The last time WorldNetDaily treated columnist Janet Folger's claims as fact, we discovered that they actually ranged from highly exaggerated to utterly false. So when WND authoritatively cited Folger again, the logical thing to do is investigate whether Folger was exaggerating here too -- WND certainly won't do this, since it made clear its preference for right-wing talking points over the truth.
In a Dec. 7 article -- in which we previously pointed out its biased descriptions of an anti-discrimination law and an anti-gay preacher who opposes it -- WND stated:
WND columnist Janet Folger earlier warned in a commentary called "Pastors: Act now or prepare for jail," that in New Hampshire, a crime that typically carries a sentence of 3 1/2 years was "enhanced" to 30 years because a robber shouted an anti-homosexual name at his victim.
The article linked to an April 24 column in which Folger wrote:
Robbing someone outside a convenience store is a Class-B felony in New Hampshire, which typically carries a sentence of three and a half to seven years in state prison along with a $4,000 fine. But according to Assistant County Attorney Roger Chadwick, if convicted of a "hate crime" (shouting an anti-homosexual name), the sentence becomes "enhanced" by 23-26 1/2 years – turning a three-year sentence into a 30-year sentence.
Oh, and it's not a hypothetical. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, John Guimond, 23, faced those charges. He was charged with stealing a cell phone from a homosexual man, 24, and his underage "male partner" (a statutory rape violation), after approaching them in a parking lot.
Stealing is a bad thing to do. But keep in mind, no weapon was used, no injury sustained. Just that mean name – something far, far worse. Think about it for a minute. If saying a mean anti-homosexual word adds an additional 23-26 ½ years to a sentence, and people live to around 80, that penalty is one-fourth of your life for the words you say. And while this was in addition to a robbery penalty, how much of a jump would it really be to penalize the speech "infraction" alone? And just what constitutes an "anti-gay epithet"? Would an "anti-gay epithet" be to say, "Homosexuality is a sin," or "Homosexuals should repent"? What if you informed someone that "Homosexuality is harmful to your health"? If I were you, I wouldn't try it in New Hampshire.
Folger fails to mention one important detail: Guimond was never sentenced on the hate-crime charge. As a March 10, 2005, Manchester, N.H., Union Leader article reported (h/t Good As You), Guimond pleaded guilty to the robbery charge in exchange for dropping two other hate crime-related charges. Indeed, it appears that prosecutors decided that the evidence ultimately didn't sustain the hate-crime charges. From the article:
"I think he targeted them for the usual reasons that someone would target another for a robbery," said Assistant County Attorney Shawn Sweeney, who prosecuted Guimond. "He was stealing from them."
In other words, the criminal justice system worked as it was supposed to by ultimately dropping a charge for which the prosecution apparently had insufficient evidence, something Folger -- and WND -- curiously (but, sadly, not suprisingly) failed to tell their readers.