Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fake study fails to damage Southern Poverty Law Center; gay community needs to wake up

There are some in the lgbt community who believe that the Southern Poverty Law Center's naming of groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association as anti-gay hate groups has proven to be ineffective.

This notion comes from a degree of laziness which I will get into later in this post. However, right now I wish to state specifically that this notion is categorically false. And if my post this morning about the Family Research Council's pathetic attack on SPLC doesn't convince you, then this following item - courtesy of Equality Matters - should do the trick:

Right-wing media figures are celebrating a new paper purporting to demonstrate anti-Christian and anti-conservative bias in the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) listing of extremist hate groups - conveniently ignoring the clear biases of the paper's author and the paper's glaring methodological problems.

On March 10, Breitbart.com's in-house anti-gay extremist Austin Ruse touted a new "study" from University of North Texas sociologist George Yancey, the author of "Watching the Watchers: The Neglect of Academic Analysis of Progressive Groups," a paper appearing in the journal Academic Questions. In the "study," Yancey purports to have found that the SPLC's practice of identifying and labeling hate groups ignores extremism on the left, instead maligning right-wing groups like the Family Research Council (which Yancey calls the "Family Research Center"). Moreover, Yancey charges that the SPLC is far too liberal with its use of that designation, unfairly smearing sensible conservatives as hateful bigots.

The author of this piece, Luke Brinker, breaks down the immense problems of this "study" into four points:

 1. It Isn't A Study:

Yancey's paper - republished in full on Breitbart's website - is little more than a screed against the SPLC filled with right-wing boilerplate. ("Progressive groups who value tolerance may display intolerance when reacting to conservative individuals," Yancey writes, echoing conservative bloviators like Erick Erickson) But Yancey's "study" lacks a systematic and coherent methodology. There's no objective metric by which he determines whether the SPLC goes too hard on conservative groups and too easy on leftist ones.

 2. The SPLC Does Hold Non-Conservative Groups Accountable:

 The SPLC has done extensive work highlighting phenomena like black separatism and black supremacism. In fact, it was the SPLC who exposed last summer an African-American "race war" proponent working for the Department of Homeland Security.

 3. Yancey Isn't A Neutral Scholar:

 In a 2012 interview with the right-wing Christian Post, he denounced what he called the often "downright hateful" views of cultural progressives, asserting that many liberals' views are "born out of fear and irrationality."

 4. The Paper Whitewashes The Bigotry Of Anti-Gay Hate Groups:

 Even as Yancey claims he isn't arguing that the FRC doesn't belong on the SPLC's hate list - simply that more liberal groups belong there - he suggests that its' leaders claims that gay people are disproportionately likely to molest children are simply based on alternative, if "uncharitable," readings of the scientific literature. But that literature is clear: there's no empirical basis for the claim that gays are more likely to molest children. Claims to the contrary only serve to stigmatize and pathologize members of a vulnerable minority group.

Recently, the Family Research Council claimed that SPLC is facing a lot of negative scrutiny for its supposed "biased and tainted" research. However, it's not the SPLC who is creating and pumping false hysteria and fake studies in order to smear its opponents. And these smears aren't even that good. They reek of desperation. Desperation is the child of fear; total and abject fear. There is a case to be made that SPLC , while not completely burying anti-gay hate groups such as FRC, took a huge chunk out of their credibility by its anti-gay hate group designation. And these groups know this.

Unfortunately, some of my lgbt brothers and sisters don't seem to realize this. I hate to say it, but when SPLC initially began calling these groups out, many lgbts were under the false impression that it was the final curtain.

This ridiculous notion underscores the continued notion of lgbts to underestimate these groups and their influence. It also underscored the notion that our community seems to want things done quickly and without the necessary toil. Too many of us mistaked SPLC's designation of these anti-gay groups as an ending of the cultural war when it fact it was an advantage much like an interception in a football game.

This advantage put groups like FRC on the defensive, making them justify their existence for a change.  It was the lgbt community's job, and it continues to be our job, to push at these groups, question their actions, needle them every chance we get about their tactics, and remind folks about their lies.

No football team has ever scored a touchdown after the ball has been given to them via an interception by just sitting on their asses and not taking advantage of what they have been given.

By that same token, if the lgbt community doesn't take full advantage of what we have been given by SPLC against the groups who demonize and stigmatize us, then perhaps we aren't working as hard as we should to attain full equality. 



Unknown said...

Luke...I can't imagine what you think is missing...I can only speak in relation to the information that we here in Europe (Copenhagen) see but as an avid follower of all LGBTQ news, I am inundated with dozens of articles on a daily basis about this Court case or legislative battle and many many other items. I do not recognize the complacency you infer...what is it you think is not being done because from here it looks like you have covered all bases. Be positive and concrete with your critique.

BlackTsunami said...

Dan, Luke didn't say that stuff. I did. And what I mean by complacency is the inability to confront these groups in the United States. We have several magazines and even a network but we don't confront anti-gay propaganda as much as we should. We hardly ever confront their errors at all.

BJohnM said...

I have agree with you. I recall once when the NPR religion reporter, Barbara Bradley-Hagerty did a story using either Brian Fischer or Tony Perkins, I actually called her and complained that they'd been made to look as they were just neurtal commenters on a social issue.

I pointed out that the SPLC had designated the group as a hate group. Here immediate response was, "Well that's not possible, they're a religious (or Christian, I can't remember which) organization." That's the power they have...so long as they claim to be Christian groups, there's a huge population of people that will not buy the "hate group" designation.

JCF said...

Preach, BT, preach! The SPLC works with FACTS. We can't allow them to be left hanging in a equivocating "Rubber/Glue (I'm a bigot? No, YOU'RE the bigot!)" scenario. We LGBTs need to have the SPLC's back.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* Am I the only one who remembers back when the FRC and the rest called being named by the SPLC as hate groups, called it "A badge of honor?"