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The Media’s Hogwash on Hate Crimes By: Tanya Metaksa
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, August 30, 2001


THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT according to Exodus states, "Thou shalt not kill." (Exodus 20:13) God never envisioned some victims as being worth more than others; he just stated killing is a sin. Yet the media sensationalizes only those killings that advance the liberal agenda.

During the last election season, the Democrats, led by President Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore, kept beating the drum for "hate crime" legislation. To ensure that Democratic candidates received votes from special interests, they included gays, women and the disabled as groups that would benefit from such laws. Promoting federal hate crime legislation became political vote pandering. The National Association of Colored People (NAACP) fanned the "hate crimes" flames by using the heinous crime against James Byrd in an anti-Bush political ad.

Democrats, while allegedly standing for promoting diversity, tolerance and non-violence, advocate the idea that a crime committed against a member of one of the above groups is more heinous than a crime committed against anyone else.

Like gun control legislation "hate crime" laws are political. The liberal media exploits news stories for their political value, rather than their news value. For instance, there was a significant difference in coverage of two murders with homosexual overtones: Matthew Shepard, who was murdered by anti-homosexual bigots in Wyoming, and the case of 13 year-old Jesse Dirkhising, who was raped and then killed by two homosexuals in Benton County, Arkansas. According to an article by Toby Harnden in the Electronic Telegraph

In the month after Jesse's death, a newspaper database search yielded 46 articles about him. In the month after Mr. Shepard's murder, there were 3,007 articles, including 45 in the New York Times and 28 in the Washington Post.

Even Andrew Sullivan writing in the liberal New Republic last March acknowledged that "This discrepancy isn't just real. It's staggering."

We see unbalanced media coverage of crimes everywhere. Take the case of Steven Abrams, who went on a rampage at the Early Childhood Learning Center in Costa Mesa, California. Steven Abrams told police that as he drove his automobile by the Center he decided, "to execute those children." And he did. He drove his 30-year-old Cadillac through the chain link fence, upended the jungle gym and drove into the 40 small children who were playing there. The carnage that Abrams left behind was gruesome. Two children died – 4 year-old Sierra Soto and 3-year-old Brandon Wiener – and five others, four children and a teacher’s aide were injured. The story made local news for a day or so.

On the other hand, when Buford Furrow attacked the Jewish Community Center three months later and fired some 70 rounds from an UZI submachine gun, miraculously not killing anyone at the Center, the story made headline news around the country for weeks. It prompted President Clinton to call for federal hate crimes legislation even though a 1968 law already made it a federal offense to commit a crime motivated by racial or ethnic prejudice.

Using any objective criteria, Abrams’ crime was more heinous. Yet, the media played up the ethnic and gun angles of Furrow’s crimes to paint a picture of a gun owner who hated Jews, while Abrams had a non-biased hatred for all schoolchildren. The national media is interested in "hate crimes" only when particular segments of the population are victims.

The media’s choosiness regarding stories on racial and ethnic hatred can sometimes take unexpected forms. Take the story of Yankel Rosenbaum, a Hasidic Jew, who was stabbed to death by a gang of black youths. Some ten years ago, a car driven by a Jew in the Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY accidentally struck and killed a young black child. This incident set off a 3-day reign of terror in the neighborhood as mobs of black young men shouting such slogans as "Heil Hitler" looted stores owned by local Jewish merchants, destroyed cars, and attacked homes. During those days when the police were mysteriously absent, Yankel Rosenbaum, who was a Jew in the wrong place at the wrong time, was murdered. Unlike in the Furrow attack on the Jewish Community Center no one called for "hate crimes" legislation.

"Thou shalt not kill" never included the notion that government can legislate designated victim groups. "Thou shalt not kill" applies uniformly, regardless of size, shape, religious beliefs, ethnic background, or race of the victim. Killing is a sin, and all victims should be equal under the law.


Tanya K. Metaksa is the former executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. She is the author of Safe, Not Sorry a self-protection manual, published in 1997. She has appeared on numerous talk and interview shows such as "Crossfire," the "Today" show, "Nightline," "This Week with David Brinkley" and the "McNeil-Lehrer Hour," among others.


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