Now the Hate Crimes bill of 2009 is out of the House Judiciary Committee and on its way to a vote of the general House of Representatives. Text of the bill is here. My attempts to find the reference for the definition of the word "hate" failed; but one source did mention "intimidation" as an issue.
While the early text refers to "bodily injury" using specific weapons in what appears to be an exclusive offense, it appears to also apply to "attempts to cause" and in later text refers to "economic damage" to the victim.
Further, the determination of the mental state of the perpetrator is handed off to prosecutors or "any Assistant Attorney General specially designated by the Attorney General" for the purpose of defining the perpetrator's mental state:
"such certifying individual has reasonable cause to believe that the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person was a motivating factor underlying the alleged conduct of the defendant".Still further, the feds can act when they believe that the locals have not satisfied the federal intent.
And further yet, the definition of the weapons includes, "or other weapon that has traveled in interstate or foreign commerce", i.e. "any" object that has travelled across state lines or internationally, apparently at any time in its existence.
Committee members allowed that, yes, the law could result in the imprisonment of religious leaders. Conceivably then, a threat might be perceived in the preaching from a Bible (the weapon), perceived as inciting "radicals" to do bodily harm to non-believers or gays or whoever. Thus the perception allegedly received by the alleged victim holds total sway over the actual occurrence, which in actuality might have been completely benign.
If the validity of the actual occurrence is not the basis for justice, then there is no justice under this proposed law; it is an invitation for persecution by allegation of personal offendedness, a legalization of internal outrage as the definition of a crime regardless of whether the outrage is legitimate.
Protection from outrage is not possible; so persecution of the hated must substitute. Justice misapplied can become persecution, and it undoubtedly will if H.R. 1913 becomes law.