Family Research Council Chief: The Southern Poverty Law Center Gave a Gunman "A License" to Try to Kill Us

Hoisted with their own petard.


Politico reports:

Just because the SPLC does it doesn't mean you have to do it too.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Thursday said the shooting at the conservative Christian organization's Washington, D.C., headquarters was an act of terrorism and he accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of fostering the climate that allowed the crime to occur….

The FRC head noted that while he holds [Floyd] Corkins solely responsible for the shooting, he believes the Southern Poverty Law Center must also be held accountable for its "reckless" labeling of the FRC as a hate group.

"Corkins was responsible for the wounding of one our colleagues and one of my friends yesterday here at the Family Research Council, but I believe he was given a license by a group such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, who, as you pointed out earlier, labeled us a hate group because we defend the family and we stand for traditional, orthodox Christianity," Perkins said.

Two reactions. Number one: No, the SPLC did not give Floyd Corkins "a license" to start shooting at the Family Research Council, just as Glenn Beck did not give Byron Williams a license to plan a massacre at the Tides Foundation and just as the pro-life movement did not give Scott Roeder a license to murder an abortionist. Activists are not accountable for all the ways their words might be received. Corkins is responsible for his crime. Period.

Takes one to know one! Nyah nyah nyah!

Number two: Where do you think Perkins learned to mouth off like this? The SPLC might not be handing out licenses, but it sure is giving people lessons. When a crime is committed by someone you can plausibly (or even not-so-plausibly) associate with the right, the SPLC has levied these accusations as lustily as anyone. When Williams targeted Tides, the group proclaimed that the "rhetoric that helped inspire Williams to pack his car with guns and ammo and head toward San Francisco finds echo throughout the rightwing media world." After an assassin attempted to kill Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- and did kill six others -- the SPLC ran an editorial headlined "Expert: Political Rhetoric Likely a Factor in Arizona Shooting," complete with an echo of those inane attempts to link the crime to Sarah Palin's target map. (The perp's politics and Palin's turned out to have pretty much nothing in common. But even if he were a devoted Palinite, she wouldn't have given him a license to shoot.) The folks at the SPLC certainly aren't the only ones who play this game. But they play it often enough that they shouldn't be surprised when they're hoisted with their own petard.

NEXT: Ugandan Prime Minister's Website Hacked

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  1. Hat tip to me.

    1. Hat tip to my colleague Lainie Frost.

  2. Oh shut up a your face, statist arse at FRC! The SPLC can say all the stupid things that they want to. It's called free speech, get over it already. Another nutcase, nothing more to see here.

    1. True, but it's still quite delicious to see this trope thrown back in their faces.

      1. I smell a false flag operation.

        1. smells like Teen Spirit?

    2. nope. Free speech cuts both ways. When groups like the SPLC froth at the mouth, they shouldn't get their knickers in a knot when their targets froth back.

      Free speech does not include a provision that others agree with you, nor does it inoculate you from consequences. Frankly, I am beyond delighted to see the left get a taste of its own tactics.

      1. they shouldn't get their knickers in a knot when their targets froth back.

        It's all just part of the show, folks!

  3. The whole "new tone" thing was just the Left in full whiny baby mode after losing in 2010 with some Palin hate thrown in.

  4. Obviously most of us believe people are responsible for their own actions, but it is fun to see the SPLC on the receiving end of this ridiculousness.

    1. Have the SPLC's chickens come home to roost?

      1. chickens


    2. Mmmmmmm....this goose sauce is just as delicious with gander!

  5. The key difference is that, unlike the Giffords shooting, this shooting was in fact directly motivated by plain old politics (Corkins even said "I don't like your politics" right before shooting Leo Johnson).

    We have even had whackjobs right here at Reason making wild and outlandish claims in recent days, like the claim that the F.R.C. is lobbying the Ugandan government to commit genocide against gays in their country. So where are these lunatics getting this "information" from? It certainly isn't from mainstream media outlets like the New York Times, and it appears to most likely be coming from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    This kind of stuff is political libel, and while the lawyers would know better than I do, it appears to me that the F.R.C. might very well have grounds for a civil lawsuit against the S.P.L.C. And you can be pretty sure that that they will be exploring those options fully in the weeks ahead.

