06/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Republican Political Hackery and the Hate Crimes Bill

During the same historic week in which marriage equality was passed in Maine, the Republicans -- the self-proclaimed party of emancipation and "the liberty tree" -- attempted to derail hate crimes legislation with some political trickery that succeeded in allowing Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to accuse the Democrats of protecting pedophiles. Stay with me on this.

Rep. Steve King (R-Batshittia) introduced an amendment to the hate crimes bill calling for the term "sexual orientation" to exclude "pedophiles" even though the bill specifically defines sexual orientation as "consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality." Pedophelia, as everyone knows, is nonconsensual no matter who engages in it.

Not only was King insinuating the derogatory stereotype that homosexuals are pedophiles, but his amendment would've further validated this stereotype by writing it into the legal record. By the way, Joe the Plumber -- another very serious leader of the Republican Party -- advanced the same stereotype this week when he said that he'd never let his "gay friends" anywhere near his kids. Classy. Nevertheless, King making this kind of distinction is sort of like amending civil rights legislation with: "the term 'African Americans' shall not include anyone who rapes white women." It elevates a stereotype while denying one exists. Pretty slick -- in a creepy, sinister kind of way.

Obviously, the point of King's amendment was neither to help to separate the LGBT community from nonconsensual sexual deviants, nor was it designed to make sure pedophiles weren't covered under the hate crimes law. King's intention was absolutely to trick Democrats into voting against the amendment -- and they did -- thus allowing the Republicans to say that Democrats are with the pedophiles.

So the Republicans are seeking a way out of their current mess by defining the Democrats as the party of pedophilia, even though the GOP's previous attempts to paint the Democrats as the pro-terrorist, anti-American party failed miserably to prevent landslide Democratic victories in the last two general elections.

But of course King's stupid amendment trick allowed Sean Hannity to repeat throughout his Tuesday night show things like, "Is it safe to say that Democrats were willing to protect pedophiles?" Limbaugh, meanwhile, remarked that the Democrats are "carving out protection for perverts." This from a guy who successfully wiggled out of a legal situation involving the possession of prescription E.D. meds (not in his name) during a stag trip to a destination apparently known for sexual tourism.

Here's the thing, though. Hannity, Limbaugh, King and 166 House Republicans are decidedly against the hate crimes bill. The legislation, as passed by the House, specifically defines hate crimes as being "motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim." Again, Hannity, King and the rest are absolutely opposed to this.

So while the Republicans have vocally and repeatedly expressed their position against "protecting pedophiles," it can be said -- and, quoting King, "it's a matter of record" -- that they're also against protecting women, racial minorities, ethnic minorities, religious people and disabled people, among others.

Get it?

Why don't you want to protect religious people, Hannity? Why don't you want to protect disabled people, Limbaugh? Why don't you want to protect women, Congresswoman Foxx? Why do you, Mr. King, support "legal protections" for criminals who brutalize and often savagely kill Christians, Jewish people, amputees and the mentally challenged -- regardless of whether they're veterans, senior citizens, Republicans or dittoheads? (Contrary to what Hannity was saying on his show about the bill not including veterans, I'm pretty sure veterans can be disabled, female, black, religious or ethnically non-Anglo. Was Hannity expecting the bill to include every occupation, too? Would that've changed his support in some way?)

The House Democrats, for their part, might've missed an opportunity here, though. Perhaps they should've allowed King's derogatory and disingenuous amendment to pass and then quietly pulled it out in conference (should it get that far). This way, the Democrats could've forced King's trickery to backfire against the Republicans. When the bill with the King amendment came up for a vote on the floor, not only would the Republicans have voted against legal protections for all of the above groups, but they would've voted against King's amendment and thus in favor of "carving out legal protections for perverts" and "pedophiles."

The Democrats didn't do this, however. Much to their credit. And that says a lot about how they regard the seriousness of this legislation. Whether or not you agree with the spirit of hate crimes legislation, it's not an issue that lends itself to political hackery. And it doesn't really matter if these are crimes against a hundred people or a thousand people or if it's just one boy in Laramie -- or two black men in Texas -- this is legislation about real people who were (or will be) killed for no reason other than for being perceived as different.

Vote for the bill or vote against it. Support it or denounce it. Make your case with due respect for what this sort of thing involves. Just don't play politics with it.

So you can bet Congressman King and his staff are really, really proud of their clever little hack trap, and I'm sure the scripts for the predictable "liberals are with the pedophiles" ads are already being worked up for the 2010 midterms. The thing is, Americans aren't buying this crap on a stick from the Republicans anymore. Coupled with their lengthy record of incompetence and ridiculousness, it's only succeeding in making them look cheaper and less serious than they were yesterday and the day before.