Arkansas – Arkansas is one of only three states in the U.S. to not have a hate crime bill. For decades the legislators have failed to pass it and once again it’s up for debate. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in his State of the State address on Tuesday that he supported the bill, citing the support of businesses such as IBM.
“It’s in the right message by who Arkansas is that we are not a state that tolerates people being targeted because they are different,” Republican Senator Jim Hendren, one of the sponsors, said. “It only is an enhancement of a current criminal act so if nobody commits a crime today it has no impact at all,”
If Arkansas remains one of the only three states left in the country to pass this kind of bill, businesses and people will be reluctant to move here, according to Hendren.
“People have been told for many years that this is going to limits people’s ability to preach, teach and churches to say or think what they want and that’s just not the case,” he said
People like Jerry Cox, the president and CEO of the conservative organization Family Council, said that the bill isn’t needed. Cox said hate crime legislation didn’t stop the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or the El Paso mass shooting.
“I think that people want to appear that they have done something about racism and biased and bigotry and targeting and so this is something that is pretty easy to do that really doesn’t make a difference or really doesn’t solve the problem,” Cox said.
Cox argued that if it passes this year, lawmakers won’t pass legislation that could help the problem of discrimination like justice and police form would.
“Our justice system is not always equal if you have means, if you have money many times just as leans more in your direction,” Cox said.
Cox said everyone should be protected equally under the law, but the bill creates categories of people who end up getting more protection.
“Might we come to a point where I’m just speaking opposition to something suddenly becomes a hate crime,” Cox said. “In America, we have always said you’re punished for your evil deeds not for your thoughts.”