Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's hate got to do with it? Last week's FRC shooting

Hey there,

So remember that shooting last week at the "Family Research Council"? I know, that was barely a week ago. And Legitimate Rape Gate blew up on Sunday. Not saying that we, as a collective, can't focus on more than one issue at a time. But Social Media, and the 24/7 news cycle it fosters certainly doesn't help.

Just in case, last Wednesday a man entered the lobby of the FRC and shot a guard in the arm, before he was restrained and arrested. A number of LGBT groups signed on to a statement that was almost immediately released:
"We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers. 
The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident."
 View the statement and see which organizations signed on at GLAAD's website.

2 days after, FRC released a statement on its website, titled "After the Shooting, We're Still Standing". Contrasted with the joint sympathy from LGBT groups, for an organization that has actively demonized the LGBT community, if you read the statement, it doesn't take long before FRC's affirmation turns into accusation:
...I believe it was the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has recklessly labeled groups like FRC that they disagree with as "hate groups," that created this hostile environment."
Unfortunately for them, SPLC is anything but reckless in its methods. SPLC has a great page on the Family Research Council breaking down in depth why the organization fits under the label of being a hate group. They also had a well-written response to FRC's attempt to pivot the focus of the incident:
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. (read more)
Some conservatives have nonetheless jumped on the bandwagon and used this incident to criticize SPLC for "enabling" an act like this against an organization that supports traditional marriage, and as the tip of the iceberg of a larger war on religion. There's an article CNN put out, SPLC draws conservative ire, which discussed this. Part of the main complaint is that the FRC, in being labeled a hate group, shares the stage with white supremacist, neo-nazi, and other similar groups that might more readily come to mind.

But one of the best responses to this apples and oranges argument I've seen is up on The Christian Century, written by Steve Thorngate:
When the Southern Poverty Law Center listed the FRC as a hate group, I affirmed the SPLC's move (as did a Century editorial). Others protested, often contrasting the FRC with violent fringe groups. Hate, this argument seems to take as given, by definition lacks widespread support and engages in violence. 
But that's not the SPLC's definition. And the SPLC didn't simply lob the label "hate group" at the FRC and let people react as they may. It carefully and soberly spelled out its case: the FRC doesn't just criticize gays and lesbians, it speaks of them in totalizing and demonizing ways. And it relies on junk science to do this. According to the SPLC, this constitutes a form of hate. (read more)
To further my initial analogy, sure, even if this is a case of apples and oranges, they're both still fruit. No pun or irony intended, with this...no really. Hate is hate, regardless of how it manifests itself.

But I digress. One other article I thought really put things into perspective was one from the Baltimore Sun, on the politicization of the incident:
The SPLC has its own mission and its own criteria for evaluating organizations. Whether it was right in calling the FRC a hate group is not a debate that gay rights leaders need to have. (read more)
And we're back where we started, with LGBT groups unanimously denouncing this violent act. In addition to that, Chad Griffin (president of the Human Rights Campaign) tactfully addressed the very issue brought up above a couple of days ago, in a Washington Post opinion piece, weighing in on the conversation that  has been happening while putting perspective and remaining relatively objective. I love the point that he ends with:
We welcome the calls for reasoned discourse about LGBT equality. But that discussion must be predicated on truth, not demonization. No right-thinking person can believe a difference of opinion is license to do harm. At least on that, all of us can agree. (read more).
There's much more than I can address here, anywhere from FRC threatening to sue the SPLC, to discussions of what constitutes hate. Thoughts or comments, please share them, as well as any other articles you've found compelling.

And if there are any topics, current news, or issues you'd like me to consider for upcoming LGBT Tuesday posts, please let me know,


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