To the editor:
The Tuesday, Oct. 20 edition of the Enterprise carried a news story titled, “This is not acceptable here.” Inside this story was a report about Rep. Sandy Newsome (R-Cody) teaming up with Sara Burlingame (D-Laramie) to craft a “hate crimes bill.”
Similar legislation to this has been attempted in Wyoming for years but has always been rejected for good reason. It is very dangerous to attempt to enact laws that criminalize people’s thoughts and speech. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, to include speech that is unmannerly and even downright rude. While we can deplore rudeness, we should not criminalize it. Presuming to read another’s thoughts so as to attribute motives to criminal acts is chilling.
Voting for our legislators once every two years is a minimal response to our civic duty as citizens. We need to be observant of what is being done down in Cheyenne during the legislative session. Rep. Newsome is quoted as saying: “This isn’t ‘1984’ George Orwell.” Except that it is – or could be under the proposed law.
Vigilant voters should be watching for the introduction of this bill, be sure to read it, and then contact legislators to ask them to vote against it. The wording of the bill is irrelevant – all “hate crimes bills” are unnecessary and unconstitutional. Statutes already in place address criminal behavior. The purpose of such bills is to bully the citizenry into group-think. Orwellian, indeed.
(s) sheila leach