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Thought Crimes
(Alert 2/24/03)

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Animal Farm, by George Orwell

Threat Assessment: House Bill 85, "Hate Crimes Amendments," by Democrat Rep. David Litvack, will likely be voted on tomorrow morning (Monday) on the house floor. This bill would establish thought crimes, would grant special rights for groups of people, and would place people on unequal grounds before the law.

Below is additional information on the bill. Read what you can, but it is very important to take action immediately!



2. The Dangers of HB 85 & Thought Crimes Legislation.

   The False Notion of "Group Rights"

    There is Only One Group to Worry About

    Thought Crimes Demeans Victims

    Thought Crimes Destroys Community

    Human Beings Are Too Fallible to Judge Thought Crimes

    We Are All Guilty of Bias & Prejudice

3. Utah State GOP Central Committee Takes Firm Stand Against HB 85.

4. Additional Secular & Religious Resources.



There is little time! HB 85 will likely be voted on tomorrow' (Monday). Therefore:

1. Call (and, if possible, fax) your representative at the capitol and tell him to publicly and vehemently stand against HB 85 and ANY thought crimes legislation. Tell him to motivate his colleagues to do the same. Tell him that thought crimes will only divide our community, and will destroy our American system of fairness and equality under the law.

House main number: (801) 538-1029

House main fax: (801) 538-1908

If you need help finding your legislator, visit our elected official contact page.

Note: Make sure you identify yourself and your contact information, the legislator you want to reach, and keep the message succinct and relatively short. Because of the volume of email messages that senators and representatives receive, your email message may never be considered in time.

2. Attend the press conference and rally tomorrow (Monday) evening at 6:00 PM at the state capitol rotunda. This event is being organized by "Citizens for Equality Under the Law," a coalition of groups, families and individuals who oppose HB 85. They will be joined by the Utah Republican Party Leadership, Frank Mylar (the sponsor of the resolution calling for opposition to HB 85), and many other groups who are bound together by the conviction that "all men are created equal."

Bring your families! Bring a plate of cookies, brownies, or some donuts to share. For more information, contact Maryann at ronandmaryann@hotmail.com

3. Forward this message to your family, friends, and any activists you know. Encourage them to voice their concerns and get involved.

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2. The Dangers of HB 85 & Thought Crimes Legislation

House Bill 85, "Hate Crimes Amendments," by Democrat Rep. David Litvack, would create enhanced penalties for defendants who select their victim because of some "bias or prejudice." From the bill (lines 20-25):

(1) If the trier of fact finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, in committing an offense, selected the victim or the property primarily because of actual bias or prejudice against a group, as demonstrated by the defendant's actions related to the commission of the offense, the enhanced penalty for a:

(a) class B misdemeanor is a class A misdemeanor;

(b) class A misdemeanor is a third degree felony...

And from lines 51-52:

(6) As used in this section, "group" means the race, color, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, or gender of any individual or group of persons.

The False Notion of "Group Rights"

HB 85 and other attempts to legislate thoughts are based upon the false notion of "group rights." Group rights have been espoused by the likes of Karl Marx, who enjoyed dividing society into groupsor classesof people, and then pitting these groups against each other in conflict.

In contrast, the Declaration of Independence claims that "all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." Thomas Jefferson spoke in his first inaugural speech of "equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion" and that if we ever departed from this principle "in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."

The rights of the individual, regardless of his/her race, gender, or affiliations are pre-eminent and should be vigorously defended without regard to these characteristics. The blindfold of Lady Justice (Justitia) represents impartiality and her scales represent generality and uniformity. In America, Justice is supposed to treat all victims and perpetrators equally.

In essence, "group rights" set men and groups of men apart by their belief systems rather than by their actions.

There is Only One Group to Worry About

History and the nature of people prove that individual rights can only be weakened when the false notion of group rights is accepted and enforced by the force of law. There is only one group our justice system should be concerned about: the entire human family.

Thought Crimes Demeans Victims

Contrary to arguments put forth by thought crimes proponents, group rights actually demeans victims. Take, as just one of many examples, a woman who is sexually assaulted because the perpetrator hates her sex or race. Thought crimes legislation dictates that the crime against this woman is worse than if a woman was sexually assaulted because the perpetrator was indifferent to her womanhood.

In addition to the insult, think of the complexity of attempting to separate crimes of hate from crimes of indifference, jealousy, love, religious piety, spoiled-ness, rich elitism, etc. Will we begin now to put all emotions on the table and start judging people based upon a hierarchy of philosophies and feelings?

Thought Crimes Destroys Community

Putting people on different levels before the law will destroy community, foster resentment and bigotry, and will Balkanize Utah. What is ironic is that thought crimes are diametrically opposed to Martin Luther King’s vision for society. King publicly promoted the idea that people should not be judged by their creed or the color of their skin. Said he:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’"

Thought crimes, by definition, require that we reject this vision and instead scrutinize victims and victimizers by their beliefs, rather than judging all by the blindfold and scales of impartiality, generality, and uniformity.

