Friday, May 04, 2007

Ellsworth And Donnelly Offer Lame Excuses For No Vote On Hate Crimes

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) and U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth voted against federal hate crimes legislation yesterday for one reason and one reason only. Neither of them wanted the American Family Association's Micah Clark or Advance America's Eric Miller to be able to tell their followers that either of them had cast a vote for legislation which Clark and Miller would cast as a "pro-homosexual vote". Now that we got that out of the way, here's the story they're telling the Star's Maureen Groppe:

Ellsworth: Ellsworth, who was Vanderburgh County sheriff before being elected to Congress, said his law enforcement experience taught him "that most crimes are based on hate of one kind or another, and passing legislation doesn't change that." Ellsworth also said in a statement that sheriffs and county prosecutors he consulted told him the legislation is not needed.

Donnelly: Donnelly said he isn't convinced the bill would reduce crime. "Unfortunately, prosecutors can't eradicate hate from our society," Donnelly said in a statement. "It's up to us . . . to limit the impact hate has on our communities."

There is an emerging pattern here. When it comes to hot-button social issues, Donnelly and Ellsworth mirror their Republican predecessors' positions to a tee.


Wilson46201 said...

But their Republican predecessors all voted for Speaker Dennis Hastert who followed Tom Delay's GOP playbook and wouldn't even allow the Hate Crimes Act to come to the floor for a vote. With Republican dominance in DC, all pro-LGBT legislation was killed for years!

Now with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quite a logjam of stalled legislation is finally passed -- and gross pandering like constitutional amendments against "homosexual marriage" are being relegated to the back pews of rural churches!

Gary R. Welsh said...

With you, Wilson, it's always the same. As long as they have a "D" behind their name, you're for them, no matter what their voting record is.

Wilson46201 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wilson46201 said...

Sadly, with AI, since there is so very little positive for Log Cabin Republicans to boast about and so much in the GOP to condemn, you tend to specialize in attacks on Democrats.

Hill, Ellsworth and Donnelly shifted the balance of power in Congress away from your homophobic Republican Party. Log Cabin Republicans helped put George Bush in the White House - Bush may very well veto the Hate Crimes Act but he's a good Republican!

Donna P said...

Advance Indiana,

In an email request to Donnelly to vote yes on H.R. 1592, here is a portion of his response:
“I am appalled by the thought of any human being acting out in violence against any other human being. As you know, acts of violence not made in self-defense are criminal under existing law. I strongly believe that violent crimes should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law up to and including the administration of the death penalty, if appropriate.

The sad reality is that all violent crimes are in some way born of hate. The chief law enforcement officers in our communities-our prosecutors-do their level-best to punish violent criminals for their actions. For this service, we owe them a debt of gratitude. However, prosecutors, whether at the local, state or federal level, cannot eradicate hate from our society. It is up to us-in how we raise our children and how we treat one another-to limit the impact hate has on our communities.

Congress has an obligation to set policies that help keep people safe. While I am not convinced that a federal hate crimes law would reduce the incidence of crime in our communities, Congress should play an active role in supporting the work of our police departments and prosecutors. For example, I support increasing funding for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, which helps state and local law enforcement entities hire new prosecutors and pay for overtime, training and equipment. I am also a cosponsor of a bill that would reauthorize the Community-Oriented Policing, or COPS, Program. If passed into law, it would put an additional 50,000 police ------officers onto our streets. “
I am inclined to believe that Joe knew H.R. 1592 was going to pass without his vote and wanted to keep the conservatives in his district content. Politics as usual.
The scary thing to me about his response is his faith in the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and the Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) Program as a way to help eradicate acts of violence committed against GLBT. There is nothing on either of their websites that has any mention of ANY programs that address acts of violence against the GLBT community. Based on Indiana’s anti-gay track record I have no faith in JAG or COPS as a potential solution.

Anonymous said...

My beef with Hate Crimes Legislation is that is makes the illegal *really* illegal for this or that person. If something is already illegal like killing a man, why make it *really* illegal if the crime is killing a gay man? To be fair, should we not stipulate that killing a non-gay man, or a /fill in the blank/ man is *really* illegal too? Is there an Advance Indiana link that I can read which addresses this question? Thanks - Chris Mann

Wilson46201 said...

Our Senator Evan Bayh is listed as a Senate co-sponsor for the Hate Crime legislation -- Senator Dick Lugar is one of the mostly Republican hold-outs on sponsorship. How likely is it that he'll buck Bush and vote for this law?

Edward Fox said...

The bill is misnamed, giving the ignorant and the prejudiced a platform. The point about "hate crimes' legislation, which should be called "bias crimes", is not to create a new thought crime, and not to punish someone who is convicted of hating his victim, but to enhance the sentence of someone who targets a group. The characteristic of a "hate crime" is not hate, but the intent to intimidate a group, race, sex, gender, &c by committing crimes against members with the intent of sending a message. Burning a cross is arson, but it is much more than that. Attacking an African American with the intent of letting others know that they are "not welcome" is more than simple battery and should be punished accordingly.

The congressmen should know better if they are doing their job. It is disgusting that they not only vote to appease Eric Miller, but spread his vile disinformation as well.

If this problem is already covered, why is the Republican Marion County Prosecutor in favor of it?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks, Ed. Here are some additional thoughts I found in response to some of these absurd claims:

All crimes are hate crimes, right?
No, most "street crime" is the roduct of greed and the motivation is personal gain. Car theft, burglary, extortion, embezzlement, and robbery are all obvious examples where the motive is not hate toward the victim, but rather the victim is targeted as an opportunity for financial gain.
Bias crimes on the other hand, represent no opportunity for gain on the part of the perpetrator, but instead are committed for the expressed sole purpose of hurting the victim. They are acts of victimization for the sake of

"Crimes of passion" may involve personal enmity toward the victim, but they would not be characterized "hate crimes". A criminal act motivated by revenge, for example, is not provoked by animus against the victim per se,
but rather is a warped attempt to secure justice for a perceived
transgression. In any case, there is generally a pre-existing relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, and a particular defining event behind the motivation for the crime.

Bias-crimes on the other hand, are hate-crimes - not because of mere malice - but because of pre-existing and unprovoked animus towards the victim. Furthermore, the victims are not targeted because of anything they did, but
because of who they are - their real or perceived identity as a member of a group which the perpetrator is irrationally prejudiced against.

The routine excessive violence often employed in bias crimes is called "overkill". Victims are not merely hit over the head, but bludgeoned into disfigurement; they are not merely stabbed, but mutilated; not merely murdered, but savagely tortured to death. In fact, the presence of "overkill"
in an incident is itself an indicator of bias motivation. Overkill only "makes sense" when the objective of a crime is maximizing the victim's pain and

Not every killing is murder, and not every murder is "1st degree" - motive being a significant defining circumstance. Likewise crimes motivated by bias are distinct from the same crimes committed under other motivations. As demonstrated in other sections of this report, bias crimes involve particular motives, intentions and consequences, above and beyond those of the offense at hand, that justify additional penalties in response to such criminal acts.