Hate speech con­dem­na­tion on hold

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­line.com pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

A com­mit­tee of Ul­ster County law­mak­ers has post­poned ac­tion on a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing vi­o­lence and hate speech and ex­press­ing sol­i­dar­ity with those tar­geted.

The de­lay was prompted by free-speech con­cerns and ques­tions about whether the mea­sure un­in­ten­tion­ally cre­ated a leg­isla­tive pol­icy.

The pro­posed res­o­lu­tion — orig­i­nally writ­ten to ex­press sol­i­dar­ity with Mus­lims and oth­ers tar­geted for their eth­nic­ity, race and re­li­gion — had been amended to in­stead con­demn hate speech to­ward all those tar­geted for their eth­nic­ity, race, re­li­gion, gen­der, gen­der iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or po­lit­i­cal views af­ter some ques­tioned why Mus­lims were be­ing sin­gled out in the word­ing.

Dur­ing a Repub­li­can cau­cus Tues­day, leg­isla­tive coun­sel Erica Guerin warned the res­o­lu­tion, which some law­mak­ers said merely was a memo­ri­al­iz­ing res­o­lu­tion putting the Leg­is­la­ture on record as op­pos­ing hate speech, seemed to be set­ting a pol­icy that could be per­ceived as hin­der­ing in­di­vid­ual rights to free speech.

The res­o­lu­tion reads, in part: “The Ul­ster County Leg­is­la­ture com­mits to pur­su­ing a pol­icy agenda that af­firms civil and hu­man rights and en­sures those tar­geted on the ba­sis of eth­nic­ity, race, re­li­gion, gen­der, gen­der iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, po­lit­i­cal views or im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus can turn to the gov­ern­ment with­out fear of re­crim­i­na­tion.”

“As far as I’m con­cerned, the lan­guage cre­ates a pol­icy,” Guerin said. “This is hin­drance to free speech. This is a slip­pery slope, con­trary to what you stand for.”

The Leg­is­la­ture’s Laws and Rules Com­mit­tee voted 4-1 Tues­day to post­pone a fi­nal vote on the res­o­lu­tion un­til those con­cerns are ad­dressed.

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