Friday, August 11, 2017

Is Anyone at Liberty Counsel Capable of Uttering Objective Truth?

“Transcending advocacy, the willingness to stray from the truth has become a compulsion to lie.”
Hate Group Leader Mat Staver
Hate Group Leader Mat Staver
We have become accustomed to Mat Staver's crazy prevarications. They form part of the reason that Liberty Counsel is considered a hate group. Staver is still running around claiming that Kim Davis won the case against her. I suppose that the fact that she is not personally liable for the legal fees (Kentucky is on the hook for nearly a quarter-million dollar reimbursement) is some sort of victory. There is more to this than Staver's glazed-over lies from lunacy about the grand conspiracy evidenced by the Homosexual Agenda™. It would appear that mendacity has become part of the organization's culture. Transcending advocacy, the willingness to stray from the truth has become a compulsion to lie.

Case in point is a piece today attributed simply to Liberty Counsel Staff. Taking cues from Trump it is titled: “GuideStar 'Playing With Fire' With Hate Group Label.” I have already written about this matter and there is no reason to repeat myself. Suffice it to say if Liberty Counsel has a problem with being designated a hate group they should take that up with Southern Poverty Law Center. Suing GuideStar for using information from SPLC is abuse of process. Liberty Counsel is using this to raise more money than their expenses (considerably more perhaps) and they might sufficiently intimidate GuideStar into not renewing its use of the designation — something that has no worked, at least thus far.

Here are two examples. Neither is that big of a deal and that is precisely the point. Why lie about something when there is absolutely no reason to do so. It becomes pathological like Trump's insistence that his crowds were the biggest of all time:
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice's Disciplinary Counsel for the Executive Office for Immigration Review sharply rebuked and reprimanded attorneys representing the SPLC and its allies for employing the SPLC's "hate group" label to denigrate a conservative advocacy group. It concluded that employing the label against groups with which it disagrees "overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional." It continued that such behavior is "uncivil" and "constitutes frivolous behavior and does not aid the administration of justice."
The matter in question has very little to do with SPLC. As succinctly as possible this involved two immigration matters before DOJ's Office for Immigration Review. SPLC was not a party to either matter. The Board of Immigration Appeals requested amicus briefs from opposing groups, one of which was FAIR, an anti-immigrant hate group. Four lawyers, one of whom is a staff attorney for SPLC, asked for leave to appear as friends of the court in order to file a motion to strike the FAIR amicus brief. They used some colorful language claiming that FAIR “is a discredited, extremist anti-immigrant organization espousing white supremacist, eugenicist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic views.” A disciplinary review board essentially found that the language served no meaningful purpose regarding the underlying legal issues:
The decisions of Mr. Strawn, Mr. Adams, Ms. Cho, and Ms. Brodyaga to engage in derogatory name-calling exhibited a lack of professionalism that did not advance the resolution of J-S- or Silva-Trevino. While such misconduct is certainly within the jurisdiction of the EOIR Disciplinary Counsel, our office has concluded that the appropriate response is not the initiation of a formal disciplinary proceeding.
Eunice Cho is a highly respected lawyer with SPLC. Ironically, had the board held otherwise that would have given them the opportunity to assert that their accusations were a) factually true and; b) germane to the case.
  • Was this a rebuke? Possibly.
  • Was this a reprimand? Certainly not.
  • Was this about the hate group label? The board did not even cite the words hate group. “Discredited, extremist, anti-immigrant, white supremacist, eugenicist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic are objectively supportable by facts. Those lawyers were possibly quite restrained (I have not read their brief).
  • Did the board conclude anything remotely comparable to the notion that SPLC applies the hate group label to groups with which it disagrees or gratuitously? Not even close.

One more note on this regarding ethics. The board requested that the parties hold this letter in confidence. While not legally binding it was a professional expectation; one that FAIR violated. The only copy I found was at, an anti-immigrant hate site. Liberty Counsel lawyers know that they should not be citing material that was supposed to be held in confidence according to a legal profession review board. It seems highly unprofessional.

