1984 and 2007

I remember reading 1984 back in the day and marveling at Newspeak and thought crimes. Reading such things really was science fiction, then. Those things couldn’t happen. Or so I thought. Maybe Orwell was just a forward-thinking kind of guy. Or maybe I was just young.

The reason I bring this up is because the U.S. House has passed a “thought crimes” bill (AKA hate crimes legislation) which I think will put us in the United States in a condition similar to that of Orwell’s characters. Supposedly, the purpose of the bill is to make penalties stiffer for crimes involving sexual orientation or gender identity. Personally, I am wondering why crimes against people because of their gender identity deserve a stiffer penalty than those committed against, say, a child, an elderly person or law enforcement. I haven’t heard a satisfactory explanation for that yet.

More than that, though, as a Christian I am worried that the passage of this bill could muzzle the ideals of freedom of speech on which this country was founded. It seems to me that some of the judiciary branch of our government are interpreting laws without honoring the intent with which they were written, preferring instead to look to Europe as the basis for their decisions. Such an attitude, I am afraid, could lead to identifying sermons that protest a homosexual lifestyle as “thought crimes.”

What I found as I was researching this bill was sort of scary. According to Citizenlink, because many people fear what the fallout from this bill will be:

Republicans attempted to add a simple amendment protecting the rights of people of faith. The amendment, put forward by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., read: “Nothing in this section limits the religious freedom of any person or group under the Constitution.” Guess what? Every Democrat voted against it, and the measure failed.

I hope that you will contact your state senators and let them know how you feel about this bill. President Bush has already vowed to veto it, and the bill did not pass with enough votes to override a veto. Nevertheless, I think the people we have elected to represent us need a clear message, that being that violent crimes against ANY individual deserve strong penalties.

My school kids say the pledge every morning, and they repeat this line–“with liberty and justice for all.” Let’s pray our country stays that way.



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