  6. Just a straightforward application of the Silver Rule, appropriate in high-conflict situations: You may do unto others as they have done unto you, and yea, verily, their bitching about it will not be heard.

  7. Can someone here explain that cartoon? Is that somebody dropping a book onto a model airplane, and "a better way" is sought to park books, such as shelves? Or was that person attempting to fly an airplane with a book on it, and is looking for a better way to deliver books?

    1. I share your confusion about the message in that cartoon. Son, I am don't get it.

    2. The WHITE kid is throwing the book at the BLUE (as in 'Team Blue') airplane. He is obviously a violent, racist, hate-motivated tea-partier who should be arrested.

    3. A childish attempt at explaining a better way to handle anger.

      1. I don't think so. The person throwing or dropping the book doesn't look angry.

  8. So the SPLC is a(n official) hate group now? Are they going to list themselves on their website?

    1. I'm guessing no


      I met this with silence, so he said that, really, the SPLC only tracks those who commit violence or who seek to destroy whole systems in the name of an ideology.

      "Isn't that exactly what happened in Cleveland?" I asked. "These five men, all linked with Occupy Wall Street, attempted to blow up a bridge as an overture to the wholesale destruction of Cleveland, Ohio, and in the name of anarchism. They also looked to blow up the Republican convention."

      "They were anarchists," he repeated.


      He paused. "We're not really set up to cover the extreme Left."

      This was at least honest. He must have heard me thinking, because he continued, "Some people ask why we don't cover prison gangs or the Crips and the Bloods, because they are violent, too. But they aren't political, you see."

      "But Occupy is political," I suggested.

      1. In the mind of a leftist asshole, if the right commits violence against the left the right is to blame, and if the left commits violence against the right, the right is still to blame. It's a nice win-win situation for them.

        1. Yep.

          When one on the right commits violence it's because he's a racist/extremist radical bent on hate.

          When one on the right commits violence it's because they had to stop racism/extreme radicalism from happening.

          When you own the establishment that controls the conversation and the language used to define the conversation, you can have anything, any way you want.

  9. Like others, it is nice to see the SPLC hoisted on its own petard.

    Luckily, no one was killed this time and the sec guard is supposed to recover as far as I know.

    1. Actually, and this is for Jesse too, a petard is a bomb that was used to blow holes in castle walls. So, one is hoist by their own petard, not on or with.

      1. If I understand correctly, Shakespeare coined the phrase and used "with."

        In Shakespeare's usage, Hamlet used RG's letter to have them executed, and remarked that it was great sport to see an engineer hoist with his own petar.

        "With" seems reasonable since the actor, Hamlet, was using RG's petard to hoist them. This is similar, since SPLC is being hoist by various critics who are using their own weapon to do it.

        1. If I understand correctly, Shakespeare coined the phrase and used "with."

          You understand correctly.

  10. "Activists are not accountable for all the ways their words might be received."

    Bullshit. The fucking root word in activist is act. The sole goal of an activist is to motivate someone to act.

    1. And as such, an activist is liable as they should have foreseen this potential outcome.

      "Gee officer, how was I supposed to know that giving a toddler a loaded gun could cause any harm?

      1. So grown men are as responsible and able to reason as toddlers? We all must need a NANNY then. Thank you Comrade Pip!

      2. Yeah, Pip, this is pretty weak sauce. Unless someone at SPLC made a very specific incitement, which as far as I know did not happen, they are not actually responsible for this. Even if they are hypocritical douchebags for holding to blatant double standards.

      3. If you're stupid enough to act on the mere words of someone else, you've got far, far bigger problems.

        And no, I'm not my brother's keeper and neither are you, mine.

    2. The fact you desire people to take some action does not make you responsible for any action they might take. The goal of McDonald's advertising is to motivate me to act (specifically the act of buying food from them). That doesn't make McDonald's responsible if, after watching their ad, I go shoot up a Burger King.

