For some strange reason, fundamentalist Christians often seem to think that they are one and the same thing. Yep, the fundies are still whinging about this bill known as HR1592 or the Matthew Shepard Act/Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act 2007, which passed the House early in May.
OneNewsNow has this article about the act. Steve Cohen(D-Tennessee) rightly pointed out that the bill has nothing to do with speech and that the Religious Right was distorting the bill by claiming it affects their right to free speech. The fundies got on their soapbox by saying that:
"But Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) says the bill does indeed threaten the First Amendment rights of pastors and churches.
"He [Cohen] said it was a lie -- when, in fact, if you read the legislation it doesn't go any further than what we have presently in place as far as actual murders and mayhem and assaults; but it moves into the thought police side in saying you can't talk about beliefs and values that you've long held. The fact of the matter is that if you do, we may indeed be able to pull you in as an incentive to hate violence. That's a chilling effect," says Walberg."
This claim from the Right is just plain false. The bill covers violence, not speech. Anyone who actually reads the text of the bill would find that damn obvious. Besides, the Bill cannot overturn the First Amendment anyway, and if it genuinely did conflict with the first amendment, it wouldn't be allowed to be made law.
Although hate speech can often help to lead to hate violence by creating an intolerant environment, it is quite clearly not the same thing, and people shouldn't be punished for their views and should have the right to express those views. Hate violence, on the other hand is quite clearly unacceptable.
These fundamentalists should learn that you can object to someone's opinion without wanting to beat them up.