Monday, December 03, 2007

Letters, I get letters...

I received this from my Senator last Friday. I had signed a petition that went to both of them, but the other one, the one who was running for President doesn't usually bother with my correspondence.

Perhaps I should content myself with the idea that they will allot some money (that will probably never be signed over, like so many other programs) and do some studies. I'm sorry, I'm not!

His letter:


"Dear...,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding federal hate crimes. I appreciate your insight into this complex legal issue.



In April, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S. 1105, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This legislation imposes criminal penalties for willful bodily harm motived by race, religion, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It also authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to provide assistance to state and local governments for the prosecution of crimes motivated by race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. S. 1105 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it awaits consideration.



Recently, the Senate passed H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act. During consideration of this bill, Senator Kennedy introduced an amendment similar to S. 1105. I voted against the amendment. However, it was approved by the Senate. I had several concerns with this amendment. We must be cautious in giving preferential treatment to select classes of victims. Every American is entitled to equal justice regardless of personal characteristics.



However, I voted for an amendment offered by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to authorize $5 million in funding to assist states and local governments in prosecuting hate crimes. The amendment also requires a federal study of the prevalence of hate crimes. At this point the Senate bill will be referred to a conference committee where conferees will resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions of the Defense Authorization Act.



Again thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you would like more information on issues before the Senate, please visit my website at http://roberts.senate.gov. You may also sign up on my home page for a monthly electronic newsletter that will provide additional updates on my work for Kansas.



With every best wish,



Sincerely,





Pat Roberts"


My reply:


"Sir,

I am in my early 50's and have seen a bit of life. I am a Vietnam Era Navy veteran, and was aboard the USS Kittyhawk on the WestPac cruise after several sailors were murdered on board her during race riots. I grew up with my Dad using words that I shan't repeat here to describe people of other races and of other origins because he had grown up in southern Oklahoma and thought that he could and that no one had a right to tell him not to. This included his son, who had his teeth put through his lip for his trouble.

I remember the race riots here in Kansas City and being terrified that my Dad could be killed because one of the Milgram stores he was a supervisor over was in the affected neighborhood. I also remember pondering the irony of that possibility and the language he used to describe the people of that neighborhood!

I remember his Wallace campaign button from those years...

My point, Sir, is that had it not been for the Civil Rights Acts of the mid 1960's, a whole group of citizens would have continued to be treated as they had been for a hundred years before that. It took Federal law, not state or local, to make their abuse stop!

Two years ago, in Lawrence, Kansas on a KU football weekend two students walking down Mass. Avenue were beaten by some Nebraska fans because they thought they were gay. Because they thought they could do that, because they thought they "had the right". Had it happened in other cities in this state, I'm not sure it would have been pursued with the same vigor it was in Lawrence.

Recently, in Montana, a girl was followed and beaten in the same manner. It took letters to the editor of the local newspaper to get an investigation begun there.

There is no excuse for this in this day and time! Until there is a Federal law on the books that says "if you don't deal with this, we will" it will continue just like the crimes we look at as hideous from earlier days in our history!

This is the time, Sir!

Please re-think your position on this?

The child you save could be my grandchild! Or yours!

Sincerely,"



There were many other things I would love to have thrown in, but feared that were it any longer it wouldn't be read at all. As it is, I haven't heard anything back from his office, and usually I get an acknowledgement of receipt.

The last letter that arrived at my home from my other Senator, the one who usually doesn't bother, was addressed to "Ms." and my first name. Guess we know what the former presidential candidate feels about me!

I had planned to post this tonight, but have some shopping I need to slip out and do early tomorrow, so plan on coming home and getting to bed "early" tonight as I possibly can. I have a 40% off coupon for Borders that expires tomorrow, and there is a "Heroes" box set that has Dottie's name written on it if I can get there before work...

alan

17 comments:

Dr. Deb said...

Alan,
That is such a GREAT letter!


hugs,
Deb

Josephine said...

