Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Not surprisingly Liberty Counsel does a terrible job of "dubunking" the "myth" of their hate group designation

Monday night, Liberty Counsel sent out an unsigned email titled "Debunking the SPLC 'Hate Group' Myth." It's no myth. Notwithstanding anything that SPLC does, Liberty Counsel is an anti-gay hate group. They do their very best to portray gay people as diseased perverts who prey on, and recruit, children. LC promotes thoroughly discredited gay conversion therapy.

As for Southern Poverty Law Center, their record of advocacy on behalf of oppressed minorities speaks for itself. Liberty Counsel is one of the oppressors.

Update: Liberty Counsel is now posting this same drivel around the web as "Could Your Church Be Considered a 'Hate Group?'"
From the email:
The SPLC was founded in 1971 by Morris Dees, who had made a fortune in direct mail marketing. He used the same skills at SPLC, turning it into a powerful fundraising machine. It has an annual budget of about $30 million, but also a massive "endowment" of $223 million as of 2010, including funds in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. The American Institute of Philanthropy has given SPLC a grade of "F" for continuing to fundraise while sitting on such a massive pile of money.

SPLC's finances are irrelevant to LC's designation as a "hate group."

Nevertheless I will comment on a few things. Why review finances as of 2010 when LC has filed its 2014 tax return (form 990) for the year ended October 31, 1024? Laziness? Reliance on others? Some of the email is from a wiki called Citizendium. The article on SPLC was anonymously written in 2010. I never heard of this site before today. Someone doesn't know how to read these filings.

Again, this is all irrelevant but SPLC's real endowment (2014) is $3.6 million. The rest, about $300 million, is a "quasi-endowment" or, in this case, the amount of money available for investment. It  is also marked-to-market (rather than valued at cost) and 2014 was a very good year.

As for that "F" grade from American Institute of Philanthropy (Charity Navigator) the footnote is to that same Citizendium page which claims that "Charity Navigator gives it two of four stars, a 'needs improvement' rating." It footnotes to itself. I am not going to spend $50 on a Charity Navigator subscription to get this information and I doubt that the author did. Suffice it to say, SPLC is well funded. The quasi-endowment is important because 20% of the organization's revenues, in 2014, came from investment income.

None of this has anything to do with Liberty Counsel's "hate group" designation.

However, as long as we are at it, let's take a look at Liberty Counsel's filing for the year ended June 30, 2014. Unlike SPLC, Liberty Counsel is required to file a Schedule R listing all of its affiliates under common control. These include Luke 1827 Foundation, Liberty Counsel Action Inc. (Orlando), Liberty Counsel Action (Forest, VA), Freedom Federation, Liberty Action PAC and Salt & Light Council. To fully appreciate LC's finances one would have to consolidate LC plus these six affiliates, eliminating inter-company transactions. It's a project that I will do one of these days but it gets worse.

Liberty has three related organizations that are taxable as trusts. These are Liberty Mission Trust, Liberty Action Mission Trust and Freedom Mission Trust. We might be able to get financials with some snail mail correspondence but, at least for now, we know nothing about these.

This, too, has nothing to do with Liberty Counsel's "hate group" designation.

Getting back to the email (in part):
What does the SPLC consider a "hate group?"

