U.S. Rep. Barney Frank has some explaining to do; he was one of only three congressmen to vote against the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act,” H.R. 5037, which would prohibit demonstrations at any national cemetery, military funeral or memorial service within 500 feet one hour before, during and one hour after the ceremony.
After attending the funeral of a New Bedford Marine killed in Iraq on Tuesday, Frank was one of three congressmen who held their noses and voted against the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act” and for freedom of speech.
“We are here to defend the right of (expletives) to be obnoxious,” the outspoken and openly gay congressman said. He added that he thought the bill was too broad to stand up to a court challenge.
“I think it’s very likely to be found unconstitutional,” said Frank (D-Newton). “It’s true that when you defend civil liberties you are typically defending people who do obnoxious things . . . You play into their hand when you let them provoke you into overdoing it. I don’t want these thugs to claim America is hypocritical.”
Reading his explanation of his vote, you can't help but see the hypocrisy.
Rep. Frank is most prominent openly gay politician in Washington, and has become an outspoken proponent of hate crime legislation. In a press release on his official congressional website dated May 26, 2005, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 was announced as having been introduced by Congressmen Christopher Shays (R-CT), John Conyers (D-MI) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and yes, Barney Frank (D-MA).
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 will make it easier for federal authorities to prosecute bias crimes, in the same way that the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 helped federal prosecutors combat church arson: by loosening the unduly rigid jurisdictional requirements under federal law. Similar legislation filed last year had almost 200 bipartisan cosponsors.
“We realized that we needed to make a small change to last year’s bill by explicitly including transgendered persons for protection under this bill. It is important to carefully identify those people who are most likely to be singled out for pernicious acts,” said Congressman Barney Frank.
For the year 2003, the most recently available data, the FBI compiled reports from law enforcement agencies across the country identifying 7,489 criminal incidents that were motivated by an offender’s irrational antagonism toward some personal attribute associated with the victim. Law enforcement identified 9,100 victims arising from 8,715 separate criminal offenses. Religious bias and sexual orientation bias each accounted for 16.4 percent of reported single-bias hate crimes, followed by ethnicity/national origin bias with 14.2 percent and disability bias with 0.5 percent of single bias-motivated offenses. It is widely believed that hate crimes are seriously under-reported.
Under federal hate crimes legislation, the primary responsibility in prosecuting these crimes lies with the state. The legislation operates to give assistance to the states. Extending the federal law would allow state and local authorities to take advantage of federal investigative resources and personnel in bringing cases based on state law.
Rep. Frank is on the record saying that it is not okay to hate someone based on religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability, but it is okay to hate someone who gave his or her life to defend the United States of America as a dutiful member of our Armed Forces.
While you could argue that demonstrating at a funeral is not a crime because it is a non-violent act--peaceable assembly, I suppose--it is nonetheless an offensive action. If Rep. Frank believes that a crime is worse due to a specific bias against a particular minority group, why isn't the "Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act" a worthy piece of legislation that would place some mild restrictions on protests at any national cemetery, military funeral or memorial service? Our soldiers died defending our country, and they deserve respect when laid to rest. It's a sad state of affairs that such legislation is deemed necessary, but the fringe left wing in this country know no boundaries, they have no dignity, or respect.
I'm no fan of “hate crime” legislation--they are by definition based on racism and bigotry--but as long as this sham legislation exists, perhaps someone should propose legislation that adds crimes committed against the military to the list of “hate crimes,” if that will make Rep. Frank think twice about this "Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act" he just voted against. “Hate crime” legislation basically says that while it’s a bad thing to commit a crime against another human being, it is worse if you commit the same crime against someone based on their religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, etc. Isn’t it free speech to hate someone? That’s what Rep. Frank said about those “obnoxious” (expletives) protesting a military funeral in New Bedford.
By levying harsher punishment against someone who commits a “hate crime,” you basically say it’s not as bad to commit a crime against the only group not identified as a minority: able-bodied white men. If like Rep. Frank supports the reverse discrimination of “hate crime” legislation, why can’t he find within himself to say that protesting a military funeral is also a bad thing that ought to be curbed?