Alcee Hastings' Defense of Hate Crime Legislation Isn't a Laughing Matter
Let's have a big ol' laugh at a congressman saying "naughty" words on the House floor. That's what NBCMiami.com and the Sun-Sentinel did. Hahaha... ha. NBC even called it "worthy of late-night talk show television."
In Fort Lauderale Rep. Alcee Hastings' comments, he listed a number of words such as "asphyxiphilia," "zoophilia," and "toucherism."
Unfortunately, they didn't add much context. Hastings' speech wasn't some random stream of scientific obscenities; he was trying to make a point about how certain Republicans were trying to make a mockery of the Matthew Shepard Act, as the Awl points out.
The landmark act would add crimes committed against a person with his or her sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity as a motivation to existing federal hate crime legislation. An earlier form of the law was passed by both the House and Senate in 2007, but President Bush vetoed it. The act again passed both houses this week, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
Underlying how pathetic and powerless many of the Republicans in Washington are, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) added an amendment to the act that would retitle it the "Local Law Enforcement Thought Crimes Prevention Act of 2009," and he's also responsible for adding the long list of bizarre terms that would not be covered. Another Republican, Rep. Randy Forbes, wondered if Miss California Carrie Prejean could be prosecuted for a hate crime if she had slapped Perez Hilton. You can't make this up.
Hastings was merely trying to demonstrate how ridiculous this all is. So maybe we should be laughing. Not at Hastings, though, but rather at how powerless and pathetic wingnuts in the federal government have become.
Video after the jump.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.