Case in point: In a recent news interview with KSL 1160 AM, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff implied that he is "expecting a lot of heat, especially from the right wing of the Republican party," for his promotion of thought crimes legislation this legislative session. Are people who believe that human beings are fallible therefore part of the Republican right-wing? This example is indicative of the divisive problem of focusing on groups and group rights, rather than individuals.

Human Beings Are Too Fallible to Judge Thought Crimes

The following is what we expect our juries to perform in the courtroom:

1) Determine whether a particular action or crime was performed by the accused;

2) Whether the action or crime was an accident or purposely committed;

3) Whether the action or crime was committed with premeditation (or whether there was a conspiracy involvedeven more premeditation);

4) Whether there was malicious intent to do harm.

These are enormous, difficult questions for jurors to grapple with and attempt to satisfactorily answer. Wise jurors attempt in their deliberations to focus on specific actions rather than the perpetrator’s belief system. In fact, the perpetrator's belief system need only be broached to perhaps assist in finding answers to the above questions.

Isn’t that enough work for judges and juries to get right and to do well? A juror is supposed to answer these questions and also remain impartial, general, and uniformtreating all victims and perpetrators equally in their final deliberation.

Consider the ludicrous nature of this type of deliberations that would occur in the above example of the woman who was sexually assaulted. In addition to questions of accident, premeditation, and intent, with thought crimes in place, jurors would have to consider new questions such as the following:

  • Would the perpetrator have sexually assaulted a man if given the same opportunity?

  • Did he do it because he hates women in particular? Or just women of a particular color?

  • Did he do it because he was just mad at the world? Or was he beaten as a child?

Just where is the victim in all these new deliberations? She is largely forgotten and the courtroom turns from her violation to the philosophies and nuances that may exist in the mind of the accused.

I have been called up for jury duty, and I was scared to death at my responsibilities. It would be unreasonable and wrong to force mea human beingto judge a perpetrator’s philosophies and belief systems along with everything else I was tasked to do. It is simply not within the power and authority of a biased and imperfect man.

We Are All Guilty of Bias & Prejudice

The peaceful beauty of our traditional system of jurisprudence is that the accused is entitled to be judged by a jury of his peers who are assumed to be above the crime with which he is charged. With thought crimes, no such presumption can be made, because we are all guilty of thinking ill of some one or some group at one time or another.

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3. Utah State GOP Central Committee Takes Firm Stand Against HB 85.

On Saturday, the Utah State Republican Party Central Committee, the governing executive body of the party, overwhelmingly passed the following resolution:

Resolution Condemning Thought Crimes Legislation

Whereas, The Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."; and

Whereas, The Utah State Republican Party Platform states under the heading of "Equal Rights" that, "We believe that no individual is entitled to rights that exceed or supersede the God-given individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Utah,"; and

Whereas, The Republican Party was established under the belief that all men are of equal worth and protection under an impartial law; and

Whereas, Punishment of thought would reduce protection under the law for crime victims whose perpetrators were not motivated by disapproved philosophies and beliefs, and would draw judicial proceedings away from the tragedy of the victim and the actual crime, and into the religious, political, and other beliefs of the perpetrator; and

Whereas, Thought crimes legislation, such as that proposed by Democrat David Litvack in House Bill 85 would establish a dangerous mechanism in Utah law under which freedom of conscience and religious belief is undermined and may be ultimately threatened; now, therefore let it be

Resolved, That the Governor, the Attorney General, and Republican members of the House and Senate are implored to uphold the letter and spirit of the nation’s founding documents and the Republican platform, and to oppose HB 85 and other thought crime legislation.

Well over 100 voting Republican leaders from all over the state attended this meeting and voiced their support for this resolution. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff passed around a lengthy handout and also spoke in favor of HB 85. His arguments were handily rebutted.

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4. Additional Secular & Religious Resources

For additional secular research and opinion on this issue, I recommend:

1) "Hate Crimes and the Reversion to Medieval Society," authored by Morgan Reynolds, Director of the Criminal Justice Center for the National Center for Policy Analysis, and published by The Texas Public Policy Foundation

2) "Crimes are Defined by Actions, Not a Hierarchy of Thoughts," by the Sutherland Institute

Below are several religious citations taken from the New Testament (King James Version), as well as the Book of Mormon that may be helpful to you as you discuss this issue with legislators and neighbors.

New Testament Citations

"…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons…" — Acts 10:34, The New Testament

"…Call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work…" 1 Peter 1:17, The New Testament

The New Testament portrays the distinct impression that God alone is qualified and empowered to judge crimes of thought:

"…He that searcheth the hearts…" Romans 8:27, The New Testament

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out!" Romans 11:33, The New Testament

Book of Mormon Citations

"Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds… For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds." Alma 30:7,11, The Book of Mormon

"Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief." Alma 1:17, The Book of Mormon

According to the teachings of the Book of Mormon, laws against beliefs are not only unwise, but strictly contrary to the commands of the Creator. As the Nephite King Mosiah attempted to transfer power from himself to a system of judges elected by the people, he further reinforced the assertion that God had inspired the Nephite system of laws:

"Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord." Mosiah 29:25, The Book of Mormon

Daniel B. Newby

P.S. The preceeding message was my personal opinion. To receive an alert on this subject directly, email me at daniel.newby@velocitus.net.


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