Class is in for legally challenged

“Liberals are far more concerned with purity of motive than with moral results.”

– Dennis Prager, conservative author, columnist and talk radio host

This Place’s routine has been temporarily suspended in an effort to educate those in the peanut gallery who have not yet attended my college class on the United States Constitution. Class is now in session.It started with a recent letter to the editor, to-wit: “There is no sane reason not to support the Matthew Shepard Act (S. 1105). It’s a long overdue bill to expand hate crimes to include violent attacks based on a victim’s gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability—real or perceived—basically to fully prosecute anyone who violently and physically attacks a person based on who they are.

“It also provides funding to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute these crimes. It does not prosecute thoughts or free speech, as some people mistakenly seem to believe, only physical violence.”

OK, this is where my head about imploded, so I won’t revisit the rest of the gentle reader’s letter, but suffice it to say that I’d lay even odds she was a) liberal, b) young, c) overly compassionate, and d) couldn’t name what part of the United States Constitution references the term “abortion.”

For the uninitiated, the aforementioned act was introduced by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the senior Democrat windbag from Massachusetts. The bill is named after one Matthew Wayne Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming who was fatally attacked near Laramie, Wyo., on the night of Oct. 6, 1998, in what was widely reported by the news media as a savage beating perpetrated against a gay man. Shepard died from severe head injuries in a Fort Collins, Colo., hospital the following week. His murder sparked a national movement by hand-wringing activists with too much time on their hands to push otherwise ignorant, linguini-spined legislators to pass a flurry of “hate crimes” legislation—at least at the state level. Former President Bill Clinton tried it at the federal level, but it was defeated by the mean, homophobic Republicans.

Of course, little attention was paid to the fact that Shepard’s two assailants—Russel Henderson and Aaron McKinney—were both convicted of the homicide and imprisoned. Henderson is currently serving two consecutive life sentences after agreeing to testify against McKinney and McKinney is serving the same but without the possibility of parole after a jury found him guilty. He likely would have received the death penalty but Shepard’s parents agreed to a brokered deal during the penalty phase of the trial.

But none of this is of any import to liberals with an agenda—even misguided ones.

That brings us back to our letter writer. First a “hate crime,” by definition, is designed to punish thought. It is the motivation behind the crime that gets liberals’ pantyhose all in a wad, rather than the act itself. Otherwise, there would not be this insipid push to criminalize motivation. In Shepard’s case, he would still be dead. I’m quite certain he didn’t give a rip about Henderson and McKinney’s motivation as he was being pistol whipped, beaten and left to die.

Second, assault, battery and homicide are already crimes that punish physical violence.

Third, hate-crime laws are blatantly unconstitutional. Hate crime laws create special classes of victims and don’t treat all victims fairly. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that all citizens be given equal treatment under the law. That’s the very same amendment that same-gender groups claim gives them the right to marry.

And that perhaps brings us to Prager’s assertion.

Class dismissed.