We know which groups traditionally need protection from hate crimes: People of color. LGBTQ people. Religious and ethnic minorities.
Arkansas is one of only three states without laws that more heavily punish people who commit hate-crimes. But that may soon change. This week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a bipartisan bill that will be brought up when the legislature reconvenes in January.
The bill would “enhance penalties for offenses committed due to a victim’s race, color, religion, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, homelessness, gender identity, sexual orientation, sex, disability, or service in United States Armed Forces.”
The bill would increase jail time or fines up to 20%.
That’s great. I hope it passes. You can read the draft bill here.
Who could possibly be against such legislation?
Say hello to threat-making, COVID-recovering, 2022 Lt. Gov.-wannabe State Sen. Jason Rapert, who lashed out at the very thought of a hate crimes bill. Why is he so angry?
Because the real victims in society are… Republicans.
This is wrong. I just received a ton of calls from some of the very same people this so-called #HateCrimes Bill are trying to give special protections to wishing I would die in the hospital as I battled #COVID19 & pneumonia. Why aren’t you protecting Republican elected officials? https://t.co/djWU3nZE1A
— Jason Rapert (@jasonrapert) August 20, 2020
He’s basically saying that when he was in the hospital with COVID, the people he routinely oppresses through his Christian Nationalism said mean things to him — and MARK HIS WORDS, he will expose them!
As I’ve said before, I don’t condone trolls or threats. But the hate crimes bill isn’t about people saying mean things. It’s not about “special protections” either. It’s about punishing people who commit crimes against certain groups of people more harshly in order to deter would-be attacks.
More to the point, pastors will still be allowed to preach bigotry in their churches. Rapert can trash non-Christians all he wants. No one’s getting in the way of free speech or religious freedom.
But Rapert — blissfully unaware of what it’s like to be in the minority when it comes to his gender, faith, sexual orientation, and (in Arkansas) political party — is intent on making life even worse for groups who have already suffered.
Meanwhile, this is the same guy who’s installed an illegal Ten Commandments monument outside the State Capitol (which is currently the subject of a legal battle). A guy who benefits from Christian privilege wants to make sure no one else ever gets the kind of protection and power that he has.
Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times, who has covered Rapert for years, held nothing back in his assessment of the tweet:
Legal counsel for the senator: Criticizing a state senator for his actions is not a hate crime. It’s speech protected from government punishment. It can be rude and uncivil. I held my own tongue during Rapert’s illness apart from wishing him a speedy recovery.
But here Rapert seems to want to protect people who commit crimes against people he hates. He calls punishing criminals “special protections.”
There’s no other way to put it: Jason Rapert is a batshit crazy liar.
Hell of a campaign slogan for whoever that 2022 Democratic opponent will be.
There’s no justification to oppose a hate-crimes bill — not on general principle, anyway. But Rapert is so wrapped up in his own bubble, surrounded by right-wing Christians who want to use the government to advance their religious views, that he can’t even imagine the sort of hate other people have to put up with often because of people who think like him.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)