After a winter and a spring marked by the rise of racism and gay-bashing, six months in a so-called post-racial world where instinctive and primal social conservatism is threatening to tear down the thin fabric of national cohesion, the House of Representatives passed a Hate Crime Bill, systematically vetoed under the Bush Administration, yet now a reality.

A hate crime is an attack – verbal or physical, assault – sexual or physical – or even murder based on the victim’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or mental/physical disability. A hate crime is exactly what it is: it is a crime, a severe threat and violation of one’s integrity, based on pure, unabashed hatred for what is different. Until today, a hate crime was not recognized as such in the United States, unlike most western countries; a specific intent on the defendant’s part could only contribute to a tougher sentence, but did not constitute a separate crime in itself.  If the law has to mirror the society in which it is developed in order to provide a more efficient protection, then there is no doubt the United States desperately needed the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Because hate crimes are dividing a nation and respond to different stimulus than a ‘regular’ crime, and because it is often symptomatic or a deeper social issue, Obama urged the House of Representatives to sign the bill into law. “I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance”, he said. But as it often appears to be the case in the recent american political rhethoric, the question of equality seems to raise a serious concern for inequality on the part of opposing Republicans, who firmly convinced themselves that giving people rights would take theirs away. As if Proposition 8 was not enough to prove that civil rights still have a long way to march in the nation of Freedom, a handful of elected officials raised their concern: Lamar Smith, on the Representative Judicial Committee, believes the Hate Crime bill undermines the very core concept of US Justice. “Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system — ‘equal justice for all.'”

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

In an argument that seems to defy all logic, “”Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime.” Following that logic, creating a longer and tougher sentence for acts of pedophilia would make adults lesser than children, teachers lesser than students, and male lesser than women under the law. Following that logic, affirmative action would make white people lesser than black, hispanic, or asian people. Strangely enough, we have already heard that before, and it certainly feels as if whenever one part of the population finally accesses to what is duly and properly theirs to be reckoned with, the privileged pundits are jumping to their feet in an attempt to defend oligarchy.

Former presidential candidate John McCain, a seemingly permanent Washington DC resident and unsuccessful in the race to political credibility, objected to the Hate Crimes Bill on FoxNews.  According to McCain, the Hate Crimes Bill is stealing the spotlight of the Defense Budget discussion, a topic very close to his heart, the belligerent watchdog believes that bipartisanship, that Obama claimed to have owned during votes on the health care reform, is nowhere to be found and will not support another attempt to promote civil rights. Well, no one ever said that the Defense Budget was not worth a national debate, Mr. McCain. No one even believes that cookie-cutter clean cut bipartisan ship really exists, Mr. McCain. No one would ever deny the possibility of discussion among the Representatives of the people, Mr. McCain, and I do believe it took place before the vote. But here is the thing. Young Americans have been dying at the hands of other Americans, Mr. McCain. How long are we going to discuss this for?

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