SPLC Responds To Blame For Shooting: ‘Perkins’ Accusation Is Outrageous’

Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center has responded to accusations by the Family Research Council and other anti-gay groups that its labeling of hate groups is “incendiary” and that it provided “license” to the gunman to attack FRC Wednesday and must be “held to account.” Mark Potok, Senior Fellow at the SPLC, called Tony Perkins’ accusation “outrageous” and explained how the exploitation of this tragedy creates a false equivalence between criticism of anti-gay rhetoric and condemnations of gay people:

Perkins’ accusation is outrageous. 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.

As the SPLC made clear at the time and in hundreds of subsequent statements and press interviews, we criticize the FRC for claiming, in Perkins’ words, that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem” — an utter falsehood, as every relevant scientific authority has stated. An FRC official has said he wanted to “export homosexuals from the United States.” The same official advocated the criminalizing of homosexuality.

Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC’s criticisms of the FRC and the FRC’s criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.

Indeed, as ThinkProgress and many others have pointed out, there’s nothing incendiary about calling hateful rhetoric what it is. Rather than taking umbrage for the designation, groups like FRC and the American Family Association should be “held to account” for the lies and fear they spread that earned them the “hate group” moniker in the first place.