Both houses of Congress have passed the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Act– popularly known as the Hate Crimes Bill. President Obama will sign the measure shortly.
Some people, in and out of the LGBT community, object to this sort of law, considering it an infringement on free specch. They have a case, but it has never persuaded me. I agree with those who oppose banning speech that is hateful.
But we can decide as a society that violent crimes–such as murder and assault–based on hatred toward a particular group ,violate our common values and threaten the security of all. Murderers deserve punishment no matter their motivation, but we can, for our common good, add penalties that make it clear that hate that leads to murder is doubly unacceptable to a decent and ordered society.
It reminds me of an old story about a man who went to church. His neighbor asked him later what the preacher said. The man said, “He talked about sin.” His friend said, “What did he say about sin?” The man said, “He’s ag’in it.”
We’re ag’in hate.