes’ prosecution that people don’t want to _attach_ to abuse/rape. Abuse/rape prosecution is hard enough as is. Another attack vector on the concept of the prosecution may not be what the prosecutors want. I really just don’t know. Could even be a factor of prosecutors being mainly men, who have never thought about it this way. I’d believe that as much as anything.

    Personally, in the past week, I’ve also come to think more favorably of hate crimes legislation. Nothing like reading about it in more detail to make you come to better conclusions. But I still remain a bit puzzled. I’m beginning to fear that’s my natural state, anymore. *chuckle*


  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    As an aside, I just want to mention I still haven’t found any indication the current laws cover gender hate crimes.

    I did find this regarding the 1994 expansion:

    The Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancement Act, enacted in 28 U.S.C. 944 note Sec. 280003, requires the United States Sentencing Commission to increase the penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person. In 1995, the Sentencing Commission implemented these guidelines, which only apply to federal crimes.[5]

    Emphasis mine. I’m not sure what all the federal crimes are, but most of them are more mail fraud and tax evasion related. So sending a woman threats through the mail might be a hate crime, but I have a feeling rape and murder aren’t on this list.

    I do think that, say, killing women exclusively could be considered a hate crime in the general view (and I hope such a case would be prosecuted like that).

    But it never has been. Name one case where someone’s been tried for a hate crime against women. And yet there are serial killers who only killed women, and told stories of a woman who traumatized them in some way that inspired them to go knock off a few more women.

    I’m guess the line between “normal crime” and “hate crime” is a bit fuzzy in every case, Mecha, because it’s almost like we need to be able to read the perpetrator’s mind. But here’s an example someone else constructed to show how you take current hate crime criteria and apply them to crimes against women:

    the victim and the perpetrator are from different “groups” (the perpetrator is male, the victim is female;

    the perpetrator used any biased remarks while committing the crime (the perpetrator repeatedly called the victim a “bch” and/or a “ct”);

    there were any offensive symbols, words or acts that are known to represent bias against the victim’s group (the perpetrator talked about his hatred of women; he possessed pornography of women in bondage);

    1. the victim is a member of a targeted group (female);
    2. the perpetrator has subjected the victim or victim’s group to repeat attacks of a similar nature (the perpetrator has committed repeated sexual assaults or acts of domestic violence against this victim and others);
    3. the incident would not have taken place if the victim and the perpetrator were of the same group (no sexual assault or domestic violence if the victim was male);
    4. the victim perceived the perpetrator’s actions to be motivated by bias (maybe, if she’s not in denial); and
    5. a substantial part of the community where the crime occurred perceive the incident to be motivated by bias (probably not, given current attitudes).

  11. Mecha says

    Aha. The federal crimes thing does make more sense, and yeah, typically those aren’t hate crimes. Okay.

    No, I can’t ever name a hate crimes case that used women as the class. Then again, I can’t ever think of having experience with a true hate crimes case in the media off the top of my head.. Looking into the law in California (thanks to that newsletter giving me an example of a place that might have put the law FORWARD already), it seems that that effort was _successful_ at making it law, but not at making people do the prosecution (See http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/hatecrimes/pub.php , their definition of hate crimes, etc.) What annoys me here is that the reports don’t actually _have_ the data to ask ‘What crimes were being treated as hate crimes towards women? Were they successfully prosecuted?’ However, the incredibly low number makes it clear that it’s not the ones we’re talking about.

    Given the newsletter’s list as SOP for police investigations, and the lack of prosecution for such… the conclusion that sexual abuse, domestic assault, and such, have a real good case for generally being prosecuted as hate crimes becomes sorta forgone and obvious to me. ^^; It’s a solid argument, and it seems the right thing to do. I’m not sure what more to say than that there.

    I still don’t know why I don’t see it put forward more as an idea by feminists or legal scholars, or not shown up recently. I keep trying to answer the ‘why’ in a better way than ‘The world is sexist’, and I’m not sure I have much more left, especially not to explain the feminist half of it, so I have to fall back to ‘I’m just not seeing it.’ But you said you didn’t see it too. So… yeah.


  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    Maybe it’s as simple as misogyny predating what we think of in modern times as “racism” and other “isms” that are currently protected. Maybe it’s also more insidious, since unlike other groups, we can’t really be avoided.

