Crime | Family Research Council | Floyd Corkins | Tony Perkins

Dana Milbank: The Southern Poverty Law Center's 'Reckless' Name-Calling

DanamilbankDana Milbank, the generally pro-gay Washington Post columnist, yesterday published a column in which he repeatedly insisted that he wasn't blaming the non-fatal Family Research Council shooting on the Southern Poverty Law Center's labeling of the FRC a "hate group." Nevertheless, he claimed that such "reckless" label-throwing "stirs up the crazies" and leads inevitably to violence:

... the organization that deemed the FRC a “hate group,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, [should not] be blamed for a madman’s act. But [it is] reckless in labeling as a “hate group” a policy shop that advocates for a full range of conservative Christian positions, on issues from stem cells to euthanasia.

... The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, is right to say that the attack “is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end.”

Milbank's argument rests on the assumption that the Family Research Council is, as he puts it, a "mainstream conservative think tank"; one which operates in good faith, eschews violence, and generally tries to manage its affairs in such a way that it will not contribute to the ruination or end of any human lives. RightWingWatch has disemboweled this argument rather neatly:

The reality is that FRC is not a “mainstream conservative think tank.” That’s why FRC is one of only a handful of the many, many groups that oppose equality for gays and lesbians to be designated a “hate group” by SPLC. There’s a big difference between being conservative and being an extremist, but many in the media are missing the distinction ...

RWW pulls out the most egregious example of FRC's unique craziness: FRC president Tony Perkins's support for Uganda's "Kill The Gays Bill," about which he lied to make the bill more palatable to American audiences. In 2010, on his radio show, Perkins said:

At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama took the podium calling for greater civility in Washington, which in my opinion is a laudable goal. However, his comments quickly turned to his preoccupation with defending homosexuality.

The President criticized Ugandan leaders for considering enhance penalties for crimes related to homosexuality. The press has widely mischaracterized the law which calls for the death penalty, not for homosexual behavior which is already a crime, but for acts such as intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS, or preying upon vulnerable individuals such as children, which has been a problem in Uganda for years because the large number of orphans.

The President said that “We may disagree about gay marriage, “but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are.” Mr. President, as long as you characterize efforts to uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable, as attacking people, civility will continue to evade us.

Actually, the bill did call for the death penalty for those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality" -- which is to say, repeat offenders. Those caught engaged in homosexual acts before having the opportunity to become repeat offenders were to suffer mere life imprisonment.

The relevant bits of the bill:

2. The offence of homosexuality.

(1) A person commits the offence of homosexuality if-

(a) he penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other sexual contraption;

(b) he or she uses any object or sexual contraption to penetrate or stimulate sexual organ of a person of the same sex;

(e) he or she touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.

(2) A person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

3. Aggravated homosexuality.

(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the
(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;
(b) offender is a person living with HIV;
(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed; (d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed; (e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

Very unambiguous. Which in no way means it's okay to shoot Tony Perkins or the security guards outside his office. It only means Milbank is a bit confused when he suggests that:

... the Southern Poverty Law Center should stop listing a mainstream Christian advocacy group alongside neo-Nazis and Klansmen.

Nope. That's right where they belong. Incidentally, it's not okay to shoot neo-Nazis or Klansmen, either.

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  1. So Dana Milbank is a unethical, prevaricating pile of crap then?

    Posted by: Polyboy | Aug 18, 2012 9:04:55 AM

  2. Milbank is just plain wrong- and it follows that he would tiptoe around anything that purports to be a Christian organization- something that automatically trumps intellectual thought from the start. The Post like any other publication is not going to make any critical remarks about Christianity. And if anyone thinks that there is going to be a thoughtful, unbiased examination of Mormonism is dreaming. We are more likely to see Willard in his magic underwear strolling down Pennsylvania Avenue....

    Posted by: nick | Aug 18, 2012 9:23:13 AM

  3. Dana Milbank is yet another person who simply doesn't get it. There is this prevailing attitude that is very insulting, to be frank, that it's OK to be homophobic and say as much anti-gay crap under the sun, and as FRC has done, advocate DEATH towards homosexual persons, under the guise of religion. There is still an attitude out there, that even many gays believe, that religion makes it OK to be vehemently anti-gay.

    That view is wrong. Being anti-gay is WRONG. And FRC is a HATE GROUP that spreads lies and intentionally attempts to pit groups such as blacks against the gay community. Tony Perkins not only worked with Ugandan parliament in drafting the Kill The Gays bill, but has made statements in the past that LGBT teens essentially deserved to die because they're not normal. This man and his partners goes out of their way to attack and destroy our community yet they're not a hate group?

