Hate groups, hate speech

I don’t want to beat a dead horse and I refuse to get drawn into a flame war, but expressing one’s regret that a transgender activist like Roz Kaveney and a lesbian separatist like Sheila Jeffreys can’t find common ground given the prejudice against them both in society at large (see this piece in The Guardian for more), or that the left has historically failed to form united fronts against its much more disciplined and opportunistic adversaries, as I did in this post, is rather a far cry from drawing moral equivalences between rapists and their victims.

Free speech absolutist that I am, I don’t believe in silencing anyone–though I see no problem with quoting a person’s or a group’s statements and characterizing them as true or false or, as is sometimes my wont, hateful. As much as I detest name-calling, I don’t have a problem with a group like the SPLC (for whom I have written from time to time) formally naming organizations that programmatically demonize whole classes of people, knowingly and deliberately spreading falsehoods about them, as “hate groups.”

I find it risible (though not at all surprising) that a group like the Family Research Council, that conflates homosexuality with pedophilia and that seeks to make not just same-sex marriage but same-sex relations illegal, hypocritically deems itself blameless whenever a gay person is the target of unprovoked violence but flaunts its victimhood when a deranged gunman targets them, blaming the SPLC for giving him “a license to shoot,” as Tony Perkins did a few days ago.

And I find it contemptible when Dana Milbank, writing in the Washington Post, deplores the SPLC for its “recklessness” in “labeling as a ‘hate group’ a policy shop that advocates for a full range of conservative Christian positions, on issues from stem cells to euthanasia.”

I disagree with the Family Research Council’s views on gays and lesbians. But it’s absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church. The center says the FRC “often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.” Exhibit A in its dossier is a quote by an FRC official from 1999 (!) saying that “gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”

Offensive, certainly. But in the same category as the KKK?

How is it absurd? The only way someone could draw such a nice distinction is if they don’t consider homophobia to be as offensive as racism or antisemitism, if they don’t see homosexuality as being every bit as innate and immutable a characteristic as race, gender, or ethnicity. Such views might be ubiquitous, they might even be “mainstream,” it’s not against the law to hold them, but they are clearly hateful.

“Late Thursday,” Milbank continues, drawing the same kind of spurious moral equivalency that I am accused of, “the law center fired back at Perkins, defending its categorization of the FRC as a hate group because it “has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people.”

The center said that Perkins should stop putting out “claims that are provably false” about gay people.

Yes, Perkins should stop doing that. But even if he doesn’t, the Southern Poverty Law Center should stop listing a mainstream Christian advocacy group alongside neo-Nazis and Klansmen.

Why should they?

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Itanimulli

4 thoughts on “Hate groups, hate speech

  1. Groups and people are known by the company they keep. And the SPLC has made it a point to keep an eye on some of these people and groups who associate with each other -there is nothing wrong with that at all. If these so called Christian groups like Perkins’ group associate with organizations that are defined by the SPLC as hate groups -there is no reason they should not say that. Furthermore-if a group like Perkins’ group has made inaccurate and incendiary remarks about a particular group -then the SPLC can and does acknowledge it. All this nonsense about the SPLC being responsible for that shooter being at that Family Research Council Building. At nt time have I ever known the SPLC to make threats or incite violence against anymore-nor have they deliberately lied. However -we have seen people on the right do it-Pat Robertson, Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin’s little cross hairs, and recently Laura Ingraham had a picture of a sign that threatened violence against the president up on her Facebook page -with the comment “ouch”. And there are quite a few others. Not to mention all the information that is put out by some of these people that is totally inacccurate and they continue to use this information after it has been proven inaccurate. Ironically they whine about Media Matters when all Media Matters is use their own statements to show how inaccurate they are -they take them at their word. When so called main stream journalists take the part of an organization that has a track record of homophobic and incendiary statements because they are allegedly a religious group-that becomes problematical. I wonder if Milbank would have been as quick to defend some Muslim religious group or any other non Christian group? Perkins makes a nice TV appearance -but then so does Larry Pratt. Put if people think these men should not receive any criticism for what they do or what they represent -they are sadly misinformed.

  2. ‘I don’t have a problem with a group like the SPLC (for whom I have written from time to time) formally naming organizations that programmatically demonize whole classes of people, knowingly and deliberately spreading falsehoods about them, as “hate groups.”’

    Hey, the SPLC was listed, at least by the AG’s office in Colorado, as one of the ten worst charities. Meanwhile, Morris Dees and Mark Potok are litigating all the way to the bank.

  3. There have been statements about how the SPLC utilizes their fund for years-that is nothing new. However -they happen to be spot on in regards to the information they publish. An organization has a record of what they say and what they represent. No one has to poll everyone in the organization to get the groups views. People support and endorse organizations because they want to for specific reasons. Perkins’ presents himself one way in the media but if you check into what they do and say-you see there is good reason why they have been condemned by the SPLC.

  4. How is it absurd?

    Because it’s the same reeking shit that your mirror images dish out when they start describing abortion doctors as the equivalent of Mengele, or the waffling mediocre American left as the same as Lenin or Stalin.

    You lot deserve each other.

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