There are a great many flawed institutions within the United States that have somehow gained credibility, despite their bizarrely unfounded approach to the nation around them.
The Southern Poverty Law Center certainly fits this description.
The organization is most famous for its oft-quoted, yet entirely misunderstood, list of “hate groups”. Media entities such as CNN and the New York Times are huge fans of using the SPLC’s invented authority to attack conservative organizations and ideologies, as the Southern Poverty Law Center is creating these designations purely from thin air.
One would think that perhaps the “hate” designation bestowed on a group by the SPLC could easily be detached by a careful explanation from the group in question, but it’s not that simple. When you find yourself lumped in with the KKK and neo-Nazis, people start to take notice. Soon, your organization’s members could be harassed, their businesses and livelihoods targeted, and services denied all based on what the SPLC believes.
Unfortunately for many on the infamous list, the protocol behind their SPLC scarlet letters is incredibly broad.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re an organization that espouses certain religious beliefs. Despite the freedom of religion that exists in America, the SPLC can still impact your group and its members by arbitrarily assigning you to the list.
An example was made by Bloomberg this week regarding the Ruth Institute.
“Let’s look at how the center justified dubbing the Ruth Institute a hate group:
- “One link presents the Ruth Institute’s president, Jennifer Roback Morse, as having offered the ‘race-baiting’ comment that President Barack Obama was ‘more gay than he is black’ — an assertion that turns out to be an out-of-context quotation of an obvious verbal slip during a radio interview. That link also asserts that the Ruth Institute ‘reprinted a column blasting the LGBT movement’s ‘mythology of grievance and sexual oppression’; in fact, the column is on the broader topic of the sexual revolution, not just LGBT activism, and the ‘mythology’ refers to the (true) fact that many of the landmark legal cases that paved the revolution’s legal path, including Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas, were not entirely what they seemed.1
- “That same source claims that ‘The Ruth Institute even reprinted a column which attempted to link the Lawrence decision to the Penn State child sex abuse scandal’ — referring to a column about legal trends in which Lawrence is mentioned only in passing, as an example of the weakening of community moral standards as a basis for law. (Whether or not you think it was a good idea, this weakening has indisputably occurred, and the Lawrence case was a landmark exhibit.)
- “The SPLC also criticizes Morse (a Catholic) for calling homosexuality ‘intrinsically disordered,’ which I grant does sound gratuitously insulting to non-Catholics. But this is in fact a technical term in Catholic theology which also covers thingsheterosexuals frequently get up to. Disagree with it (and Catholic sexual teaching) as you will, it is not by itself evidence of a special animus toward homosexuals.
“If misspeaking in a radio interview, quoting the Vatican and promoting articles like these on your nonprofit’s blog are what now earn a spot alongside the Klan on a list of hate groups, then it may be time for the Southern Poverty Law Center to close up shop, because their work is largely done.”
In the unfortunate aftermath of their SPLC status change, the Ruth Institute was denied service by certain payment providers, despite having done years of business with the organization prior to the “hate group” badge being applied.
This then begs the question: Who is truly worthy of assessing and assigning what constitutes hate? Can the Southern Poverty Law Center turn around tomorrow, point to Walmart, and declare them a hate organization for not de-gendering their bathrooms? Will North Carolina become the first SPLC “hate state” due to their own concerns about the safety of young women sharing private spaces with whomever wishes to waltz in?
Where does it end?