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August 30, 2011

To Tell the Truth: Hate Groups In America

I was researching anti-gay hate groups, and I came across a blog post written by David Shelton, that really resonated with me. I had great feedback after Tina Dupuy's excellent guest post about whether sexuality is a choice, so I wrote to David and asked if I could share his blog post with my loyal readers here. I think the message is important, and I think he supports his view in a compelling way. David is a writer, graphic artist, designer, illustrator, film critic, and small business owner in Clarksville, Tennessee. He is the CEO and Art Director of Imagine Media Solutions, Inc. and the publisher of Business & Heritage Clarksville. Please check out his blog and websites. Thanks David!

Treat Hate Groups With The Contempt They Deserve

By David W. Shelton 

In order to “balance” discussions on LGBT rights, many media groups will consult with certified hate groups to offer “opposing views.” The reality, though, is that they’re affirming bigoted viewpoints for those on the fringe.

When the Southern Poverty Law Center added new groups to their list of certified hate groups late last year, the “honorees,” including the well-known “family” groups like American Family Association and the Family Research Council, were immediately apoplectic. The “family” groups in question all shared the same argument as they whined their way onto Fox News about their new status. “We were singled out because we’re Christians,” they said. “We are being persecuted,” they declared.

There’s not a lot that can be said for their defense, other than that they are dead wrong. Hate groups are listed as such for some very clear reasons. Yes, there are groups that are listed as being “anti-gay,” but the reality is that simply being opposed to equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is not enough to be listed as a hate group. Mere belief doesn’t define hate — it’s when belief leads to questionable and immoral acts that defines it.

Interestingly, these are the same groups that insist that sexual orientation doesn’t define a person’s sexuality — only sexual acts themselves. Yet, while they’re denying the reality that sexual orientation is a complete myth, they’re also denying the very clear reality of their own dishonesty and rejection of even basic science in order to elevate their cause by degrading their targets. Clearly, theirs is a world where facts, science, and history just don’t matter.

So what makes the aforementioned AFA and FRC, which are otherwise popular groups within conservative culture, hate groups, and not merely “faith-centered groups” that happen to be “persecuted because they’re Christians?” The short answer is that it centers around truth — or the lack thereof.

The AFA has a number of different people within its groups which bolster their hate group title. Their star spokesman is a vile radio show host by the name of Bryan Fischer. In the name of “family,” Fischer has made a wide array of revolting statements:


“Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” (May 2010)

“I mean, ladies and gentlemen, they are Nazis. Homosexual activists, when it comes to freedom of speech, are Nazis. When it comes to freedom of religion, they are Nazis. There is no room in their world for dissent, there is no room in their world for disagreement, there is no room in their world for criticism. You criticize homosexual behavior, they tag you as a bigot and a homophobe and then they go to work to silence you just like the Roman Catholic Church did in the days of Galileo – it’s no different; it’s the Spanish Inquisition all over again.” (May 2011)

I’ve talked here before about the consequences in Islamic cultures of inbreeding, because of the practice of marrying first cousins. Now you can get away with that for once or twice, but Muslims have been doing this for fourteen hundred years and because this is what Muhammad did, they always will do this, they will always defend it, they will always practice it. And this kind of inbreeding results in an enormous cost in intellectual capacity, intellectual quotient among the Islamic people. It’s just a plain fact. You can’t argue with it, it’s just simply the truth. And you get hammered for saying it, but that’s because the truth has now become hate speech, the truth has now become bigotry.  (May 2011)

Fischer’s statements have sometimes been even too radical for the AFA itself, leading them to attempt to distance themselves from their favorite blowhard. Yet, despite all their attempts to try to soften his ludicrous rhetoric, they keep him on the payroll. I would suspect that the SPLC would consider removing the APA from their list of certified hate groups if they’d get give Fischer the boot. This is unlikely, however, since he’s giving them really big ratings. I’d love to be proven wrong, though.

The Family Research Council is the more widely accepted of the two hate groups, and the most visible. Thanks to the clean cut, boy-next-door image of Tony Perkins, the very vocal leader of the FRC, they get a lot of air time. They’re one of the largest “family” groups in the country, despite their abject dishonesty and outright obsession over the gays.

Peter Sprigg, one of their spokesmen, has a long history of bogus rhetoric. He has declared that he thought all homosexuals should be “exported” and has said that homosexuals are the same as pedophiles. Sprigg also wants gay sex to be outlawed once again:


Matthews pressed him on the question: “Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?”

“I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned the sodomy laws in this country was wrongly decided,” said Sprigg. “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”

“So we should outlaw gay behavior?” asked Matthews again.

