Hate groups hate being called hate groups

December 16, 2010

The Southern Poverty Law Center has added several antigay organizations to its list of hate groups, citing their "demonizing propaganda" and "propagation of known falsehoods." SPLC Intelligence Project director Mark Potok (whom Amy Frykholm interviewed for the Century a while back) and president Richard Cohen discussed their decision on a web conference last week. Becky Garrison has the highlights.

The Family Research Council, one of the more prominent groups named, is fighting back, aided by some high-profile elected officials. An ad FRC placed in DC-area print publications accuses "elements of the radical Left" of "trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues."

It's not worth quibbling over a pejorative word-bomb like "radical." The bigger problem is with, well, most of the other words in the quote:

  • SPLC isn't "trying to shut down" anything. It's not advocating legal action against the antigay groups or a ban on their media appearances, nor is it accusing them of illegal activity. The goal is to curb FRC and others' influence by calling them out for their commitment to an antigay ideology that often trumps any commitment to facts.
  • "Informed discussion" is exactly the standard these antigay groups so often fall short of. For example, SPLC cites FRC's ongoing claims that gay men are more likely to molest children, a junk-science claim that's been debunked repeatedly. Running with it anyway is uninformed at best and dishonest at worst.
  • While there's no doubt these groups are deeply engaged in the serious "policy issues" facing the republic, SPLC isn't trying to silence opponents of same-sex marriage or "don't ask, don't tell" repeal. SPLC's focus is hate groups and hate crimes, and it's reported that gays and lesbians "are far more likely to be victims of a violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States."

The organizations on SPLC's list don't beat up gay kids, but they do spread falsehoods that fertilize seeds of hate and violence. Some of them even do this in the name of Christ.


I support SPLC in naming Family Research as a hate group

I wrote this in reaction to the SPLC listing of Family Research Council as a hate Group. I am a straight Evangelical Christian and I AGREE with SPLC.

I have worked in advocacy for the GLBT community for over five years and spend a lot of time saying "I am sorry". I want people to get the arguments in their heads to change the language and debate on this. I am for FULL equality.

The Ten Lies about the GBLT Community From Conservative Hate Groups: a Straight Christian Perspective


SPLC hypocrisy

I actually wonder why Southern Poverty Law Center decided at this time to name these 13 hate groups, when People for American Way and Americans United for Separation of Church and State named them years ago, along with hundreds of other antigay hate groups.

I also wonder why all that SPLC did was name these groups when SPLC fame is from them taking down the Ku Klux Klan and the White Aryan Resistance by suing their leaders.

Now these 13 designated hate groups and many more are using this for their new propaganda to raise blood money to incite violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people worldwide.

SPLC is also using their newly discovered widely known hate groups to raise money too, while doing nothing to stop the violence against LGBT people.

What do you mean they're

What do you mean they're doing nothing? I think you're doing nothing. They're bringing public attention to the activities of hate groups. I call that doing something.

Being labelled as hate groups is not helping their fundraising as much as you may think. Why do you think they don't like the designation? Because it sounds bad on Christmas cards?

Know your enemy.

Aptly classified

Whatever the nature of the same-sex behavior mentioned in the Bible (seems to be cult prostitution, orgiastic behavior, or other) it most likely is entirely unlike the way that civilized same-sex couples live today. The fact that organizations like FRC denounce gays indiscriminantly based on simplistic and unscholarly understandings of scripture, with the result that gays become second-class and hated minority group, qualifies FRC as a de-facto hate group.

Hate is far too intense a word here

CC should inform itself before rushing to judgment. It accuses these groups of a lack of "informed discussion" but then falls into exactly the same trap. The charge is junk science, but the article links to SPLC's own article on the matter - allowing it to be judge and jury simultaneously.

Worse, that very article more or less substantiates the claim that gay men are more likely to molest children, when read closely. Molesters are categorized into two groups, of which the first group is excluded from being characterized as either homosexual or heterosexual; the second group are called "regressed offenders." And the only statistically significant information about this group is here: "Groth found that the majority of regressed offenders were heterosexual in their adult relationships." Notice the word is "majority" and not "vast majority." But homosexuals form only a tiny minority of the population, with the vast majority being heterosexual. Therefore, though heterosexuals form the majority of molestors, it is much more likely for any given homosexual person to be a molestor than any given heterosexual.

I know from at least one of the Groth studies that the above characterization - along with that of the SLPC - are rather poor ways to describe the study's findings. The study also had a very limited test sample - 175 subjects. This study was from 1978, 34 years ago. Groth may have published more since then. Nonetheless - it is highly suspicious that the SLPC refers to merely a single study (and likely a very old one), and refrains from posting any reference, and it's simply prejudicial that CC would take this prove that the claim is "junk science" and warrant labelling these groups as "hate groups." The lack of discretion here would almost make one consider labeling the SLPC and those citing it as hate groups themselves - since obviously, calling a group of people a "hate group" also fertilizes seeds of hate and violence. One would think that a better means could be found than labeling groups as "hate groups" with claims which are so obviously problematic.

I do not claim to be an "expert" in the matter of homosexuality and pedophilia, but I do know that it is a complicated matter from the very beginning with nomenclature and classifications. The literature tends to use the term "MSM" (men who have sex with men) in order to bypass ideological disputes regarding orientation / identity / etc.; this way people who associate with the group "gay" or "homosexual" are not directly targeted.

