Thursday, September 27, 2012

Peter Sprigg is a Lying Sack of Shit

But you probably already knew that.  And to be fair, I don't know how much of a hand the FRC's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies had in writing their latest release, but he was the one to tweet it and so my ire will focus on him.

From the top:

The SPLC calls itself "a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry."[1] It developed its reputation by monitoring the activities of racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.[2]

WRONG!  Okay, partially right.  What Sprigg omits is that the Southern Poverty Law Center has monitored the activities of any groups that have a vendetta against any class of people whether they are of a certain race, religious background, or sexual orientation.

It was founded in 1971 by Morris Dees, who had made a fortune in direct mail marketing. He used the same skills at SPLC, turning it into a powerful fundraising machine.[3] It has an annual budget of about $30 million,[4] but also a massive "endowment" of $223 million as of 2010,[5] including funds in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.[6] The American Institute of Philanthropy has given SPLC a grade of "F" for continuing to fundraise while sitting on such a massive pile of money.[7]

Again, Sprigg comes at us with a degree of truth.  Aside from "sitting on such a massive pile of money," being a stupid thing to put in a professional document, and Sprigg citing an article that specifically says it shouldn't be cited, he is correct.  The SPLC did receive those ratings from the AIP, the same AIP who has come under fire for not using Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles (GAAP) in how they financially rank charitable organizations.  A review of the reputability of carious ranking organizations reads like a "he said, she said" shitfest straight out of Mean Girls, so take that information however you want.

Journalist Ken Silverstein wrote in Harper's magazine in 2000, "Today, the SPLC spends most of its time-and money-on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate."[8]

Moving past the irony of the FRC using the term 'circuit rider,' a traveling clergyman from the early days of the United States, I want to examine the word 'peddling.'  Traditionally it simply means to sell, but more recently it has come to be associated with cheapness and forgery.  Let's take a look at Peter Sprigg for a moment.  As I said, Sprigg is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council.  In such a position, one would expect Sprigg to have a degree in maybe sociology, statistics, or psychology.  Sprigg's degrees are in Economics and Political Science.  In short, they make Sprigg completely unqualified for the position he is in, or to disseminate any sort of scientific literature.

Logically, a "hate group" should be defined as one whose members 1) actually say that they hate a particular group of people; and/or 2) engage in or condone violence or other illegal activity toward such a group.

It's like Sprigg doesn't even know the internet exists.  What kind of condoning violence would you like to see?  Maybe FRC President Tony Perkins comparing LGBT to terrorists?  Maybe the instance where Perkins said the Ugandan bill that called for the death penalty for LGBT was simply "upholding moral conduct."  Sprigg has been even worse in playing things fast and loose with his lips.  He wrote this in 2011, calling for the legitimization of bullying LGBT teens:

Therefore, the logical take-away from the study would be this: the most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a “positive social environment” for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

As Dan Savage has pointed out, LGBT teens are already at 4 times the risk of committing suicide as other teams.  Being raised in a hostile environment makes it 8 times.

Sprigg also called for the criminalization of "homosexual behavior" on Chris Matthews's show Hardball.  By Sprigg's own criteria, the Family Research Council has every right to be considered a hate group.  Moving on.

The SPLC, however, uses much broader criteria for defining "hate groups," and criteria which can vary depending on which of fourteen categories of "hate groups" you are looking at-ranging from "Neo-Nazi" to "Black Separatist" to "Radical Traditional Catholicism." These criteria are entirely subjective and largely ideological.[9]

A friend recently penned a sports article called "The Losing Disease."  Perhaps we should adapt that to "The Lying Disease" for Sprigg.  Thought to be fair, part of the problem is in the SPLC's unnecessarily vague classification of hate.

Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.

However, in the Anti-Gay section of their intelligence files, they specify:

They (Anti-LGBT groups) have disseminated disparaging "facts" about gays that are simply untrue — assertions that are remarkably reminiscent of the way white intellectuals and scientists once wrote about the "bestial" black man and his supposedly threatening sexuality.