Logically, a "hate group" should be defined as one whose members (1) actually say that they hate a particular group of people; and/or (2) engage in or condone violence or other illegal activity toward such a group.
So you have to use the word "hate?" And they can cause violence as long as they don't "condone" it? Seriously?
The SPLC, however, uses much broader criteria for defining "hate groups," and criteria which can vary depending on which of fourteen categories of "hate groups" you are looking at - ranging from "Neo-Nazi" to "Black Separatist" to "Radical Traditional Catholicism." These criteria are entirely subjective and largely ideological.9
That footnote cites SPLC's  "extremist ideologies" explanation and that includes "Anti-LGBT." So what? How does categorizing the ideologies debunk LC's hate group designation?
As genuine "hate groups" such as the Ku Klux Klan have dwindled, the SPLC has broadened its target list in order to justify its continued existence. In recent years whole categories and new groups have been added, not because of actual "hate" activities, but because they hold conservative positions on controversial political issues such as immigration and homosexuality.
This introduces the concept that there are "genuine" hate groups and that LC isn't one of these. The reality is that ideologies have been added as right wing rhetoric has become more toxic to LGBT people and immigrants. With respect to LGBT citizens, this represents push-back to the quest for equality which has always been defined as equal protection. The rhetoric of Liberty Counsel is actually inseparable from the rhetoric of the Klan and Nazi groups. It not only fosters discrimination but it leads to violence against LGBT people. LC's position is that they are neither directing nor committing violence. That does not eliminate their responsibility.
The SPLC claims that the number of "hate groups" in America increased by a staggering 66% from 2000 to 2010. Yet this is only as a result of their own expanding definition of what constitutes a "hate group." Actual hate crimes, as measured by the FBI, fell nearly 25% between 1996 and 2009.
Footnotes to support the FBI statistics are to pages that no longer exist (1996 statistics). However looking at the 2014 statistics nearly 21% of hate crimes are due to sexual orientation. That certainly warrants attention to the groups that foster this violence. This is all a cut and paste from another source - apparently another hate group, Family Research Council:
The source: The link is dead but Google has the page cached
The SPLC's Mark Potok has publicly confessed that there is "an element of hypocrisy" in the SPLC attacking conservative groups while remaining silent about liberal groups that use "exactly the same kind of tactics."
This comes from a 2009 article in Utne.  It is out of context and goes back to SPLC's 1997 magazine. I am going to choose not to comment on some further nonsense from FRC (which LC has regurgitated) citing a 1995 article in The Humanist and a 1994 article in the Montgomery Advertiser. The links are dead.
The SPLC recklessly labels and defames organizations that believe marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Without offering any methodology for designating an organization a hate group, and without offering any of its research for peer review, the SPLC asserts that an organization is an "anti-gay hate group" for the "propagation of known falsehoods - claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities - and repeated, groundless name-calling."
This is directly from LC, presumably Mat Staver. Are they seriously suggesting that this is the kind of research that should be subjected to peer review? Peer review is associated with publishing an article in a scientific or academic journal. As LC admits, SPLC is pretty transparent with respect to why a group is designated as a hate group. I am quite sure that there is a considerable collection of correspondence between Liberty Counsel and Southern Poverty Law Center. 
The SPLC attributes three reasons for labeling Liberty Counsel as a hate group.

First, Liberty Counsel has defended marriage and has a sincerely held religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. 

Second, Liberty Counsel criticized hate crime legislation for punishing a defendant's thoughts rather than centering criminal justice on the actual injury suffered by a victim.

Finally, Liberty Counsel recognizes the human dignity of those who have changed their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions or behavior. Unlike the SPLC, Liberty Counsel does not marginalize their experience or demean the sincerity of their testimony.
Pure unadulterated, unprocessed bullshit! SPLC has a lengthy, up-to-date piece on Liberty Counsel, much of which consists of Liberty Counsel's own words. I am uncomfortable selectively quoting from a piece that everyone should read. I don't do the article justice but, according to SPLC:
With the expansion of equal rights for LGBT people, especially, the Liberty Counsel has come into their own, working to attempt to ensure that Christians can continue to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination in places of business under the guise of “religious liberty.” Through lawsuits and its annual Awakening conference in Orlando, the Counsel attempts to enforce the idea that Christian beliefs and law trump all other law.
And, finally, another bit of the bat that has nothing to do with Liberty Counsel's designation as a hate group:
"Hate Group" Label Leads to Violence

By falsely and recklessly labeling Christian ministries as "hate groups," the SPLC is directly responsible for the first conviction of a man who intended to commit mass murder targeted against a policy organization in Washington, D.C. On August 15, 2012, Floyd Corkins went to the Family Research Council with a gun and a bag filled with ammunition and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. His stated purpose was to kill as many employees of the Family Research Council as possible and then to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces (because the founder of the food chain said he believed in marriage as a man and a woman). Fortunately, Mr. Corkins was stopped by the security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins is now serving time in prison. Mr. Corkins admitted to the court that he learned of the Family Research Council by reading the SPLC's hate map.
According to his statement to the FBI "he had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center website." FRC is responsible for being listed as a hate group. SPLC has absolutely no responsibility for this incident which FRC and LC have been trotting out for over three years. It is clear that they simply want to delegitimize SPLC. Those efforts have absolutely nothing to do with Liberty Counsel being listed as a hate group.

Staver seems to believe his own BS and therein lies the primary problem. When you think that you are Jesus Christ's designee it is difficult to appreciate your circumstances.

Dear Reader:

In business I used to preach "never edit your own work." Well, that is precisely what I am doing. I am most appreciative of the corrections that come in from readers. None are too small to bother with.

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