Yes,” said Sprigg.

Perkins has a long history of spewing falsehoods and lies in the name of his organization. Like Sprigg, he has declared that homosexuals will “more likely molest children than straight men,” an assertion that has been widely rejected and discredited. Recently, the trend has been to cite “research” by right wing fringe groups like the American College of Pediatricians as unbiased scientific research on the issue — as if the ACP is a “leading” group of pediatricians.


“If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children,” Perkins said. “So Mark is wrong. He needs to go back and do his own research.”

Mark Potok, Director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, explained just what the ACP really is, leading MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to offer an on-air smackdown to Perkins’ little citation as the fraud that it is. Potok writes:


In fact, the American College of Pediatricians is a tiny group of doctors who broke away from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2002 because the latter group supported LGBT parental rights. The American College of Pediatricians, believed to now have about 200 members, explicitly demands, as a condition of membership, that would-be joiners “hold true to the group’s core beliefs … [including] that the traditional family unit, headed by an opposite-sex couple, poses far fewer risk factors in the adoption and raising of children.”

… In other words, the American College of Pediatricians, despite its erudite name, is akin to the fake environmental front groups some energy corporations have set up to make dubious claims about the non-existence of global warming.

There’s more that Perkins failed to mention about the American College of Pediatricians. Until this spring, long-time anti-gay propagandist George Rekers, who has testified against adoptions by same-sex couples, was on the Pediatric Psychosocial Development Committee of the American College of Pediatricians. That ended when it was revealed that Rekers, who also was a founding member of Perkins’ FRC, had just returned from a two-week European vacation with a male prostitute. Rekers insisted that the man had merely been hired to carry his luggage, but the man disagreed. In fact, he told reporters, Rekers had hired him to perform daily nude massages.

All mention of Rekers has since disappeared from the college’s website.

The latest screed from Tony Perkins is a fundraising letter that “exposes” the wildly successful “It Gets Better” project, an effort in which people submit YouTube videos of messages to gay-struggling kids that life gets better beyond the bullying that many kids face in school. “It Gets Better” was started in response to a rash of suicides by gay teens last year. The exposure — as Tony Perkins sees it — is that the “it Gets Better” project is really about getting gay kids to accept themselves as they are, as if that’s a bad thing.
And this is a man frequently used as a “resource” for discussions on gay rights on news channel. No, it’s not limited to Fox News.
The SPLC has been very thorough in their work to properly list hate groups. While there are several organizations that are categorized as “anti-gay,” they are not certified as a hate group — it takes clear actions for this to happen.

For example, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is listed as anti-gay — but not a hate group. Their actions have been very much geared toward preventing marriage equality for gay people. Their work has been rather pathetic, really — including a very poorly-attended bus tour. While their actions have indeed been anti-gay, they don’t frequently resort to lies to get their message across.

Unfortunately, NOM is very quickly stepping into the same excrement that led the FRC and AFA to becoming listed as hate groups, declaring that allowing same-sex marriage will result in “normalizing pedophilia.”

This isn’t the real problem. Fringe groups have been given far too much of a voice in media to provide some sense of “balance” in discussions where the debate over equality has largely been settled. Yes, highly religious people have been very opposed to any form of equality, but their objections are rarely based on facts over doctrine. Since the US legal system is not based on the Bible or any religion, then their doctrines just don’t apply.

The reality, though, is that there is a growing understanding of LGBT issues within some Christian circles, making the religious discussion far from a one-sided issue. With the Episcopal, some Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, and large factions of the Methodist church all squarely on the side of equality, there’ are plenty of people who are convinced that granting full equality to LGBT people  is not only the right thing to do, it’s the Christian thing to do.

It’s time for those of us in the media to stop giving a voice to the extremists just because it apparently adds some twisted type of “balance” to the discussion. There’s nothing balanced about any of these hate groups. They revolve around lies, deception, dishonesty, and utter contempt for their LGBT neighbors. To be fair, gays aren’t their only target — just their most frequent ones.

Nothing is advanced by giving them a platform. No, wait. Yes there is — people who share their twisted, vile views are given confirmation and affirmation that their views are okay. They’re given affirmation that it’s okay to tell people that gays want to molest children, that it’s just fine to tell homosexuals that they’re evil, Nazis, or that they’re the very reason that the country is going to hell.

No, these people need to be shamed. This kind of rhetoric doesn’t deserve any platform but to be shown for what it is: hate. Pure hate. They deserve the same place in society as the snake-handlers and those who insist that women should be left barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Really, shame is sometimes too good for these monsters, but as it is, they don’t get exposed enough.

That needs to change.

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