Threatening ‘Everything You Hold Dear!’

by Dan Quinn

That got your attention, didn’t it? That’s what one far-right group in Texas was counting on today when it sent out a hair-on-fire fundraising e-mail with that subject line. We wanted to give you a taste of how far-right extremists are trying to frighten and shake down folks for money these days. From the e-mail:

“Just days ago, President Obama signed the so-called ‘Hate Crimes’ bill into law. This bill is an attack on religious freedom like never before. We must not stand by and do nothing! This new federal law could actually criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality.”

Of course, that’s a lie.

The federal hate crimes law does nothing to criminalize speech, religious or otherwise. The new measure simply expanded existing federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by hatred of a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. (The law already included crimes based on a victim’s race, ethnicity, nationality and religion.) Honest and honorable people can perhaps disagree about the need for such a law, but shouldn’t everyone at least tell the truth? In fact, the law includes this specific provision:

“Nothing in this division shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.”

But there’s money to raise, so the e-mail includes this scare tactic:

“Imagine what the future holds for you, me, your children and our nation under this federal law!”

Yes, imagine a future in which people are not beaten to death because of who they love, how they pray, what gender or race they are or because they have a disability. And imagine, if you dare, one in which extremists aren’t trying to scare gullible people into thinking they’ll end up in an American Gulag because they pray.