THE LUMPING-TOGETHER WAS ALWAYS THE GOAL: Megan McArdle: Southern Poverty Law Center Gets Creative to Label ‘Hate Groups’: Principled conservatives are lumped together with bigots.
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the Family Research Council a “hate group” because of its orthodox position on homosexuality, and its occasionally incendiary defenses of that position.
In 2012, Floyd Corkins showed up at the Family Research Council headquarters with a gun.
I don’t mean to imply that these two things were connected. I’m telling you that they were connected. We know because the shooter told the FBI where he got the idea.
Conservatives have used this to try to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups. But the sad truth is that if you criticize someone, there’s always some small chance that an unstable person will read your criticism and decide its subject needs killing. The shooting is still not the fault of the writer, but the fault of the shooter.
(Just in case it helps, I interrupt this column to point out that you should not shoot anyone I write about, or anyone I don’t write about, or anyone.)
Also, you don’t need to manufacture ersatz accountability in order to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group tally. You just need to tell people what’s on the list.
Some of the groups named are what anyone would think of as a hate group, like, you know, the Ku Klux Klan. But other entries are a festival of guilt-by-association innuendo about people with at best a tangential relationship to the target institution, and whose statements fall well short of blanket group-calumny or calls for violence. Or the center offers bizarrely shifting rationales that suggest that the staff started with the target they wanted to deem hateful, and worked backward to the analysis.
Think of them as leftist propagandists and grifters and you won’t go far wrong.