Congress, Are Points of View a Crime?

Monisha Bansal and Nathan Burchfiel | Staff Writers | Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Congress, Are Points of View a Crime?

( - The Defense Authorization bill, which provides funding for the Department of Defense, is heading to a conference committee after the Senate passed the measure Monday with an amendment that would extend hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill apparently would aid in the prosecution of "violent crimes motivated by bias" and, among other things, provide federal assistance for "any crime" that is "motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim, or is a violation of the State, local, or Tribal hate crime laws."

The amendment was originally introduced by Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) in April, but the bill died in the Judiciary Committee.

Some observers think the hate crimes legislation goes beyond criminalizing actions and actually criminalizes points of view.

On Tuesday, Cybercast News Service hit Capitol Hill to ask members of Congress if the government should criminalize points of view and which views should be criminalized.

Cybercast News Service interviewed Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Hank Johnson (Ga.), Tim Walz (Minn.), Vic Snyder (Ark.), as well as Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). Click to watch video

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