Congressman Cohen Supports Hate Crime Legislation
Madam Speaker, some time ago this House passed the Hate Crime Bill, and I was one of the sponsors and one of the supporters. Since that time, there has been a group of right-winged evangelical Republicans, national in scale, who have tried to influence preachers in my district, particularly African American preachers, and make them think that that bill will somehow quell their first amendment rights to speak what they think about the Bible and about people's conduct. That's not true whatsoever. That bill contained in it an amendment by Artur Davis that said this in no way affects anybody's first amendment right, and it doesn't. That Hate Crime Bill affects acts of violence, not acts of thought or speech; never has in this country's history and never will.
There are the Ten Commandments that we have and we've honored for many years, and one of the Commandments is, ``Thou shalt not bear false witness.'' Well, in Memphis, Tennessee, that group has borne false witness in trying to question the Hate Crimes Bill and the votes of the Members of this House and, hopefully, the Senate when they pass that bill. It only affects violence, and violence aimed at any group is wrong. And if it's aimed at a group to intimidate, it's even more wrong.