Monday, August 20, 2012

Family Resource Council shooting

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." — Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi

ON AUGUST 15 Floyd Corkins entered the Washington DC headquarters of the Family Research Council, a lobbying group that strongly apposes legalization of same-sex marriage, and shot a security guard. 

I rarely even kill bugs, so unsurprisingly my reaction to yet another shooting is disappointment, frustration and sadness.

I first learned that blame was being placed on the Southern Poverty Law Center from our friend Kit. To find out why a group so expressly and explicitly non-violent as the SPLC would stand thusly accused, I went to the Family Research Council's website for an explanation. 

I found a page called Washington Update on their site. Written in the first person, though the "I" is not identified, there's no room for doubt that whoever wrote it thinks that the SPLC is . . . well, you can read it below for yourself, taken directly from the website.

It is clear that the gunman is responsible for the shooting. But I believe it was the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has recklessly labeled groups like FRC that they disagree with as "hate groups," that created this hostile environment. The SPLC's listing of pro-family and Christian organizations alongside neo-Nazi and separatist groups gives radicals like FRC's attacker a reason to believe they have the license to come into our building to try to take the lives of our friends and coworkers. The SPLC has even labeled local parents' groups that oppose SPLC's pro-homosexual policies as "haters." The type of rhetoric that SPLC has engaged in is wrong, and, as we witnessed this week, it is dangerous.

My first reaction was remembering having learned either in graduate level family systems theory or maybe it was in the crisis hotline training I took years back, that in a two-part sentence where the first part consists of a premise and the second part begins with the word "but", the first part is usually negated by the second part. 

The writer first says that's it's clear that the gunman is responsible for the shooting, and then places the blame unequivocally elsewhere.

I thought I'd peruse the Southern Poverty Law Center's website to see if anyone there had something to say about the shooting. Mark Potok does, and he identifies the "I".

Here's Mark's response to the accusations made by Family Resource Council president, Tony Perkins:

For more than 40 years, the SPLC has battled against political extremism and political violence. We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right.

But this afternoon, FRC President Tony Perkins attacked the SPLC, saying it had encouraged and enabled the attack by labeling the FRC a “hate group.” The attacker, Floyd Corkins, “was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Perkins said. “I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”

Perkins’ accusation is outrageous. 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.

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