Artur Davis “Explains” His NO Vote on the Matthew Shepard Act

His office staff sent this statement to Equality Alabama and Left In Alabama (and others, I’m sure):

“Two years ago, I voted for federal hate crimes legislation. Since casting that vote, a number of my constituents have made it very clear to me that they disagreed with this vote, and I have tried to weigh their arguments carefully.

Some of the objections have been based on distortions of what this bill actually does. Other objections have reflected nothing more than animosity toward some of the groups who would be covered. Candidly, I have not given a lot of weight to arguments based on groundless claims or fears. But as I have thought more deeply about this issue, there is an argument from my constituents that I have not been able to answer.

Some of my constituents ask why our federal laws should pick out some Americans for more protections than others. Some wonder why, in a culture that rejects violence against any human being, we should say that an attack on a black, or a woman, or a gay individual should be punished more severely than an attack on someone who happens to be a senior citizen, or a soldier, or a teacher. Others ask why some motives based on certain ideas should be punished by our criminal laws more aggressively than others.

The people raising these issues are in my opinion not bigoted people. They are Americans who are advancing fundamental questions about just what equal protection under the law should mean. After a lot of reflection, I have decided that I do not have good answers as to why our laws should not protect all of our people with the same force, and for that reason, I have changed my vote to a “no” on the federal hate crimes bill.”

So we’re to believe that he had a sudden epiphany that hate crimes laws are completely unnecessary.  Yeah, right. I eagerly await his sponsorship of a bill to overturn the current hate crimes statute.  You know, the one that covers race, color, religion and national origin.  Shall I hold my breath?  I think not.

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14 Responses to “Artur Davis “Explains” His NO Vote on the Matthew Shepard Act”

  1. Kristopher says:

    I take the man at his word…but he’s just wrong. The answer to the argument he’s being challenged by is the same answer for why we have race, color, religion and national origin under special protection. We all hope for the day that there is no need to protect these classes of individuals, but sexual orientation is class of citizens who need the protection.

  2. Jessica says:

    Because, no one is running around going, “Let’s kill all the teachers” or “Let’s kill all the left-handed people”…there ARE people running around (in this state especially) saying “Let’s kill all the gay people.”

    Not to mention the fact that people who are gay or transsexual are far more likely to experience violence, and when they do, it is likely to be more extreme. Therefore, there are stricter punishments in order to deter criminals.

    Not to mention the fact that when you do not punish this mentality of hatred, it spreads. People who commit hate crimes need to know that these acts are absolutely unacceptable.

    What’s next? Saying lynchings are the same as a robbery? I think not.

  3. Kathy says:

    What’s next? Saying lynchings are the same as a robbery?

    Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said exactly that this week, claiming that the murder of Matthew Shephard was just a robbery gone wrong and saying it was a “hoax” used to justify hate crime laws.

  4. Tricia says:

    I despise Mr. Davis more every day. I hope his run for Governor fails and he slinks off into obscurity.

  5. Joe says:

    Jessica,
    I can document what you say, since an abduction occurred in my neighborhood last month where the thugs told the victim they did not want any “whites or faggots living in the south side” (of Bessemer). They threatened to burn him in his car. He was lucky.

    The thugs have not been apprehended, by the way.

  6. Kathy says:

    Nope, no hate there, Joe. No attempt to terrorize a community. Nothing to see, move along.

    /sarcasm

  7. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Artur Davis = Alabama’s Zell Miller.

  8. Jonathan says:

    When did murder stop being murder? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again an innocent human life taken is the most heinous of crime.

    Just b/c the victim happens to be white, black, yellow, christian, jew, muslim, hindu, straight, gay, trans, male or female makes no difference.

    Is one person’s life worth more than another? I thought we were supposed to stand for equality?

  9. Kathy says:

    Jonathan, the law takes intent into account in many different circumstances. I’ll quote myself from a 2007 post:

    I wish there were no need for hate crime laws. It would be nice if no one ever targeted those perceived as gay (or the wrong race, gender, religion, etc.) with the intent to terrorize not only the individual attacked but also others perceived as gay (or the wrong race, gender, religion, etc.). It would also be a good thing if similar crimes were prosecuted in similar ways, regardless of the identity of the victim, but there are still those who believe that “gay panic” is a legitimate excuse for beating the crap out of another human being. And people like this woman.

    and from the comments:

    The criminal justice system has always considered motivation when determining punishment for a crime — mitigating factors, aggravating factors. I think most people consider terrorism-related murders to be more heinous than a robbery gone bad because the intent is to terrorize not just the murder victims but an entire community. Unfortunately, when the community is an already marginalized group of people, it’s far too easy to blame the victim (”black people should know to stay out of that part of town”, “she looks Mexican, so she must be illegal”, “he made a pass at me”, etc.) and let the perpetrator off with a lighter sentence than s/he would have received if the victim had been wealthy and/or influential.

  10. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Jonathan,

    Unfortunately, as Artur Davis has not introduced legislation to remove enhanced penalties based upon crimes targeting a victim’s race, religion, gender, or veteran status, I can only conclude the following:

    1) Artur Davis believes that hate crimes are necessary
    2) Artur Davis is not opposed to hate crimes, just including people unpopular with the bigots he is pandering to.

    Did Artur Davis stand up against using hate crimes penalties against those that targeted black churches? Just curious.

  11. This is one issue where I have to disagree with you, Kathy. I actually am one of those people who can’t understand what it is that hate crime legislation does that isn’t already covered in other laws. A murder is a murder whether the person is black, white, man, woman, straight, or gay. Threat of violence is still threat of violence. Assault is still assault. Kidnapping is still kidnapping. Rape is still rape. And penalties are typically more severe if the crime is premeditated and/or more severe. If the person is a straight, white male, the crime is no less severe. So why is this something that’s needed for ANY group?

    And to answer Tom’s question before he directs it at me, I’m not Artur Davis. My response is not so much to defend him in any way but instead to address the underlying issue.

  12. Kathy says:

    I’m not sure we disagree completely. This is an issue where I can appreciate the arguments on both sides. Those who say a crime is a crime, no matter who the victim is, have a point. But as I said above, prosecutors, judges, and juries consider intent all the time when they are making decision about specific crimes. Intent to terrorize seems to me to be a reasonable factor to take into account. Whether hate crimes laws are the best way to address our past history of excusing/mitigating crimes against minorities is another question.

    In any case, my point here is that I think Davis is being disingenuous. If we are going to have hate crimes laws, they certainly should cover LGBT victims who are targeted because of their sexual orientation/gender identity. He’s voted to include them in the past, but now that he’s running for Governor of Alabama, he magically changes his tune. I won’t buy his excuse until he starts proposing legislation to overturn the current laws, and I’m pretty sure there will be ice skating competitions in hell before that happens.

  13. Here’s what I’m thinking… He’s entitled to change his mind, as are all people, but particularly him if his constituents make it an issue. He is representing THEM, after all. I have nothing but respect for a politician who takes into serious account the feelings of his constituents. However, like you noted, it does seem less than genuine without him proposing counter legislation or at least with a strong public statement addressing his newfound stance.

    I don’t think that will happen even if he’s serious, though, and here’s why. Enacting hate crime legislation is one thing. Repealing it is a whole other ballgame. If you think the press is negative now, just imagine what you’d see if such legislation was introduced.

    I’m not saying that he should or shouldn’t introduce such legislation. And again, I’m not necessarily coming to his defense on the issue. To be honest, hate crime legislation just isn’t an issue for me for the reasons above, so I don’t think a decision one way or the other would really sway me. I’m merely speculating here as to why he might be doing (or not doing) these things.

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