The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
On Thursday evening, November 10th, 2022 at Maryville College an FBI-led LBGTQ+ Town Hall Meeting took place with the title “Defining Hate Crimes.”
The event was free and open to Allies, parents, friends, and non-LGBTQ+ people.
The flyer for the event stated that attendees would “Learn how hate crimes are legally defined, learn how to report hate crimes, and get answers.”
Several Conservatives were in attendance and sent their notes and impressions to The Tennessee Conservative.
One Blount County resident reported, “The event tonight was uneventful. The presentations were fairly straightforward, and balanced. Maryville College wouldn’t let me video. Several FBI agents spoke and two Asst. U.S. Attorneys were in attendance. They basically said that free speech was protected, and only specific, direct threats could constitute ‘hate crimes’ under federal law.”
Most of the audience was LGBTQ and allies.
Our source reports that In the Q&A that followed, there was much “whining” by a local LGBTQ advocate regarding criticism and negative publicity the group receives.
Our source said that the LGBTQ community is “far more intolerant” than they accuse (conservatives) of being.
According to our source, it appears that the FBI agrees with this because of “so many baseless calls” they receive from LGBTQ advocates.
“This was a primer in ‘just because you don’t like what they are saying doesn’t make it a crime,’” our source said.
Although the school would not allow the meeting to be videotaped, another source managed to capture audio of the meeting.
LISTEN TO THE MEETING BY CLICKING THE PLAY BUTTON BELOW.
The source also provided TTC with their notes from the event.
Of note, FBI representatives stated that the First Amendment makes it not a crime for an individual to express an opinion on race, religion, color, or ethnicity. In addition, political hyperbole is not considered a crime.
Maryville College Pride
E. TN Civil Rights Group
- How are hate crimes defined
- How to report hate crimes
- Real Examples used to help explain what a violation is….
- FBI priorities – Terrorist attacks #1, Foreign Intel #2, Civil Rights #5
- FACE Act – Freedom of access to clinic entrances act
Protected Under Free Speech:
-Non-Threatening hate speech is protected
– Organizing a gathering is protected
– Circulation of “offensive material” is protected
– posting “bigoted” view online is protected
– No matter how offensive, no threat, no crime.
– Serious communication of an intent to commit an act of violence
– Statements that threaten financial or emotional harm
– Intended violence naming specific person or group with a location names
– Threats do not have to be carried out to be a crime
– Instability or irrationality of person does not mean it is not a crime
Hate Crime Statutes:
Title 18 USC 245, 247, 249
Title 42 USC 3631
– Federally protected activities
– Has to have threat of force
– Has to interfere with federally protected activity
Part 1: Prohibits causing bodily injury (or trying to) because of actual or perceived threat
Race, Color, Religion, National Origin
Part 2: A bodily injury or attempt
Religion, Gender identification, Gender, Sexual orientation, Disability, National Origin
Must include interstate commerce and use of a weapon.
Note: Online threat is a hate “incident”, could be interstate commerce, could be processed locally. Use of a phone to send messages makes it interstate commerce.
Other ways to deal with what is happening:
1. Civil Recourse, Civil Lawsuits, Federal or State
2. State Criminal proceedings (every state has a different set of laws)
The agent encouraged all situations that meet their criteria to be reported to the local FBI and if it is not something they handle they will pass it along to the state.
Knoxville office: 865-544-0751
• If someone tells someone to kill themselves and then it happens, is this a hate crime?
– No, interstate crime maybe…
• If someone is threatening in person and inciting a group to violence it is a crime.
• For business owners/Drag shows, is threatening a business a crime? (emails, calls, harassment, protesting)?
– Could be a civil suit if it is to a certain level. True threat has to be directed at a specific person, even if they say “the business owner” that counts.
• What if they say “all drag queens are groomers” or strippers or pedophiles or saying they run a satanic cult?
– DOJ says a threat is federal. Describing someone in a certain way is protected speech. There may be civil avenues to go down to stop it.
• What if a religious official posts “we ensure our followers that the event will not happen”?
– DOJ says that is too vague. Saying you “wish” something would happen is not a crime.
The FBI advised that they are “reactive investigators” and that they respect everyone’s rights.
They stated it is not in the agency’s purview to tell people to “act right.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com