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Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, speaks at a press conference August 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Is the Family Research Council a hate group? The head of the conservative Family Research Council says out-sized rhetoric and its inclusion on a list of hate groups contributed to the shooting of an unarmed security guard at their headquarters earlier this week.
The list is part of a “Hate Map” published each year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors white supremacist groups, citizen militias, and, increasingly, larger organizations like FRC and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FRC president Tony Perkins told Bill O’Reilly today, “Because they disagree with our positions on marriage and certain religious issues, [they] have labeled us a ‘hate group’, and that gives license to lunatics like this to come in with a gun and shoot innocent people.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center condemned the shooting, and says it never advocates violence as a solution. But it’s not taking the Family Research Council off its hate map, either. SPLC fellow Mark Potak has said his group, “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.”
It seems far-fetched to say that the SPLC is responsible for the shooting because of its list. However, it raises the question – when do you call a hate group a hate group, and why? And does the Family Research Council qualify?
Mark Potok, Senior Fellow, Southern Poverty Law Center
Jesse Walker, Senior Editor, Reason Magazine and Reason.com; author of a forthcoming book, The United States of Paranoia