      1. Further than that, it does not make Mickey Dee's responsible if you actually buy one of their 'burgers'.

      2. But if the advertising that McDonald's is putting out includes things like claiming that the Burger King Corporation is committing mass genocide in Upper Volta, it starts to get dicey fast.

        1. To hear "Food Activists" and Blomberg tell it, BOTH companies are committing genocide in the US and worldwide.

          1. I'd be willing to entertain the argument that that horrible rubber meat McDonald's uses should be considered a crime against humanity.

        2. Then it becomes an issue of slander, which Burger King can handle civilly. It doesn't make McDonald's directly responsible if some asshole decides to go shoot up a Burger King.

          1. It's true that McDonald's can't be held criminally liable for someone else's independent act in any way. But the legal threshold for possible civil liability is a lot lower than for a criminal statutory violation.

    3. The sole goal of an activist is to motivate someone to act.

      That is not the "sole" goal. More to the point, note the word "all" in the sentence you're criticizing.

  11. This is another great example of political priors shaping one's reaction. I think we all agree here that it's funny to see the FRC say this about the SPLC, because the SPLC says the same shit about FRC. Both are either idiots or political opportunists, making a dumb argument to create sympathy and embolden their supporters.

    I go to a progressive forum, and I also see posts saying things like "IRONY ALERT!!1". But the reason it's ironic is not because both organizations are wrong, but because the SPLC is right about FRC, and the latter is lamely trying to throw the accusation back at the former. Of course the FRC is a hate group that is fueling extremists; what's funny is that they dare to label any one else as such.

    1. Both are either idiots or political opportunists, making a dumb argument to create sympathy and embolden their supporters.

      Uh no. If the ADL calls the KKK a hate group and the KKK calls the ADL a hate group back, it doesn't follow that both must be political oppurtunists. One could be right and the other could be wrong.

      1. Or as in your example they may both be right.

    2. The thing is that one of these shooters had a demonstrable political motivation linked to the rhetoric of one of this groups, and it wasn't Jared Loughner or the Tea Party.

  12. The SPLC is estopped from protesting against the FRC's criticism, because it simply follows the SPLC's own template - OMG people criticized a person or group, they must be to blame for some would-be murderer plotting to attack the group!

    The FRC has a competent security guard who almost certainly averted a massacre at the cost of being shot in the arm. There's no essential difference between this shooter and the more successful ones in Colorado or the Sikh Temple, the only difference I see has to do with the would-be victims' ability to incapacitate the criminal before he killed anyone.

    The shooter, then, is morally equivalent to someone who carries out a mass killing at a less-secure target area. Applying the SPLC's own standards, that means the SPLC has incited mass murder.

    What I would particularly like to see is the SPLC's sputtering indignation denying any connection to this attempted mass killing, and how many of their own principles they will have to repudiate in order to do this.

    1. update: Poor-talk, the SPLC guy, didn't even try to engage that issue, understandably enough. Too bad Walker wasn't able to debate him directly.

  13. Sorry, Jesse. I think you made good points, but your problem is you're trying to reason with Californians who listen to talk radio. They can't get past their emotions to look at the problem rationally.

  14. Just want to reiterate once again that there is not really a moral equivalency here. While there is not, and never was a tangible connection between the Tea Party and Jared Loughner, there demonstrably IS a connection between Corkin's motives, his politics, and the FRC's politics.

    So not only did the SPLC falsely attempt to link Loughner to the tea Party, using it as a basis for demanding the Tea Parties tone down their rhetoric, they are sufficiently hypocritical that now, when there ACTUALLY IS a plausble reason to think they might have inspired this guy to go shoot someone, they think there's something appalling about attributing his actions to their rhetoric.

    The two cases are not mirror opposites. In one case, there actually is a plausible link, and that is not the case where the SPLC has advanced such a link.

    1. I think the appropriate comparison is to Byron Williams or Scott Roeder, not Jared Lee Loughner.

  15. I always thought the Red Sox and their fans were just fellow citizens peacefully exercising their rights, including the right to express opinions with which I disagree. How blind I was.Thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center, I now realize what should have been obvious all along - the Red Sox and their followers are a hate group:


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