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!┬áThis 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.