Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Newly named anti-gay hate groups plead victimhood but do not address charges

Well that was quick. I just knew something would happen that I had to address.

Apparently some organizations who are on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list and profiles of anti-gay hate groups aren't happy about it and their spokespeople are addressing the issue.

But the venue that they chose to address SPLC's list and the way that they are saying (or rather what they are not saying) raises some questions as to the accuracy of their complaints.

Coral Ridge Ministries's Robert Knight, Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright, and Christian Anti-Defamation Coalition head Gary L. Cass all responded in outraged tones over SPLC's either profiling or designating their organizations as anti-gay hate groups.

The venue where they choose to address the charges was on the pages of World Net Daily, an online publication which is infamous for its anti-gay rhetoric.

A writer on the site, Les Kinsolving, has in the past referred to the lgbt community as the "sodomy lobby."

In October of this year, he called a judge’s order to stop enforcement of the military’s ban on gay and lesbian troops in the military as a "disease ridden judicial decision."

In August of this year, the publication dropped conservative writer Ann Coulter as a keynote speaker from a conference it held because she earlier spoke at a conference held by a gay Republican group.

And in February of this year, another writer on World Net Daily, Molotov Mitchell, spoke out in favor of Uganda's "Kill The Gays" bill, even evoking Martin Luther King Jr's name in defense of it.

Joining Cass, Perkins, and Knight was Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in an official statement which may not have been put out to World Net Daily specifically but was still picked up by the publication.

The irony of appearing in an anti-gay online publication in order to complain about being unfairly targeted as anti-gay seemed to have escaped Perkins, Wright, Knight, and Cass. This is probably because they were too busy pleading victimhood.

Knight - "Smearing legitimate groups merely for disagreeing about homosexuality is a very hateful act."

Perkins - "The Left's smear campaigns of conservatives is being driven by the clear evidence that the American public is losing patience with their radical policy agenda as seen in the recent election and in the fact that every state, currently more than thirty, that has had the opportunity to defend the natural definition of marriage has done so . . ."

Cass - "We are going to form a coalition of organizations to lobby Congress to withhold funds from SPLC."

Wright - "If they were to judge according to actions, they would have to have a special section for homosexual groups that vandalize and threaten people who oppose the homosexual agenda. We've had death threats against us posted openly on websites because of our work to uphold traditional marriage."

Of course Wright did not say just which lgbt groups were threatening her organization. Nor did she, Knight, Perkins, or Cass directly address any of the charges lodged by the SPLC, which are listed in a detailed report.

For the record, Knight, whose name pops up several times in the report, is inaccurate when he said that groups are being smeared for voicing a mere objection to homosexuality. SPLC said the following in the report:

Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

SPLC also gave a detailed description as to what these falsehoods are, including the claims that:

Gays molest children at a higher rate than heterosexuals,

Same sex parents harm children,

Gays have a lifespan shorter than heterosexuals, and

Gays controlled the Nazi party in Germany and helped orchestrate the Holocaust.

SPLC contends that these groups are knowingly pushing these falsehoods.

Now it would seem to me that through all of the whining and clinging to the cross of victimization done by Knight, Perkins, Wright, and Cass would be some type of declaration that these charges aren't true.

Maybe some type of short statement such as "we never said these things" or "we were misconstrued."

But none of the four denied the fact that their organizations are pushing these falsehoods.

So while it seems that these groups aren't ignoring SPLC's charges, it's obvious that they are doing a insanely poor job of refuting them.

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Talking Points Memo picks up the SPLC anti-gay hate groups story

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I most likely won't be posting until Friday afternoon.

The popular political blog Talking Points Memo has picked up the story about SPLC naming the Family Research Council as an official anti-gay hate group:

The Family Research Council is perhaps the most prominent voice in conservative social politics and the hosts of an annual rite of passage for many Republicans who hope to run for president. And now, FRC is on the same Southern Poverty Law Center list of hate groups as the Ku Klux Klan.

The SPLC gave the Family Research Council the designation due to anti-gay speech from its leaders, which the SPLC says includes calls for gay men and lesbians to be imprisoned.

Labeling the Family Research Council a hate group puts one of Washington's most powerful social issues advocates into the company of groups like the Nation of Islam and the now mostly defunct Aryan Nations in the eyes of the SPLC, which tracks 932 active hate groups in the U.S.

