New hate crime legislation being proposed in Michigan has prompted outrage among conservatives, as the bill would essentially “bring prosecution for hurt feelings,” according to one Republican state lawmaker.
According to reporting from The Daily Wire, the legislation would expand the definition of a hate crime to include causing someone to “feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened.”
While on the surface this sounds reasonable, the interpretation of an individual’s feelings is highly subjective — especially because the bill also adds “orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the list of protected classes, which critics say would allow for an individual to report feeling “terrorized” or “frightened” by being “misgendered.”
Violators of this new hate crime law would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Michigan state Rep. Brad Paquette (R) condemned the bill as being founded on “victim mentality.”
“It’s a bill that intends to bring prosecution for hurt feelings,” Paquette’s statement read.
“The bill is founded in pure narcissism and victim mentality that’s built upon gender theory. It’s one that seeks to force others who adamantly disagree with gender theory to live in another’s delusion,” he added.
The Republican state lawmaker then took his criticism a step further, arguing that radical gender ideology was an attack on America as we know it.
“I think gender theory is one of the biggest threats to our nation,” Paquette told the outlet.
In another statement to the Washington Examiner, Michigan state Rep. Steve Carras (R) asserted that the legislation was too broad — pointing out that it directly contradicts the First Amendment.
“This legislation opens the door to severe penalties for words,” he told the outlet. “Despite some speech being completely reprehensible, one of the wonderful things about our country is that you have the right to say it without fear of government retaliation or oppression.”
Meanwhile, Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) claimed in a previous statement that the legislation is necessary because the state’s current hate crime laws are “woefully inadequate to address the rise and escalation of crimes that we’re seeing today.”
“The time is now to act. Our state desperately needs better, stronger, more extensive protections for some of Michigan’s most vulnerable and targeted communities,” Nessel said during testimony in support of the bill.
“The time is now to act. Our state desperately needs better, stronger, more extensive protections for some of Michigan’s most vulnerable & targeted communities,” @MIAttyGen @dananessel testified in support of Rep. @NoahArbit’s Hate Crimes legislation. pic.twitter.com/6gNQtb78dO
— Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (@MIAttyGen) June 6, 2023
The legislation has already passed in Michigan’s Democrat-controlled House. It is likely to pass in the Democrat-controlled state Senate in the coming weeks, and Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is widely expected to sign the bill when it lands on her desk.