Smackdown in the Sixth: Court Rejects Challenge to Hate Crimes Law

The ruling affirms the dismissal of a challenge to the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act, with an opinion that may have implications for challenges to school antibullying policies.

Posted by MK on 8/7/12

Part I

The federal appeals court for the Sixth Circuit has, in a case called Glenn v. Holder, affirmed the dismissal of a constitutional challenge to the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). Because the arguments raised in the challenge parallel arguments made against school antibullying laws, the court’s resounding rejection of the challenge might prove helpful to safe-schools advocates, to a limited extent at least. On the other hand, at least one statement from the court’s decision helps perpetuate a myth that can harm efforts to enact safe-schools measures.

This post looks at the court’s critical–even derisive–treatment of the plaintiffs’ constitutional arguments, and it quotes some of the court’s (highly amusing) language that belittles the plaintiffs’ extremist position.

In a follow-up post, I’ll comment on how the court’s rejection of the claims could help LGBT-equal-rights advocates in debates over safe-schools legislation. I’ll also offer some thoughts on the one statement in the court’s decision that I find decidedly unhelpful to those pushing for stronger antibullying laws.

Read the full post, and see why I call it a smackdown

The Anti-Gay Policy that Dare not Speak its Name (or, an Exercise in Insulting the Reader)

A stamp issued on February 8, 1960, for the 50th anniversary of the Boy Scouts in the U.S. As interpreted by the organization’s current leadership, the Scout oath is incompatible with being openly gay or bisexual.

News and commentary continue to sprout up all over the Internet about the recent reaffirmation by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) of its anti-gay policy. I’m pleased to see all the coverage, as it draws attention to an important issue affecting millions of young people. Plus, most of the coverage has been favorable, or at least fair, to those advocating for equality and inclusiveness. Among the BSA news items that most struck me, however, was a piece written by the chief scout executive, Bob Mazzuca, and the BSA’s national president, Wayne Perry; together they penned a defense of the policy for a recent installment of the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” series. I’m not sure what the authors intended, but their contribution to the debate is so evasive and transparently inaccurate that it’s much worse than merely unpersuasive: It’s also an insult to the reader.  

Continue reading “The Anti-Gay Policy that Dare not Speak its Name (or, an Exercise in Insulting the Reader)”