The article is an excellent read, particularly the part that goes into details regarding the comments of FRC employee Peter Sprigg. But I found this part to be very interesting:

The SPLC designation of the Family Research Council as an anti-gay hate group potentially poses more of a challenge for Republicans. Though many conservatives view the SPLC as a progressive group and therefore no more worthy of respect than, say, ACORN, the SPLC hate group label will almost undoubtedly make it into press reports about future events like the Values Voter Summit. That means Republican presidential hopefuls who may want to reach out to gay and lesbian Republican groups like the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud -- which can be good sources of fundraising as well as "I'm not anti-gay" cred on the campaign trail -- may have to explain why they publicly praised and rushed to address a group that SPLC is calling one of the worst perpetrators of ugly myths about gays.

As Beirich told me, there is no difference between the FRC and the KKK in the eyes of the SPLC now. Still, she said that the hate group designation doesn't mean the SPLC thinks everyone who supports the FRC "has a full understanding of what they're up to." Many who support the FRC may do so because of the group's very public ties to evangelical Christianity, and Beirich stressed that the SPLC designation has nothing to do with an "attack on the churchly world."

By the way, FRC did not return TPM's request for a comment on the hate group designation.

Related posts:

Family Research Council, American Family Association named as anti-gay hate groups

Ignoring your hate group status won't make it go away

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The priest, the victim, and the hitman and other Wednesday midday news briefs

Texas: Catholic Priest Allegedly Tried to Have Teen Sexual Abuse Victim Murdered - Soon to be an episode of Law and Order no doubt, probably one of the creepiest things I have read in a while.

New federal task force on LGBT youth suicide prevention to be announced - Say what you will, this is major.

Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins, and the Hate Agenda - Keep the pressure up on these folks!

Caution over HIV 'breakthrough' - I agree. Read the article, keep praying, and keep playing it safe.

Tell the Apple iTunes Store to remove anti-gay, anti-choice iPhone application - I'm speechless about what Apple iTunes is doing.

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Ignoring your hate group status won't make it go away

For now, the groups (i.e. the American Family Association, the Family Research Council) just added by Southern Poverty Law Center to the list of anti-gay hate organizations seem to be silent on their new status.

But other folks aren't.

Lgbt activist and author Dan Savage is making sure that this designation isn't being ignored.

Savage (who came up with the idea of the "It Gets Better Project" to combat the problem of gay teen suicides) took CNN to task yesterday during an interview for how the network gives a platform to these groups:

The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on networks like CNN and then that really -- we really have to start there. We have to start with that type of cultural reckoning.

Meanwhile, a person whose presence was noted several times on SPLC's profile of these groups, Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries, has come out with a new book claiming to tackle the so-called "harmful effects of same-sex marriage."

One wonders if he cited the work of the discredited Paul Cameron in this book like he has done several times in the past, including as a Congressional witness in 1994 when he spoke against ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act).

One thing is certain. Even before SPLC's citation, he wasn't so eager to talk about Cameron. In June of this year,  Knight, through his representative, declined to have an interview with me about the subject.

This is a far cry from the conversation I had with him in 2004 when he came to the University of South Carolina to have a debate with former Human Rights Campaign head Elizabeth Birch.

During the conversation after the debate (a conversation I recounted in my 2007 book Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters), I was able to question Knight as to why he used Cameron's work even though it had been discredited several times.

His answer to me was:

“Yes we have used his research. So what?”

But Knight and others listed by SPLC do have their defenders.

William A. Jacobson, Associate Clinical Professor at Cornell Law School, didn't care for SPLC's list. He is especially angry that the National Organization for Marriage is on the list (Editor's note - SPLC does not consider NOM as an official anti-gay hate group, but did profile the organization):

The inclusion of NOM on this list really is outrageous, and typical of how SPLC seeks to demonize a mainstream conservative (and in this case, constitutional) view.  The explanation SPLC gives for including NOM is flimsy and filled with innuendo.  

Jacobson also said about SPLC's list in general:

Most of these groups are unknown to me,  although a couple are well-known Christian groups, such as American Family Association and Family Research Council (both of these entities will be on SPLC's upcoming Hate Group list).  I don't defend or not defend these groups because I don't know much about them, but based upon SPLC's past performance, the burden should be on SPLC to make the case for including a group on a hate list.

Unfortunately that leads one to think that Jacobson didn't read SPLC's breakdown of these groups at all. The organization gives very detailed reasonings as to why these groups are profiled as well as the inaccurate things they say about the lgbt community.

Jacobson - and many responders to his blog post - were conveniently silent about these inaccurate claims, instead choosing to play the victim and complain about "liberal conspiracies" against Christians.

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