by Juliana Dauchess

A “hate group”? Far from it. This month, an ABC headline led to a general outcry as the biased news source denounced the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) organization as an “anti-LGBT hate group.” Where did ABC get this radical label from? From the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a formerly-respected nonprofit legal advocacy group that has gradually morphed into a Leftist organization that polices other institutions around the country. It was SPLC that first deemed ADF a “hate group,” and it has ruined the reputations of many other organizations with its harmful labels.

Let’s get the facts straight: ADF is a conservative nonprofit organization that focuses on “funding cases, training attorneys, and successfully advocating for freedom in court” and is centered on the issues of “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” ADF’s strong opinions on these contentious topics already make them a target of left-wing hostility, but SPLC’s label just added fuel to the fire.

SPLC is now regarded by both the Right and the Left as a bogus “advocacy group”. What they really do is attempt to stir up a commotion by calling groups that they do not agree with names. Other institutions that SPLC has targeted include the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Jewish Political Action Committee, and the American College of Pediatricians, claiming that they spread hatred by opposing the transgender agenda, among other causes. None of them seem particularly hateful; rather, they stand for traditional values that are not so popular in today’s society and political world.

SPLC has repeatedly lashed out at institutions dedicated to promoting and defending conservative values or, in other words, organizations that hold opposing views. For example, they regularly publish lists of hate groups and even have an interactive “hate map” on their website which allows users to track the progress of hate groups throughout the nation. The constant propaganda that promotes tension and anger among different political groups has had real-life repercussions as SPLC has been tied to violent acts. For example, both the shooter who wounded Congressman Scalise and the shooter who attacked the Family Research Council were connected to SPLC. It is strange that SPLC will publically denounce organizations that work peacefully to spread their own values, while at the same time ignoring the horrific violence that they themselves play a part in.

ABC should have seen red flags when they copied and pasted their headline of ADF being a hate group from SPLC’s website. Any institution that routinely attacks groups of differing beliefs should be black-listed, and disregard for this has fed into the fake news epidemic that has infected the media. SPLC’s journalistic malpractice against ADF was the piece of straw that broke the camel’s back, and now all of their abuses are coming into the light for the public to see.

ABC has not yet responded to ADF’s request for an apology and retraction of the story, and SPLC continues to declare that they were justified in their presumptive labelling. We can all learn a lesson from SPLC’s latest bungle: it is imperative that we disagree with others in a mature, respectful way. Perhaps we should take note of how the officials at ADF handle themselves, as they take their differences to the court and settle their issues there. And that is most likely where SPLC will end up – they chose the wrong organization to bully this time.

Juliana Dauchess is a 2017 Summer Fellow.