Civil liberties

Protecting Veterans

Prior to their pedophile trickery with the hate crimes bill on Tuesday, the House Republicans had attempted to get veterans specifically named as a protected group in the legislation.

Since publishing my Huffington Post column yesterday, I've received more than a few wingnut emails asking me why I don't want to protect veterans from hate crimes. Once again, I'm either referred to as either "Bobby" or "asshole." The former is supposed to somehow insult me. Which is weird.

Anyway, it's almost too silly to bother with this attack, but I couldn't resist replying to a couple of them because the counterpoint is obvious: "If veterans were named in the bill would you support it?"

The answer is obviously "no." So why wouldn't these wingnuts want to support veterans? After all, without specifically listing the word "veterans," the bill does, in fact, cover veterans -- as long as the veterans are human beings. The bill helps to protect Americans who possess a gender, race, religion, disability or ethnic origin. Are the wingnuts suggesting veterans are none of these things?

Dave Neiwert at Crooks & Liars has been on top of this for weeks, and crystalizes the distinction between a "universal trait" and a "job":

Not everyone ever joins an armed service. Veteranhood is a not a universal trait. But the categories of bias motivation -- race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and sexual preference -- are universal human traits.

He wraps with this powerful statement:

Bias-crime laws aren't merely about "affirming the equality of all people": they're about preserving very real, basic freedoms -- freedom of association, freedom of travel, the freedom to live where we choose, and most of all the freedom from fear -- for every American. The only "freedom" upon which they impinge is that of violent yahoos to threaten and intimidate and take away the freedom of others.

Is that the kind of freedom Sean Hannity and Steve King wish to protect? It seems so. They'll even lie through their teeth about it.