Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal firm dedicated to defending life, family, and religious liberty, has been the recipient of a defamatory article published Gatehouse Media in which the firm was included in a list of active “hate groups” in Florida. The article, entitled Florida ranks 2nd highest in US in hate groups, lists Liberty Counsel as a hate group, calling it “anti-LGBT.”
The Southern Poverty Center Law Center (SPLC), which has been largely discredited as a far-left organization, has a long history of falsely labeling nonviolent people and organizations as “haters” or “hate groups” simply because they do not agree with the SPLC’s radical leftist agenda.
As a result of the article, Liberty Counsel has sent a demand letter to Gatehouse in which they are being instructed to respond with corrective action by August 22 or face a lawsuit.
“We hope to avoid the necessity of suing Newschief/Gatehouse Media over this label, but will not hesitate to do so unless it is immediately retracted,” the letter states.
It goes on to say that any claim that Liberty Counsel is a “hate” group is simply false and warns that the false “hate” label is very damaging to their reputation and is a safety risk to their staff.
This has been born out by recent events such as the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and others at a Republican Congressional member practice for a charity baseball game this past spring. Scalise was falsely accused of promoting white supremacy and supporting a “hate group” founded by former KKK member David Duke. The shooter, James Hodgkinson, “liked” the SPLC Facebook page.
In 2012, the SPLC’s spurious “hate group” list was directly linked to the attempted mass murder of employees of the Family Research Council in Washington DC. The attack was stopped by a security guard who was shot in the process. The shooter later confessed to the FBI that he was motivated by the “Hate Map” published on the SPLC website.
In 2014, Mark Potock, the SPLC’s public relations chief, admitted during an interview that the groups listed on the map have nothing to do criminality or violence. “It’s strictly ideological,” he said.
He has also been videotaped admitting that SPLC does not monitor hate crimes. “I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.“
This is not the first time the media has used the SPLC's phony "hate list" fuel the fires of division in the U.S. In the past month, ABC and an NBC affiliate in Arizona also used the list as an excuse to defame yet another conservative legal firm, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), as a hate group.
The American Family Association (AFA) is another victim of this list which was used by CNN to slander the pro-family organization which represents millions of Americans. This is the same organization that launched a highly successful boycott of Target stores in the wake of their policy to allow people to use bathroom and fitting room facilities according to their gender identity. Even though CNN retracted the label in the news article, it still uses a link the SPLC's "Hate Map" which lists the AFA as a hate group.
"It is irresponsible for CNN to use SPLC’s discredited materials. By doing so, CNN is engaging in spreading fake news and putting innocent people in harm’s way based solely upon their biblical position that marriage is between a man and woman," the petition states and is demanding that CNN stop using the list as a "source."
In light of the recent Charlottesville tragedy, this kind of defamatory behavior is even more dangerous.
“Gatehouse Media has committed a grave harm and injustice to both the public and to Liberty Counsel,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.
“Including Liberty Counsel in the context of the Charlottesville violence using the same ‘hate group’ label is defamatory and dangerous. Any responsible journalist would know that this false label has resulted in at least two attempted mass murders targeting people and organizations that are nonviolent. . . . Not once did any journalist with Gatehouse reach out to us to verify their trash story. This article is the epitome of ‘fake news.’ It is not just fake, it is dangerous and compounds the division in America.”
In the meantime, Liberty Counsel is calling upon Gatehouse Media to do the right thing and “to retract and correct this article immediately.”
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