The SPLC goes on to say here, that the FRC is listed as a Hate Group, not because of it's opposition to Marriage Equality, but because of the known falsehoods the group continues to propogate, among them the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron, linking gay men to pedophilia, and the absurd statement that, "In a 1999 publication (Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia) that has since disappeared from its website, the FRC claimed that “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,” according to unrefuted research by AMERICAblog."

While their rhetoric ties "hate groups" with actual "hate crimes,"[10] the SPLC acknowledges alleged "hate group" activities include constitutionally protected activities such as "marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing," and that the "hate group" designation "does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity."[11] However, they do not distinguish between racist or violent groups and legitimate organizations that participate peacefully in the political process-tarring all with the same label.

Again, Sprigg commits a blatant, and easily debunked lie.  Sprigg also seems to think that race is the only legitimate motivation for hate as he unnecessarily mentions it.  The SPLC's intelligence files classify the groups they monitor by ideology, group, and relevant individuals as well as breaking down the history and acts committed by various groups.

As genuine "hate groups" such as the Ku Klux Klan have dwindled, the SPLC has broadened its target list in order to justify its continued existence. In recent years, whole categories and new groups have been added not because of actual "hate" activities, but because they hold conservative positions on controversial political issues such as immigration[12] and homosexuality.[13]

Again, Sprigg conveniently ignore the fact that the SPLC has targeted such groups, not because of their positions themselves (which is why organizations like the Boy Scouts don't make the list), but because they actively engage in spreading lies and demonizing various classes of people.  Sprigg's brief seems to have turned to a desperate plea to convince people that he isn't an asshole, as he mentions immigration for no real reason.

The SPLC claims that the number of "hate groups" in America increased by a staggering 66% from 2000 to 2010.[14] Yet this is only as a result of their own expanding definition of what constitutes a "hate group." Actual hate crimes, as measured by the FBI, fell nearly 25% between 1996[15] and 2009.[16]

It's funny that Sprigg laments the addition of anti-immigration and anti-LGBT groups to the hate categories and tries to justify it with the decline in hate crime statistics.  Maybe Sprigg should have mentioned that the FBI has reported massive increases in hate crimes committed against Latinos and LGBT.  In fact, 2011 had the most murders of LGBT individuals ever recorded.  Let's recap that real quick:
  • Sprigg criticized the SPLC for adding anti-immigration and anti-LGBT groups.
  • He used the fact that hate crimes have declined from 1996 to 2009 to support his criticism.
  • However hate crimes against Latinos and LGBT individuals have risen amid the overall decline.
So one of two things has to be true: 1). Sprigg is unaware of the more specific data, and thus has proven he is unqualified to release such a brief and thus should never be trusted, or 2). Sprigg is aware of the more specific data and has intentionally deceived people with its omission in his brief and thus should never be trusted.

The SPLC's Mark Potok has publicy confessed that there is "an element of hypocrisy" in the SPLC attacking conservative groups while remaining silent about liberal groups that use "exactly the same kind of tactics."[17]

I have to give Sprigg credit here for at least being a little sneaky.  Potok said that there was an element of hypocrisy when he started with the SPLC in 1997.  He did not say that there is an element of hypocrisy in how the SPLC currently operates.  And to go one step further, Potok's wish 15 years ago was that the SPLC would include more groups on it's watch list.

A liberal writer in The Humanist said, "The SPLC campaigns for laws that will effectively deny free speech and freedom of association to certain groups of Americans on the basis of their beliefs. . . . [T]hen, with no discernible irony, it goes on to justify its Big Brother methods in the name of tolerance."[18]

Finally Sprigg concludes by providing a broken link to an article that was written in 1995, because that's relevant somehow.  Given his history, I wouldn't be surprised if the age of the article, or the broken link were intentional to make it harder for people to debunk his lies, not that it was especially difficult to begin with.

It's great that Sprigg, and others within the FRC want to speak out on this.  It causes more people to look up exactly what the FRC does, and it gives them the opportunity to run the mouths they're so, so bad at keeping shut.  That is almost the biggest LGBT asset in itself.

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