The Book of Ron Paul
1998 Ron Paul Chapter 122

Hate Crimes And Individual Rights

16 October 1998

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Friday, October 16, 1998

1998 Ron Paul 122:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I commend to my colleagues in Congress as well as citizens everywhere an article authored by Richard Sincere, Jr., President of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty. Mr. Sincere aptly describes how the very essence of hate crimes undermines a pillar of a free and just society; that is, equal treatment under the law irrespective of which particular group or groups with whom an individual associates. Ours is a republic based upon the rights of the individual.

1998 Ron Paul 122:2
[From the Houston Chronicle, Oct. 14, 1998]
(By Richard E. Sincere, Jr.)
The wicked murder of Matthew Shepard by two thugs, assisted by two equally contemptible accomplices, has resurrected a debate about the need for hate-crime laws.

1998 Ron Paul 122:3
Shepard, an openly gay University of Wyoming student who had been widely praised for his talents, ambitions and personality, last week was beaten senseless and left for dead, tied up like a scarecrow along a fence on a little-traveled country road. Miraculously, he was found by passers-by many hours after the attack, still struggling for life when he was rushed to a hospital in Fort Collins, CO, where he died Monday while on life support.

1998 Ron Paul 122:4
Local law enforcement officials in Laramie, WY, where the crime took place, quickly arrested the alleged perpetrators — two men who performed the assault and two women who helped them hide their deed — and it looks like they will be punished to the full extent the law allows if they are convicted.

1998 Ron Paul 122:5
With Shepard’s death, they face a possible death sentence.

1998 Ron Paul 122:6
Laramie, a university community of 27,000 people, is feeling both shame and outrage, a sentiment shared by all right-minded people throughout the country, indeed around the world. News of this brutal assault has appeared everywhere in print and broadcast media.

1998 Ron Paul 122:7
The crime against Shepard has renewed calls for passing hate-crime legislation, both in Wyoming and nationwide. Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer and President Bill Clinton have said that this attack shows the need for such laws.

1998 Ron Paul 122:8
This would be a mistake. It would be a mistake because hate-crime laws, however well intentioned, are feel-good laws whose primary result is thought control, violating our constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and of conscience. It would be a mistake because it suggests that crimes against some people are worse than crimes against others. And it would be a mistake because it uses a personal tragedy, deeply felt by Shepard’s family and friends, to advance a political agenda.

1998 Ron Paul 122:9
Hunter College Professor Wayne Dynes, editor of the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, notes that hate-crime laws, if they are to be applied in a constitutional manner, must be content-neutral. He notes this example: “Countless numbers of people, aware of the unspeakable atrocities under his leadership, hated Pol Pot. This hate was surely well warranted. If one of the Pol Pot haters had killed him, would this be a hate crime? Why not?” Dynes adds: “In seeking to exculpate the killer, we would get into the question of whether some hate is ‘justified’ and some is not.” He concludes that hate-crime prosecutions “will be used to sanction certain belief systems — systems which the enforcer would like, in some Orwellian fashion, to make unthinkable. This is not a proper use of law.” Under our system of justice, everyone is equal before the law. Those accused of crimes are entitled to certain constitutional protection, which we must cherish, and the victims of a crime — whether a Bill Gates or the poorest street-sweeper in a slum — are entitled to the same respect. (In the Middle Ages, the law required a greater punishment for killing a rich man or noble than it did for killing a peasant or a laborer. Our law recognizes no such distinctions.) So, too, with class- or group-based distinctions. Is it worse to kill a man because he is foreign-born than it is to kill him to steal his car? Is it worse to kill a woman because she is black than because she cut you off in traffic? Is it worse to beat up a fat sissy boy if the bullies think their victim is gay, or if they dislike him because he is fat? Crime is crime; assault is assault. All deserve punishment.

1998 Ron Paul 122:10
Hateful thoughts may be disagreeable, but they are not crimes in themselves. The crimes that result from hateful thoughts — whether vandalism, assault or murder — are already punishable by existing statutes.

1998 Ron Paul 122:11
In a speech at the University of Texas last year, libertarian activist Gene Cisewski said: “We should be anti-violence, period. Any act of violence has to be punished swiftly and severely and it shouldn’t matter who the victim is. The initiation of force is wrong and it doesn’t matter why — the mere fact you had a motive is enough.” Cisewski acknowledged the good intentions of those who propose hate-crime laws. He noted that “the reason for the call for (such laws) comes from bad enforcement of the laws.” Police and prosecutors have been willing to look the other way when victims came from unfavored groups. Luckily, in the Shepard case, the authorities seem unwavering in their prosecution. This is, unfortunately, not always the case.

1998 Ron Paul 122:12
The answer, Cisewski suggested, and I agree, is that “we hold every law enforcement official and every court official who administers justice to the standard that every American is guaranteed equal protection under the law.” Hate-crime laws set up certain privileged categories of people, defined by the groups to which they belong, and offers them unequal protection under the law. This is wrong. It is sad to see a young man’s personal misfortune used by various special-interest groups to advance such an agenda.

1998 Ron Paul 122:13
We are all shocked and dismayed by the assault on Shepard. Such brutality cannot, should not be countenanced. Let us not multiply the crimes of his attackers by writing bad law in response.


1998 Ron Paul Chapter 122
The text of this chapter was inserted in the section of Congressional Record entitled “Extensions of remarks” and was not spoken on the House floor.

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