That all brings me to the second lie; after they indulge in calling GuideStar's CEO a far-left liberal who supported Obama and is intent on disparaging Liberty Counsel unfairly and for political gain while tweeting leftist shit and being pro-abortion )and so is his wife) and is a climate change supporter while supporting the rain forest activism and other green groups while, at the same time, being pro-homosexual and pro-transgender. And that's just the half of it.

When I say the second lie, it is the second that I choose to write about. Liberty Counsel's lengthy diatribe is loaded with misrepresentations, half-truths and misleading statements.
Foreign Policy Magazine has been harshly critical of SPLC's "hate group" label, noting, "The problem is that the SPLC and the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) are not objective purveyors of data. They're anti-hate activists." Foreign Policy concluded that the methodology used by the SPLC is fundamentally flawed, and that "if there is any lesson in all of this [hate group labeling], it's that the study of domestic American extremism shouldn't be the exclusive province of activists."
Claiming that Foreign Policy Magazine has been harshly critical of SPLC is like claiming that the New York Times supported the Iraq war because it published an Op-Ed by John McCain. At issue is a March, 2013 article by J.M. Berger, a respected anti-terrorism expert. It is anything but harsh. Here is the paragraph that LC enjoyed:
The problem is that the SPLC and the ADL are not objective purveyors of data. They’re anti-hate activists. There’s nothing wrong with that — advocating against hate is a noble idea. But as activists, their research needs to be weighed more carefully by media outlets that cover their pronouncements.
Nowhere in Berger's piece is there the slightest criticism of what LC calls “the hate group label.” Berger's criticism is based on possible duplication in the numbers. He writes (emphasis added):
The biggest issue raised by the hate list is when a local group should be deemed a separate entity from a national group. When you go to find the raw data online, the SPLC’s site explains that it counts counted "1,007 active hate groups in the United States in 2012," including "organizations and their chapters." But "The Year in Hate and Extremism" did not make the "chapter" distinction explicit. It is rarely drawn out in the organization’s frequent media appearances, nor was it mentioned in a letter from the SPLC to the Justice Department warning of the growing threat.
Berger also solicits comment from SPLC:
"These are groups," said Heidi Beirich, who heads the SPLC Intelligence Project. So if A3P [American Third Position Party] activists gather in Las Vegas, "it’s a group of people who get together to promote these materials." And if a different group of A3P members gather in another state, that’s a different group, according to the SPLC’s count.
Here is some more give and take. It is the way that grownups explore an issue:
Reasonable people can debate these reasons for including or disqualifying each of these listings, but the number of entries that require such debate is staggering given the specificity of the SPLC’s reporting. We’re not talking about a difference of 5 or 10 percent in the relative counts; it’s 65 or 70 percent.

"I do not think it’s misleading," said Beirich. "I think it would be much more misleading to say here’s 10 or 15 groups than to point out, the way we do, the way those groups are functioning. We want to show the geographic reach of those groups."

Counting an organization like A3P as one instead of 17 would "distort the data in a different direction," Beirich said. "It would look like there are American Third Position people active in just one location, and that would be false."
Berger reached a conclusion:
If there is any lesson in all of this, it’s that the study of domestic American extremism shouldn’t be the exclusive province of activists. Academics and journalists — a lot of them — need to turn their skills and objectivity toward this problem and start collecting evidence that can be published and rigorously reviewed.
That is not a slight on SPLC. What Berger wants is more independent investigation and he is one of those academics and journalists that he calls upon. I am not entirely sure that anyone could separate research from activism but that is not the point. In no way whatsoever did Mr. Berger disparage SPLC or its hate group listing. The only issues that Berger expressed is how the information should be presented numerically and how the press should treat that information.

Apart from Liberty Counsel, Berger's article was more than four years ago and no organization other than ADL and SPLC has brought to bear any real resources in this area. On the whole there doesn't seem to be much of a vacuum to fill. But I digress.

Clearly, Liberty Counsel's representation of the Berger article is a lie. They can get away with this nonsense because they know that the folks who take them seriously are not the most curious people in the world and are unlikely to follow the links. Liberty Counsel is pretty good at following the money — their money from their contributors. Given that all this hot air is irrelevant to the matters before the court, that is probably what it is all about.

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