    I.E. interracial or international slavery and genocide and war have been around forever, but only in modern times have we defined “racism” as unequal terms perpetrated by individuals against individuals but with the (often tacit) backing of the culture and/or system against the entire group. Meanwhile, descriptions of hate and loathing for women go back eons, and the form of expression really hasn’t changed. Misogyny was always perpetrated against one woman at a time. Our forced reliance on men was never called “slavery”; no one ever tried to wipe us out; mass rapes in wartime are thought of as part of war rather than a wrong against women.

    I’m not explaining this clearly. Hmm.

    Another thing about the concern that preaching hatred of homosexuals could be considered a hate crime, so this legislation would be unfair to alleged Christians who were out the day they taught the New Testament:

    I was reading Judges 19 tonight. It’s this very tricky story in the Bible. A traveling man and his concubine – a legally recognized mistress, not far off from a wife – stop in an Israelite town where they expect to be safe and find lodging with a man. Then some neighbors show up and want to rape the visitor. The host instead offers them his virgin daughter to do with whatever seems “good” to them. The neighbors won’t settle for that, so the visitor gives them his concubine and they gang rape her all night long. When the visitor leaves in the morning, she’s just laying at the door of the house, her hands on the thresshold. He orders her to get up; she doesn’t move. He throws her over his donkey and leaves town. Later, to chastise Israel for its wicked depravity, he chops her into 12 pieces and sends bits of her to the regions of Israel.

    Now, this story sounds like a pornographic horror movie, and it’s supposed to. When properly taught, it’s clear that no one is endorsing how the host or visitor handled the situation, nor what happened to the concubine. It’s all about how depraved Israel had become.

    But merely reading this thing out loud sounds more like a hate crime against women than any passage regarding homosexuality in the Bible (of which this is one, even though it seems to me these men were all about “humbling” foreigners, and the gender didn’t matter – they rejected the virgin daughter because she was local). But while people are perfectly comfortable to acknowledge the Bible’s anti-homosexuality stance and argue about the legislation on that basis, it’s interesting no one’s bringing up the misogyny quite a lot of preachers manage to find in the Bible. Not to mention the oppressive stuff that’s actually in it: women shut up, don’t let your woman have power over you, beat her if she screws up, stone her if she can’t prove her virginity when she marries, and so on.

    Personally, I do believe the religion is about love despite all this, and the one person whose remarks should count most – Jesus – never said anything to indicate he saw women as lesser than men in any way. I feel the need to add this because Christianity gets bashed so much on blogs, and while certain activities under its umbrella deserve that, I don’t think maligning the whole religion is anymore helpful than, say, maligning all men because patriarchy sucks.

  13. Mike says

    Instead of saying privileged, why don’t you just come out and say White? In most interracial crimes involving Whites, the Whites are the victims, and a lot of them are women. There were better ways to fix the anti-Black sentiment in the courtroom than poorly written laws that cause more animosity between peoples. If a law is written it should be written correctly. We need to change more than laws anyway, we need to change culture. There are people who use their culture as an excuse to abuse women, and claim racism if we point it out. I confront anyone who puts down women in general, or denegrades motherhood. I’m surprised at how they react, as if they were just repeating a mysogynist script and someone called “CUT!” There is no excuse for assaulting or abusing women, not poverty, not religion, not culture.

    I’m also appaled at some of the defenses in rape trials, some women are reluctant to testify because of the humiliation they recieve from the court itself. If we need to pass laws perhaps we should pass some restricting defense lawyers from utilizing irrelevant attacks on female victims, such as pointing out that they were provocatively dressed, as if their client were not responsible for his own violent actions.

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    Because “white” is not what “privileged” means. I was referring to all types of privilege, including white privilege, male privilege, class privilege, heterosexual privilege and class privilege. Had I meant “white privilege” I’d have said so.

    There are people who use their culture as an excuse to abuse women, and claim racism if we point it out.

    I haven’t run into that myself. I did, however, grow up in a culture of white redneck men who used redneck pseudo-Christian values as an excuse to denigrate, rape and brutalize anyone from that girl in the mall who didn’t beg to blow them to their supposedly beloved wives and daughters. But I don’t recall them crying racism when people bring it up. No, as I recall, they think they have a right to treat women that way.

    Then some of them got clever and called themselves “Male Rights Activists” to raise awareness about the horrors of (white) men not being allowed to treat women and children however they see fit.

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