Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage appeared on CNN this morning in the wake of the Family Research Council shooting. Brown calls for “civil debate” on all sides of the gay rights debate… which is strange coming from a group that says so many awful things about LGBT people. (In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center labels FRC a hate group.
The reporter did the right thing at that point: She brought up the Hate Group designation and asked Brown to comment on it… then posted an example of what FRC has said about gay people in the past:
“One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.”
Isn’t that hateful? she asked. Brown completely avoided answering the question by saying that sort of statement was perfectly legitimate.
She doesn’t really press him much more more on that, which is too bad.
But it raises a good question in light of what happened: Is it fair to call groups like FRC “hateful”?
David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement makes the argument that the “Hate Group” designation is appropriate. And it’s not just because they’re anti-gay (or else just about every evangelical Christian church in the country would be on the list):
It’s not that the FRC stands for so-called “traditional” marriage. They are welcome to do that. It’s that the Family Research Council spreads lies and uses junk science that has been thoroughly discredited by practically every major medical organization to do so.
Defending “traditional” marriage doesn’t make you a hate group. Lying about a group of people makes you a hate group.
Bingo. And FRC and like-minded groups refuse to change their minds in light of all the research that says they’re wrong.
Timothy Dalrymple (a Patheos blogger) coincidentally interviewed FRC’s Senior Vice President Rob Schwarzwalder last week and asked him questions about the “hate” word and the research they ignore:
One of the reasons the FRC is sometimes construed as “hateful” is because its representatives, including Peter Sprigg and Tony Perkins, have associated homosexuals and pedophiles. What do you say to these claims?
We’ve never claimed that all homosexuals are pedophiles. Of course not. We would never make that claim. Yet the data does seem to indicate that homosexuals have a significantly higher incidence of pedophilia than heterosexuals. There are many homosexuals who are just as morally horrified by pedophilia as heterosexuals. But the data indicates that there is a higher proportion of pedophiles amongst homosexuals. Whatever the reasons for that, it’s just a statistical fact.
But the supporters of same-sex marriage have their own studies and researchers to point to, and will claim that you’re appealing to “junk science.” How are non-experts to sort through the competing claims and competing data?
I would only say that I know the people who have done the research that we support. I know how rigorous and intellectually honest they are, and also how politically driven many national medical organizations have become.
… because evangelical Christians are known for their scientific rigor and all the national medical organizations just make shit up.
None of this justifies violent actions against the people involved in these groups, of course. No one is condoning that.
All I’m saying is that these two sides are not equal. Just like Rachel Maddow is not a “liberal Rush Limbaugh,” the groups fighting for LGBT rights are not just polar opposites of the bigots. Our side sticks to the facts. Theirs doesn’t.
***Update***: SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok has a strong response of his own:
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.
As the SPLC made clear at the time and in hundreds of subsequent statements and press interviews, we criticize the FRC for claiming, in Perkins’ words, that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem” — an utter falsehood, as every relevant scientific authority has stated. An FRC official has said he wanted to “export homosexuals from the United States.” The same official advocated the criminalizing of homosexuality.
Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC’s criticisms of the FRC and the FRC’s criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.
(Thanks to @64spokes for the link)