Compared to the attention this issue receives in the media, there is comparatively little good research taking place, and probably not enough to make absolutist type claims either way. There most certainly is a good deal of evidence that MSM are more likely to engage in the molestation of children than those who are not MSM. That said, these MSM persons most certainly could not all be called "homosexual" (many will be bi, or self-identify as heterosexual) and there certainly are logical reasons for refraining from categorizing a good number of MSM as "gay" or "homosexual."

Given the delicacy of the matter, it is very easy for most studies to be discredited in some way as deficient or as "junk science." For example, one of the scholarly articles commonly cited by the APA and various gay rights organizations on the dangers of therapy for minimizing same-sex attractions began its selection process of individuals for the study by publishing an advertisement in the gay magazine The Advocate, asking people who felt they had been hurt by this type of therapy to write in and share their experiences. Later, this pool of individuals was added to by other, more responsible means. It could easily be argued that this article was from the very beginning "junk science" since this is not a responsible manner of gathering a pool of test subjects. However, the study did reveal at least that: a number of people consider themselves to have been harmed by this therapy, and ascribe e.g. suicidal tendencies to effects of this therapy.

Unfortunately, studies done so far tend to have various weaknesses: small pools of test subjects, lack of adequately objective random test pools; lack of other types of control which enhance objectivity. However, simply labeling all such studies as "junk science" is not helpful; as by the same token, we would need to level the same accusations at the APA and numerous gay rights organizations.

If a group is to be labeled as a "hate group," there should at least be a fair case made, which is also adequately documented. We need to know: the claims made; the evidence used to make such claims; what the competing claims are; what evidence is being ignored, etc. etc.. This is simply the most rudimentary request for justice. The organizations in question rightly complain that they are being "demonized," and if making claims regarding homosexuality in itself is enough to be labeled a "hate group" by means of inaccurate citing of a study of 175 subjects which happens to be 34 years old when many other studies have been published since then - it is quite obvious that our policy decision making will not be informed. For we could similarly call for GLAAD, HRC, and even the APA to go wearing disparaging labels. And scientists will be wary of publishing anything challenging this "conventional wisdom" for fear of losing their careers.

I do not, in principle, object to SLPC claim that groups are "hate groups." However, let's ask them to actually make the case, instead of simply granting them this power unquestionably. Let them do it in a manner which also vouchsafes future, objective scientific work in this field, so scientists are not dissuaded from engaging in research in this area, and do not have to fear pejorative labels if they do their work honestly.

In this way, we are also less likely to polarize debate. Stigmatizing and demonizing one which one sees as one's opponent in a debate might bring what seems a short-term victory; but it damages the very fabric of social discourse upon which we depend as a society. It is better to encourage all parties to the debate to engage in honest and faithful tactics of engagement.

Imagine also the harm done to society if, after a few years, a few researchers are able to gather the funds for a truly wide-scale, objective survey with rigorous control methods, and it is discovered that amongst those groups we tend to call "gay" and "homosexual," there is a significantly larger percentage than those we classify as "heterosexual" who engage in child molestation. We will have set the example of unfair treatment, demonization, and stigmatization without proof - and it will be the gay and homosexual communities which suffer the most.

I should add ...

The above is my comment.

I'd like to further stipulate what I mean by that last paragraph since this is such a delicate topic. Suppose that it does turn out that a significant percentage more of those classified as "homosexual" are found to engage in child molestation than "heterosexual" - obviously, this does not lead to any immediate conclusions regarding why - e.g., it's likely that a climate of repression would be more responsible for this than any "essence" of homosexuality itself. But since we have set a bad precedent of rushing to judgment without evidence and reflection - it will be all the more likely, given this precedent, for some to do exactly as we have done - and make generalizations about ALL gay people.

If we claim to be wanting justice ... we do need to be just ourselves. If we are terrifically unjust - even if it's "for a good cause" - we can't kid ourselves that our own injustice is without effect.

SPLC is right, these are hate groups

You go way off base to try to defend the Family Researc Council and the rest of these so-called "Christian" groups. First of all you fail to realize that the FRC and the rest of these groups which make claims about homosexuals molesting children more than heterosexuals cite studies by researchers such as Dr. A. Nicholas Groth, Dr. Gene Abel, and Dr. Kurt Freund and then distort their work around to support their anti-gay views that gays are child molesters:


Those who study child molesters like Dr. Groth continue to do studies to this day which support the evidence homosexuals are not more likely to molest children than heterosexuals. One such researcher is Dr. Carole Jenny at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The FBI also keeps tracks of convicted child molesters around the country, not any of their statistics back up anything that the Family Research Council or any those "Christian" groups say with their made up statistics.

This is exactly why some blamed the murder of Matthew Shepard on these groups for creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred for gays.

Since when exactly is painting homosexuals as child molesters supposed to be "teaching the love of Jesus Christ"? What happens the day we hear about someone murdering gay people because he heard the Family Research Council and the rest of these groups say gay people are frequent child molesters? Will the families of the victims press charges against these groups for inspiring murder? How different would it be these groups were targeting African-Americans or Jews saying that Blacks or Jews were more likely to rape white women? These kind of groups give Christians and Christianity a bad name and a bad image!

Why exactly doesn't the FRC or the rest of these groups ever do anything charitable such as donating to fight hunger in Amerca or to the poor, instead of constantly being obsessed with portraying gay people as child molesters?

The Southern Poverty Law Center hit right on with naming these groups hate groups. It should also be pointed out that the Family Research Coucnil President Tony Perkins spoke at at event for a Louisiana chapter for the racist Council of Conservative Citizens in 2001 and has past ties to a former Ku Klux Klan cheiftain named David Duke.

For more on the studies of child molestation see: