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Right Challenges "Hate" Listing After Shooting

"[A]ccording to [Southern Poverty Law Center's] own standards, it is the SPLC that is to blame for yesterday’s shooting," Bryan Fischer, a controversial religious conservative, said.

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The shooting of a security guard at the conservative Family Research Council's headquarters on Wednesday in Washington and the arrest of a suspect in the shooting who had volunteered for D.C.'s local LGBT community center are turning a spotlight on the hard-edged relations between the opposing advocacy groups.

On Wednesday, with the exception of a statement from the National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown, most responses avoided political questions, unambiguously condemning the shooting and wishing for the speedy recovery of the shooting victim.

On Thursday, however, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer — profiled earlier this year at BuzzFeed — took the group's response to the shooting as an opportunity to criticize the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has designated both Fischer's group and the Family Research Council as "hate groups."

Noting that the Southern Poverty Law Center " argues incessantly that the use of inflammatory and incendiary language when talking about homosexuality promotes violence," he wrote, "according to SPLC’s own standards, it is the SPLC that is to blame for yesterday’s shooting."

He concluded by arguing:

[T]he SPLC, by their own hateful and malicious rhetoric against FRC and AFA, has essentially claimed responsibility for this shooting, and they too should be held to account in the court of public opinion.

SPLC claims it only lists organizations as “hate groups” if they engage in the “propagation of known falsehoods” about homosexuality. But the SPLC website itself lists numerous falsehoods about homosexuality. For instance, the SPLC says, without a single shred of proof, that homosexuals are born that way, that it is impossible to leave the gay lifestyle, and that homosexuals are not at elevated risks of depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.

In other words, if propagating known falsehoods about homosexuality qualifies an organization, then SPLC belongs on its own list.

We call on SPLC to explicitly and publicly condemn the motives of yesterday’s shooter, and to remove both FRC and AFA from its hate group list.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, is scheduled to give a news conference this afternoon.

The SPLC issued a brief statement on Wednesday, but had no further immediate comment today.

Chris Geidner is a Supreme Court correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Chris Geidner at

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