Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Right to Kill
by John Aravosis (DC) on 4/22/2009 02:42:00 PM
I've written before about the religious right's newest cause celebre, the Right to Kill. Extreme right fundamentalist Christian leaders are demanding that American civil rights laws provide an exemption for their "right" to kill their political opponents, or any other American they disprove of, provided they claim the murder was inspired by their faith.
(We tend to avoid the usually-overplayed Nazi comparison, here at AMERICAblog. But in this case, the notion of protecting the majority's right to murder and incite violence against minorities is historically troubling.)
It's not entirely clear why the religious right, which professes to care so much about "life," especially when its coffers are running dry, is now suddenly interested in the right to kill. Have there been a rash of religious right murders of gays, blacks, women and other minorities that they've historically oppressed? Or is the religious right planning, or hoping, to incite violence against those groups and others in American society? (And they wonder why Homeland Security is interested in their more violent members.)
The religious right's main legislative effort surrounding their right to kill is centered around the hate crimes amendment being debated in the House this week. As Joe wrote earlier, the hate crimes amendment takes the current US hate crimes law, that has been on the books for decades, and applies it to everyone.
Under the existing law, only violence inspired by the hatred of some classes of Americans is covered - some might even say that those classes, which include Christian fundamentalists, have been granted "special rights" under the law, since only some groups, and not others, are included in the current law. Already included in the current law is violence motivated by the race, religion or national origin of the victim. The hate crimes amendment being debated today would add gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to the already-existing law.
Regardless of your views on the propriety of hate crimes laws, if America is going to have such a law on the books - and we already do - shouldn't it protect everyone? If not, then the very nightmare that hate crimes law opponents predict - a world in which some classes of people have more legal protections than others - will not only be a reality, it will remain our current reality.
Of course, isn't that what this is all about? The religious right is desperate to protect its special rights. Thus, they viciously attack a law that secretly already protects them, in order to ensure that no other classes of Americans receive similar protection. They invoke their right to kill, in order to defeat a law that is intended to stop the killing. If the religious right were truly opposed to hate crimes laws, they would be agitating to repeal America's current hate crimes law, the one protecting them. But they're not.