Good letter honey. Good for you for adding your light to the sum of light and doing your bit to try and make the world a kinder, fairer place. I empathise and identify very much with these issues - trans people have it very hard in some places, expecially parts of the Mid West and Southern US. Every year a significant number of trans people are brutally attacked - even murdered in the US. And of course, prejudice and abuse happens here in England too, though mercifully - generally - the situation isn't as bad.

And as for getting a letter addressed to 'Ms'...well, hey,some of us would like that!! ;-)

KellyNerd said...

I cannot tell if you are pulling our legs with this... is this a real response from him??

great letter!

alan said...

Absolutely his response, word for word! Cut and paste from his e-mail, minus my name and address...

alan

msliberty said...

GREAT letter, Alan. And I am so humbled that you chose to include what happened to my friend, Jess, as another example of the horrors of bias-motivated crimes.

The common argument levied against hate crimes legislation is that "all crimes are hate crimes." But attacks motivated by differences in race, gender, or sexual orientation differ from other forms of violence in that they intimidate entire communities of people. And motive is a common distinguishing factor in our existing criminal code. It is the difference between manslaughter and murder. More importently, unless the law requires statistics to be accumulated on these types of crimes, we will never know the scope of the problem.

Homophobia is such an ugly thing. It robs people of their rights to live a fully integrated, legally protected life in this country. And for what? The physical, emotional and psychological costs are incalculable. What must it be like to realize that someone hates you, really hates you, because of who you are? Gay and lesbian Americans are, by virture of who they love, more likely to be the victim of a violent assault. They are at higher risk for homelessness, chemical dependency or abuse, and suicide. In fact, some studies have found that the suicide rate for gay and lesbian teenagers is 10 times higher than for heterosexual teenagers. The single best predictor of suicide in this population is the degree of support and acceptance they receive from their immediate family.

Thank you for doing your part to help educate your corner of the world of the importance of treating all our citizens with equal positive regard.

Bless you.

Ange (formerly Writer Mom) said...

You're the best.
Why don't YOU run for office?
I'd love to work on a grassroot campaign.

ryssee said...

Wow, I can't believe he wrote this: "We must be cautious in giving preferential treatment to select classes of victims" followed by, "Every American is entitled to equal justice regardless of personal characteristics." What the hell was he calling preferential treatment?! What a jerk.
Great points by you in your follow-up letter. Thanks for posting both.

robin andrea said...

What a fantastic letter writer you are, alan. You sound like Keith Olbermann, Sir! Your stories are so profoundly touching, and you make your points so eloquently. It is hard to understand why the people we elect to represent us do such a lousy job of it.

I hope you never stop believing that your letters have an impact. They do. Write on!

KellyNerd said...

Wow, great stuff!

HAR said...

Alan,
I respect you for even trying to communicate with any member of government. I am so damn lazy. If we all did this maybe things would really change?

TaraDharma said...

Alan, great job. Your efforts contribute to all the other positive impulses and voices out there. I also believe copying your local press is a good idea, to get the word out there.

Keep fighting the good fight - it's the only way things change.

No_Newz said...

GO ALAN! You totally burnt his biscuit! Here's hoping he'll actually do something about it now.

Have a great weekend!

Green tea said...

Good for you Alan, I thought I was one of the only ones left shooting off letters to my Senators and congressman..
Your letter is very moving, and it is too bad your senator probably didn't even see it as some lowly staff person read and answered it.
Keep on them....

ConnieJane said...

Your senator apparently needs proof of hate crime? Your letter was perfectly stated.
I hope he reads it!

Chandira said...

Good letter! Yes, you can claim your part in doing something. What's the quote about evil happening because good (wo)men stand back and do nothing?

kath said...

What a wonderful letter! I too receive blah blah letters from politicians I write to . Usually they are smug sounding and arrogant.. and have a F YOU undertone if I have disagreed with them... or a self congratulatory one if I have agreed.

Bah!

Allen.. I had forgotten that you wre on the Kittyhawk ... so was Cory.. I think she is retired now..
I wonder what sorts of stories that you and cory could share.. same ship.. same posting.. different jobs.. different decades...
I wish we could get together! I would love to hear..............

Jess said...

All I can say is...wow...