    When is it going to dawn on people that it's not OK to hate people solely because of their orientation?

    Posted by: Francis | Aug 18, 2012 9:27:35 AM

  4. That he is and that he always was, Polyboy.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 18, 2012 9:33:26 AM

  5. While I agree that the FRC is a completely useless and bigoted group. They are not a hate group in the same vain as the violent and murderous Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazis, or even the Westboro Baptist Church.

    Ironically, the young man who reportedly volunteered at gay charities and then decided to go murder as many as he could at the FRC was the one in this instance acting like the violent hate groups I mentioned above. Not good at all for our cause.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Aug 18, 2012 10:00:47 AM

  6. Wow. He's wrong.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Aug 18, 2012 10:05:07 AM

  7. Tony Perkins and people like him go on national media tours and peddle phony theories and bogus science (even though they reject "science") and outright lies to push a discriminatory political agenda. That's not something I would describe as "mainstream Christian advocacy". The SPLC is correct in labeling FRC as a hate group because they are certainly not a mainstream Christian advocacy group and is exactly why the SPLC doesn't describe ACTUAL mainstream Christian advocacy groups as hate groups. Dana might want to un-fog his glasses.

    P.S. I love how he labels NOM as a "pro-marriage" group when their entire existence is based on legally preventing people they don't like from marrying. That's rich Dana.

    Posted by: Robert Ellison | Aug 18, 2012 10:05:31 AM

  8. "mikenola08
    6:34 AM PDT
    FRC has supported and called for the decimation, destruction and incarceration of LGBT people. The FRC continues to falsley claim that LGBT people have an agenda to harm children, and that they are Pedophiles.

    That is hate speech.

    Perkins goes on the national media and behaves as if he has done no wrong and lies about comments he makes and that his group makes. Then he goes on the extremist right wing sites and says different things.

    FRC has had direct dealings with the KKK and David Duke.

    each of those three links contains monitoring articles from Right Wing Watch that include definitve proof of the actions and words of FRC.

    Dana Millbank is a self loathing gay dude who cannot bother to do research and when the proof smacks him in the face he takes it like a battered wife who claims it wasn't the abusive husbands fault."

    -- One of the letters answering Millbank in the WaPo

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 18, 2012 10:17:14 AM

  9. @ Robert Ellison

    Dana didn't label NOM as a pro marriage group. He was quoting what NOM says about itself. Re-read the article.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Aug 18, 2012 10:22:12 AM

  10. @Brins in Texas

    Thanks for pointing that out. The main and most important part of my post still stands. Have a good one :)

    Posted by: Robert Ellison | Aug 18, 2012 10:27:26 AM

  11. Brandon Thorp

    I want to thank you and other gay journalists that are focusing on this story. Dana Milbank is not a conservative but he is part of the DC establishment press, so his column carries some weight and can not be dismissed as the work of a right wing crank. It is very important that the facts do not get twisted, even if the reason is a benign misunderstanding.

    Again, kudos!

    Posted by: Watcher | Aug 18, 2012 10:30:35 AM

  12. He also uses the ridiculous phrase "deeply held religious beliefs", which means he loses instantly right there. As if that means anything. On the contrary. It means their whole foundation is a made up nonsense.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 18, 2012 10:32:42 AM

  13. I am going to have to agree with Francis in this instance (gulp!).

    If FRC were only opposed to marriage equality--however disingenuous their reasons for it--it would not be fair to call them a "hate group".

    But they go WAY beyond this. They actively try to fan the flames of homophobia and inspire people to treat gays as social pariahs and would love to see even private homosexual acts re-criminalized. They would deny us the most basic rights of citizenship.

    And yes, their support of legislation in Uganda that would literally result in the execution of people simply for having sex with someone of the same gender cannot possibly be regarded as anything but the actions of a hate group.

    When you deliberately try to villanize a group of people on every level imaginable, your collective actions cease to be "differences of opinion" and become persecution.

    I don't see how any reasonable individual could view it any other way.

    Posted by: Rick | Aug 18, 2012 10:41:09 AM


    Posted by: Scott Rose | Aug 18, 2012 10:44:39 AM

  15. OMG, Rick! Rick, is that really you? Or has an anti-trolling troll hijacked your name? :) Sprinkle me with fairy dust and lay me down to die!

    Thank you, sincerely, for the pleasant, polite and thoughtful post.

    Posted by: Elegir | Aug 18, 2012 10:58:19 AM

  16. Oh, how sweet. "We're a hate group but don't call us a hate-group because someone might get angry at us for hating homosexuals and thinking they should have no rights".

    Suck it Milbank.

