Friday, February 8, 2013

The Dumbest False Equivalence of the Week

The week, we have seen right wing groups attempt to falsely equate SPLC's criticism of FRC with FRC's anti-gay rhetoric. That has taken a backseat to this afternoon's effort by National Organization for Marriage:

  • NOM: Chorus of Voices Decry Media Double-Standard on FRC Shooter, SPLC. Top conservative writers and bloggers are all pointing out the double standard the media is applying to the FRC shooter and SPLC, compared to the outcry the media expressed in the wake of the Rep. Gabby Giffords shooting as they attempted to pin the violence on right-wing politics.
  • Breitbart: It's impossible not to notice that this is precisely what many on the left accused Sarah Palin of doing in January 2011 after Jared Loughner shot Rep. Giffords and several bystanders in a Tucson parking lot. 
  • Red State:  I hope my friends in the media who spent much time talking about Sarah Palin’s political target map will now talk about the Southern Poverty Law Center’s routine and reckless use of the label “hate group” with which is smears conservatives.
  • Hot Air: Why yes, this is eerily similar to the left claiming after Gabby Giffords was shot that Palin’s “crosshairs” election map inspired Jared Loughner. With two differences. First, Loughner was not, in fact, inspired by Palin whereas this guy, per his own plea bargain, did consult the SPLC website in choosing people to kill. 
On January 8, 2011, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen others were shot during a constituent meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in the Tucson metropolitan area. Six people died.

Palin's cross-hairs map was "published" in March of 2010. Palin introduced it with a tweet; "Don't retreat, instead- RELOAD!"

While a number of people did, in fact, note that Giffords was in Palin's cross-hairs, nobody blamed Palin. Palin was accused of very bad taste for using gun violence imagery for political purposes.

Furthermore, there is a false narrative rattling around in the right wing echo chamber. It is true that the FRC shooter visited the SPLC website. Corkins, however, does not claim to have selected his targets from the SPLC hate group list. He was also pissed off at Chick-fil-A which is not listed by the SPLC as a hate group.

The right are upset that the SPLC includes anti-gay hate groups     most of whom are Christian organizations. Their criticism is misdirected. The SPLC has very specific criteria for being designated a hate group. There is a reason, for example, that Family Research Council is listed while Focus on the Family is not. Indeed, National Organization for Marriage is not listed. I think that they should be but that is a different topic.

The right are always upset with "the liberal left wing media." In this case that, too, is misplaced. They are creating yet another false equivalence that the human rights work of the highly respected SPLC  is somehow comparable to Sarah Palin's political tweets and Facebook postings. Moreover, listing hate groups is part of the work that SPLC does. Using cross-hairs to identify political "targets" was entirely discretionary. The criticism of Palin had nothing to do with her political leanings but her choices in the way in which she expressed them.

Yet one accurate equivalence is missing. Just as nobody blamed Sarah Palin for the Tuscon shooting, nobody should be blaming SPLC for the shooting at Family Research Council.

I suggest that NOM et al direct their criticism at FRC for defaming some of their fellow citizens unless, of course, they agree, for example, that gay men are predisposed to be child molesters. As for the gay community, we have been non-violent in thought and deed. Our leadership came together in a "chorus" of disapproval over the shooting of an employee of Family Research Council.
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