This video should become part of the standard training to help people recognize genuine hate crimes.
The commentator said something about seeing "a lot of hate on both sides." Where was the hate of the Christian woman? Was it in her smile as she was assailed and threatened? Was it in trying to pick up the cross that protesters tore from her hands and stomped on? Was it in refusing to shout and curse the angry mob around her? Or was it in having a differing view and daring to express it with a visible symbol (the cross)? Help me spot the hate here.
Update, Nov. 12: Some people have had a hard time imagining that any kind of crime was being committed here. I suggest you imagine what it must have been like for the elderly old woman who showed up at City Hall to stand up for her beliefs, however misguided you think they are. Can you imagine being a short, elderly woman showing up to "stand up for Jesus" by carrying a large cross that you had made? (If that's beyond your abilities, think of an elderly lesbian carrying a rainbow flag at a protest led by angry Mormon missionaries.) As you walk across an open area with your cross raised, you are suddenly surrounded by much bigger people, including large and burly men who begin shouting at you. Some grab the cross away from you and hurl this sacred symbol of your faith toward the ground. A possession of yours has just been stolen by force. The crowd presses in more tightly and begins stomping violently on the cross. They are doing more than simply destroying your possession, which most people ought to be able to recognize as a crime. They are angrily, deliberately, and, yes, hatefully, destroying what they know to be a symbol of your religious belief. Then they continue yelling at you, cursing you, and demanding that you leave, with arms flailing inches from your face. Do you think this might have appeared to be physical and emotional intimidation? Do you think emotions of hate were deliberately and persuasively conveyed? Or is this what you call civil discourse?
This is public property we are talking about, City Hall, not a private club where the woman slipped past the bouncers. She has as much right as they did to be there. Might it be possible that some of her rights were threatened by that group? Will they apologize for the theft, the destruction of property, the intimidation, the verbal and emotional abuse? Of course not.
I am surprised that some of you cannot imagine this being an example of a crime. How much further would it have had to go to qualify? Does the victim have to be maimed, her home burned to the ground, and her Starbucks gift card mangled, before the words "crime" and perhaps even "hate" might begin to apply?
Look, I don't like the whole concept of "hate crimes" since very few crimes qualify as loving in the first place. I prefer criminalizing actions rather than thought. But if "hate crime" is to be a legal concept, why not include this as an example. It's a mild example since the courageous woman wasn't bloodied or killed, and I will certainly admit that some gays have suffered bigotry far more devastating than this. By discussing this case, in no way do I wish to ignore the reality of assaults and other crimes against gays. Crime and hate must stop. But advocating the traditional legal definition of marriage is not an act of hate, however angry it makes some people.
The video is chilling - but you're probably not going to see this played endlessly on every major TV network for the next six months. You're probably not going to hear about this incident at all except on a few fringe blocks. But if the reverse situation had occurred - imagine angry Christians shouting down a peaceful lesbian protester calmly and courageously waving a rainbow banner, then grabbing her banner and stomping it into the earth, then swarming around her with curses and hate, demanding that she leave, and blocking cameras to keep the world from seeing her - can you imagine anything but massive national attention, even international attention, with all sorts of efforts from angry politicians to deal with the "Christian menace"? Can you imagine how such things would play out if the roles were reversed?
So what is a hate crime? Maybe the FBI can give us some guidance. From an FBI page on "hate crime":
Definition:So if people charge at a woman because she's carrying a cross, yell at her, curse at her, grab her cross and destroy it, surround her and shout at her, could that possibly count as intimidation or destruction of property with some twist of bias based on the religion of the victim? Could it possibly be a hate crime? I'm just wondering out loud here. I'm not a lawyer and not even a very good judge of things like love and hate. I had the hardest time spotting the hate of that woman, and I had an even tougher time seeing the love in the actions of the mob with who had "love" all over their protest signs. I guess I'm emotionally dyslexic.
A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.
In response to mounting national concern over crimes motivated by bias, Congress enacted the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990. The law directed the Attorney General to collect data "about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." . . .
As a result, the law enforcement agencies that participate in the national hate crime program collect details about an offender's bias motivation associated with the following offense types: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism of property.