    Posted by: Bobby | Aug 18, 2012 11:00:59 AM

  17. I do not agree with violence, but I strongly disagree with such vision of the freedom of speech in USA that become freedom of hate. In very democratic and civilized countries like France, UK, Italy and Germany, Tony Perkins, the FRC and the members of Westboro church they would be in jail since long time ago for hate speech. Germany did the mistake to let Hitler to abuse of his freedom of speech and we know what's happened.

    Posted by: lukebrux | Aug 18, 2012 11:02:57 AM

  18. "mainstream conservative think tank"
    "mainstream" is debatable. "think tank" label is absurd. They don't think. They based their logic mainly on the Bible or "tradition"? Calling themselves "Research Council" is like Mitt calling Ryan an "intellectual" simply for putting together some numbers called the "budget".

    Posted by: simon | Aug 18, 2012 11:16:30 AM

  19. He doesn't blame the the shooting on the Southern Poverty Law Center's labeling of the FRC a "hate group." However, according to him it is such 'reckless' labeling that motivates/entices the crazies. Really? Does he even understand what is he saying. Equivocal fool, it's like saying FRC's a hate group but still one should never condemn it. You namby pamby, what do you think we should be better doing then? Read your fu*king ARTICLES.

    Posted by: Alejo | Aug 18, 2012 11:17:02 AM

  20. "However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way." -Leviticus 25:44-46

    If there were a Biblical-based organization advocating for the return of slavery, would Dana consider them a hate group? Dana, as sometimes happens with a "liberal" columnist, is trying to have it both ways.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Aug 18, 2012 11:18:51 AM

  21. I don't even know where to start with the general screwed-up-ness of this article..

    -FRC *is* a hate group. I don't think the burden is on SPLC when someone uses that to justify doing something illegal. It is not the responsibility of SPLC or Glenn Beck or Rachel Maddow or Ann Coulter or Streisand etc to make sure the mentally ill aren't using their ideas to hut or kill others. The issue is our country does a very poor job of providing the care that people with mental illness need and prefer to instead just deal with the outcomes including homelessness, assaults, fatal shootings etc- it's a public health issue/risk but I'm starting a tangent

    -I am upset by this piece because from what he says he does sound supportive of marriage equality, however he is one of the heterosexuals for which the "culture wars" are losing novelty, and from his place of heterosexual privilege you can see him getting turned off b/c it's not that deep of an issue to him. I hope more allies do not go down this path as the "Religious Right" will double down before they fold and I think we're in for a lot of ugliness before we ultimately win. Luckily more people are seeing the "RR's" true colors (which would be wrath and pride)

    -yes, the KKK is a hate group, but it's also an organized crime syndicate, and I don't think you need to be at that level to be a hate group. It's like saying McDonald's isn't a restaurant because there are 5 star restaurants that exist. I would also consider more extreme anti-mexican-immigration groups hate groups even if their actions were solely political

    Posted by: MaddM@ | Aug 18, 2012 11:19:54 AM

  22. Seriously? I feel like this country is becoming more and more homophobic on a daily basis.

    This is insane.

    Posted by: Joel R. | Aug 18, 2012 11:41:29 AM

  23. He's not really an ally of ours at all if he can't inform himself as to WHY FRC are catagorized as a hate group. He just flippantly mouthed off, threw LGBT under the bus, and wrote a piece that DIRECTLY connects us and groups that support us for contributing to the tension...when the tension is paved by homophobia. That begins all these chaotic events.

    Posted by: Greg Cali | Aug 18, 2012 11:43:34 AM

  24. This piece written is nothing but hetersoexual privilige

    Heterosexual privilige dictates they can vote on our relationships, fire us from our jobs, ATTACK OUR YOUTH, attack our livelihood, and proudly display hate speech....

    ...and we DARE NOT respond, or call a spade a spade: a hate group. If we do, we deserve all the backlash we get and instead of calling out the haters, WE are made to feel guilt written for daring to have integrity to respond.

    Yes folks, heterosexual privilige has become the new hate flavor of the week and it's vile.

    Posted by: Cortiz | Aug 18, 2012 11:45:48 AM

  25. Can someone please provide this mans contact info? I believe we should ALL touch base with him, and *educate* him as to why Family Research Council and NOM are rightfully and very factually deemed hate groups. And how truly irressponsible it would be, for millions of gay children, for these groups to have that label removed.

    This man just sounds ignorant. It's unfortunate to be ignorant, but it's downright dangerous to be ignorant and speak your ignorants in an article as a matter of fact.

    Posted by: IonMovies | Aug 18, 2012 11:49:01 AM

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