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View Diary: Matthew Shepard Act is finally law (158 comments)

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  •  It's OK and all but it's not "Prevention" (2+ / 0-)
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    mattman, freespeech

    it's enforcement and punishment for hate crimes. Don't see it doing any prevention measures.  Noticed the headline on Huffington as "No More Matthew Shepards" but it doesn't mean that at all just more likely arrest, conviction and sentencing when they occur.

    •  That doesn't mean there are no benefits. (22+ / 0-)

      It's a strong signal to our society that bigotry directed toward the LGBT community is unacceptable. This is an important message to send, especially to younger generations that are just now forming their opinions about all those other people out there in the world who are different from them.

      It is also a first step in producing more federal legislation on LGBT issues. This was the first federal law passed on any LGBT issue, and puts Congress on record as having voted for equal rights for all. If they're willing to say that nobody should be attacked for who they are, then it makes sense to stop denying rights to those very same human beings they voted to protect today.

      •  I suppose but more an inside LGBT thing. (1+ / 0-)
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        "This is an important message to send, especially to younger generations"

        I don't think Federal laws are on the radar as guide to social behavior for the younger generation.

        No beef with the law but billing it as a preventive is inaccurate.

        •  What's on the radar of young people (10+ / 0-)

          is the message that hate is unacceptable. This will be on the news. This IS on the news. It's out there being talked about on social networking sites. It's another piece in the puzzle reinforcing the idea that the LGBT community should be equal to everyone else in every way.

          To say that "Federal laws aren't on the radar" is ridiculous. I think young people are very aware, for example, that drugs are illegal. And that racial discrimination is illegal. And so on and so forth. And yes, that DOES influence behavior.

          Not for everybody. But for many. And then more, and more. Once some people come around, they convince others. Eventually a critical mass is reached. There will always, apparently, be the 25% that is hate-filled, but this is about getting to the rest.

          When people know that they will be judged harshly for being a bigot it may indeed prevent them from doing something. Again, not everybody, but many.

          •'s not going affect young people (1+ / 0-)
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            For two reasons:

            1. Younger people are much more tolerant on the issue.
            1. The law had it's 5 minutes of fame. I doubt the five minutes made it on to any young person's radar except in the LGBT community.

            "I think young people are very aware, for example, that drugs are illegal."

            That example tends to disprove your point as young people pay no attention to recreational drug laws. Drug laws actually tend to be encourage the behavior, forbidden fruit and all that.

        •  At the very least, once a particular person (3+ / 0-)
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          G2geek, LynneK, Anima

          from the younger generation is arrested, charged, and punished, it ought to be a deterrent for further behavior for that person, right? Not to mention the people in his/her circle.

          Listen to progressive talk radio 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. every weekday at

          by AlanF on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 05:58:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't really see it as deterrent. (0+ / 0-)

            Like Sheppard, more crimes of the moment and opportunity with not a lot of (if any) premeditation. It will help in arrest and prosecution as many local law enforcement agencies are likely to have no interest or manpower in pursing hate crimes.

    •  deterrence counts. (8+ / 0-)

      Ideally "prevention" means an all-inclusive, federally-mandated civil rights curriculum to be taught in primary and secondary schools.  However, for now, what we have is the deterrent effect of law and punishment.  

      In certain parts of the US, people think that local law enforcement won't care if they beat up a "fag."  

      Now they might have to deal with the Feds, and that really does scare a lot of 'em enough to make 'em stop.  

      This is exactly like what happened with the Civil Rights movement and the rights of black Americans: the Feds swooped down on the KKK and other violent racist groups.  Over time, it worked.  

      •  One important difference... (2+ / 0-)
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        ferallike, teloPariah that the federal government, by that point, had a mandate to enforce the equal protection clause against state and local governments.  And then of course the Civil Rights Act was passed.  There's no equivalent for LGBTs.  

        •  this isn't like building a house, where.... (7+ / 0-)

          the foundation has to be done before the frame, and the frame has to be done before the roof.  

          I'll take federal protection and equality in whatever order I can get them.  Start here, then pass the next thing, and then the next.  

          Just knowing that the FBI and federal courts will be involved, is a good thing.  It means that anywhere in the US, regardless of the local attitudes, we are protected in a way that we were not until today.  

          •  Well that's true (1+ / 0-)
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            But the fact of the matter is that until the foundation is built, LGBTs can be fire from private and public jobs, denied any kind of family recognition, etc.  This is a very limited form of federal protection.  It's also dependent on prosecutorial discretion for the substantive crimes; I haven't checked the state assistance provisions.  

            So, technically speaking, there's no guarantee the federal government will be involved in the manner you suggest.

            •  the most basic thing the law can do, is..... (0+ / 0-)

              protect a person from violence.

              From that perspective, this would be one of the first things that has to occur.  

              I believe we'll see housing and job nondiscrimination statutes pretty darn quick.  Considering that the Matthew Shepard Act has been pending for something like ten years, for Obama and the progressives in Congress to get it passed in the first year of the administration is an impressive achievement.  

              As for guarantees, nothing in life is guaranteed except death & taxes.  However, given where AG Holder has been going this year, I expect the DOJ will get right on it, which means the FBI are right on it as well.  Those are formidable resources, and they really do scare the poopies out of a lot of rightwinger nutjobs.  

    •  How... (1+ / 0-)
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      Corwin Weber you make insanity stop by passing a law?

      •  You cycle.... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the irreparably insane out of society.  (Prison.)  Eventually, the point gets driven home.  That or enough of the irreparably insane are in prison and out of society at large that the problem is minimized.

      •  Hatred is not insanity (0+ / 0-)

        it is humanity, it is in us.  People want to make the Hitlers of this world to be monsters, to be something else or controlled by something else because we don't want to admit that such hate could exist in one of us.  Hate comes from fear which comes from not understanding or wanting to understand differences.

        This law is not about stopping hate, but allowing for hate to be named and to called out, specifically in the places in this country where this hate would be allowed to exist under the existing laws.  The goal of hate crimes laws is not the punishment of the act, a murder is a murder, but to shine a light onto the act in hopes from preventing a future act, to stamp out the darkness of hatred by giving it a name.

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