Sure enough, as Kyle at RightWingWatch predicted, the right-wing freakout has begun. Unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck is already leading the way.
He invited on wingnut talk-show host Sandi Rios, who promptly declared hate crimes "thought crimes" (uh-huh, right). She also attacked Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, who was defending the bill from Republican attempts to nullify it by adding categories or victims by claiming:
Rios: Well, she's saying that anybody that's killed or harmed is not a real victim -- unless they're homosexual or gay or Jewish. Then they're real victims. So you can murder more severely if they happen to homosexual or Jewish. It makes no sense.
Beck: Whatever happened to equal protection under the law? If you kill someone, you should go to jail!
This ... is precisely how the laws work: they are intended to protect everyone equally from these kinds of crimes. Everyone, after all, has religious beliefs of one kind or another; we all have a race, a gender, an ethnicity, a sexual orientation. A quick look at the FBI's annual bias-crime statistics bears this out; anti-white bias crimes are the second-largest category of racial crimes, and anti-Christian crimes constitute the second-largest in the religion category. If the laws were written as McGough suggests, they couldn't possibly pass the Constitution's equal-protection muster; yet these laws have.
Bias-crime laws aren't about "special categories" of victims; in fact, the victim's actual ethnic or sexual status is of secondary importance -- what matters is the motivation of the perpetrator. This is why a gay-bashing assault against a person mistaken for being gay is still a bias crime.