The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins accused the Southern Poverty Law Center — a civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry — of providing “license” for a man to shoot a security guard in the arm on Wednesday.
“Floyd Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins declared during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. “I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held responsible that is leading to intimidation of what the FBI has characterized as domestic terrorism.” Corkins has since been charged for assault with a deadly weapon and could soon face federal charges. The guard, Leo Johnson, is in stable condition.
Asked by reporters why he thought the shooter was motivated by his distate for the group rather than mental incapacity, Perkins quipped, “How many unhinged individuals walk around with 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches?”
A growing number of conservatives have sought to portray the shooting as an attack against Christianity by an intolerant leftist and are using it as an opportunity to silence their critics.
The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement condemning “all acts of violence,” but stands by its classification. The group accuses the FRC of billing itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power” while regularly defaming gays and lesbians.”
For instance, FRC’s policy director Peter Sprigg has “claimed that ex-gay therapy works, that sexual orientation can change, insisted that gay people are mentally ill simply because homosexuality makes them that way, and proclaimed that, “Sexual abuse of boys by adult men is many times more common than consensual sex between adult men, and most of those engaging in such molestation identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual.” In February of 2009, he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior.” “So we should outlaw gay behavior?” Matthews asked. “Yes,” Sprigg replied.
Perkins has also charged that gay people “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide” because they recognize their same-sex attractions are abnormal.” The group has distributed a pamphlet depicting gay men and lesbians as physically and mentally ill pedophiles and compared same-sex marriage to the logic behind man-horse marriage.
Still, Perkins is insisting that SPLC is to blame. “I’m not saying that the Southern Poverty Law Center is responsible for the shooting,” he said during an earlier interview on Fox News. “Mr. Corkins is responsible for the shooting. They are responsible for creating an environment that led to yesterday’s shooting.”
The SPLC responds: “The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.”