Minnesota lawmakers are mulling a change to state law that would log incidents of alleged bias even when they’re not considered a crime – leading one lawmaker to say the plan would create a database on “thought crimes”.
A bill introduced in January would allow people to report incidents perceived to be bias-related such as insults and alleged verbal attacks that would not fall under hate crimes compiled annually by the state Bureau of Arrest. criminal, according to the St. Cloud Times.
Each alleged incident would include information about the offender and victim perceived to be “relevant to that bias”, according to the law.
“It’s a very insidious and complicit way to put the camel’s nose in the attempt to broaden the scope of government scrutiny of the speech beyond crimes and assaults,” the Republican state rep said. Walter Hudson to Fox News Digital about the bill, which has a companion in the state Senate.
Hudson said he’s concerned that the bill’s language, which encompasses not just race but also gender identity and gender expression, is too broad and could ultimately infringe on religious freedom. He noted that he found the original bill “problematic”, but noted that the wording of the bill had been changed to include “incidents” that do not rise to the level of crimes.
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The bill is replete with terms of “real or perceived” identity, he said.
“So the intent of anyone accused of being biased is irrelevant,” he said.
“The only thing that matters is how the person making the report feels,” he added. “If the person making the report feels like they’ve been the victim of a bias incident, then they’ve been the victim of a bias incident. And we’re going to create a database of all those subjective things, arbitrary, fanciful feelings that people have had, nothing objective or tangible at all.”
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The lawmaker voiced concerns about the bill during a committee hearing earlier this year, when he sounded the alarm that the government was monitoring incidents in which no law had been broken .
When asked what type of incident of hate or alleged bias could fall under the law, Hudson noted that Public Commissioner Rebecca Lucero gave the example of someone shouting an epithet from a window of his car. Lucero did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment at the time of publication.
“It seems very clear, based on their focus on motivation, that they’re more concerned with what’s going on in people’s heads, which is protected speech, and that’s thought crime,” said Hudson said.
Hudson said he thinks the law could “consider trying to essentially profile communities, and the implication is that different communities will be scored based on how much they hate to create narratives for future legislative action.”
Hudson further fears that the bill could be used to “effectively prohibit biblical expression”. He noted that during the committee hearing, when he raised his objections, he did not receive a direct response when he asked whether the provisions of the bill could apply to a person posting on social media their religious beliefs regarding sexuality and gender.
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“…they’re more concerned with what’s going on in people’s heads, which is protected speech, and that’s a thought crime.”
“This presents a direct threat – a chilling effect, to say the least – to the normal and common biblical Christian doctrinal expression; or for that matter, to all Abrahamic religions, for none of them accord with this gender ideology in its orthodox form.”
The bill also drew criticism from the left, prompting a letter of concern from the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.
In a letter sent to Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee Chair Kelly Moller, which was provided to Fox News Digital, ACLU Policy Director Julia Decker warned that “the expansive provisions of HF181 introduce the possibility that speech and/or associations unrelated to a particular action may be used inappropriately to infer biased motivation.”
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“While an individual’s words or associations may be repugnant to some, if not directly related to a specific action, using them to impose criminal penalties raises constitutional concerns,” Decker wrote.
Hudson said the bill was unlike any other legislation he was aware of in the United States.
“I don’t believe there is anywhere else in the United States where the government is documenting incidents that are not crimes in an effort to try to portray communities as being more hateful than others,” he said. he declared, adding that the law he hopes will pass. resembles legislation one would expect to find in Canada or the UK
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“There are other countries, like our northern neighbors, that are further along in this program,” he said. “So it’s not even a slippery slope argument. It’s looking through the fence and not wanting to go.”