In a May 29 essay at the WorldNetDaily web site, reprinted four days later at Concerned Women for America, Robert Knight blasts a newly proposed federal hate crimes measure that enjoys bipartisan support.
After calling GOP Senators Orrin Hatch and Gordon Smith “liberal” — a reminder to readers that few in the ex-gay movement know what a liberal is — Knight accuses the conveniently undefined “homosexual lobby” of moving to criminalize thought and persecute Christians.
Knight fails to mention the Independent Gay Forum, whose arguments against hate-crimes legislation are far more compelling and level-headed than Knight’s. Knight also neglects to mention that various Christian organizations (gasp!) support hate-crimes legislation.
While overlooking a diversity of views about hate crimes, Knight offers the strange and off-topic observation that in Massachusetts, “weddings no longer require a bride.” Well, actually, they do require a bride or groom. Furthermore, a majority of the gay marriages in Massachusetts have been between two women, and many of the couples married, in part, to protect their children.
Meandering from the marriage issue back to hate crimes, Knight undercuts his own argument that hate crimes are on the decline when he acknowledges that reporting of hate crimes increased dramatically in California after that state passed a hate crimes law. He further undermines his argument by insulting those who, in 1998, showed compassion for hate crime victim Matthew Shepard and disapproval of those who said Shepard deserved his fate. Knight calls these compassionate Americans “liberal chattering classes.” And he damages his credibility by exaggerating laws in Canada and Sweden that limit incendiary hate speech.
Knight complains that hate crimes against churches often go unreported — but seems to blame homosexuals for that, and not the police who face disincentives for reporting hate crimes against either churches or homosexuals — or, for that matter, predominantly gay churches.
I believe Knight is justified in his concern about the potential misuse of hate crimes laws.
Unfortunately, he offers no recognition that opposition to hate crimes laws crosses political and sexual boundaries. He ignores the severity and impact of crimes based on the victim’s race, religion, gender or sexuality. And he offers no defense of free speech for “liberals,” whether they reside in the GOP or anywhere else.
Instead, Robert Knight views the entire subject with one eye shut.
(Thanks to Michael Hamar for the heads-up.)