The new war on hate

Hatred in the Name of Fighting Hatred

How the Southern Poverty Law Center became a Hate Group

In the 1950s and 60s the war on racism and sexism rose to its highest level since the American Civil War. A movement for social justice gained momentum, coalescing around the young, liberal, anti-war college crowd uniting them with anti-racists fighting to liberate Blacks, and a growing women’s movement to eradicate institutionalized racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. The movement was so successful that within a couple of decades, nearly all vestiges of institutional racism and sexism were outlawed and racist groups in particular, were forced underground. By the end of the 1980s, the “southern man” debated and immortalized by Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd was all but extinct.

Organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center were instrumental in waging and winning that war. There were still battles to be fought, but these were on a much smaller scale. They mostly involved crimes committed by individuals that indicated that the fires of racial hatred weren’t quite out. These crimes were dubbed “hate crimes” and organizations like the SPLC fought and lobbied to pass special legislation that dealt more harshly with “haters.” In fact, today organizations like the SPLC continue to maintain relevance by waging these small battles against alleged haters. But in its struggle to remain relevant, the SPLC appears to have forgotten its raison d’être.

Recently the SPLC published and posted to its website an article railing against the misogyny it claims to have found in the men’s movement. Arthur Goldwag’s Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement is everything the SPLC has opposed over the years. Goldwag uses scant evidence to argue that the leading bloggers active in the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) support and glorify violence against women and other forms of misogyny. To accomplish this, he uses examples of the worst kinds of atrocities and attempts to paint a wide range of men who he associates with the MRM as being supportive and representative of all men involved in the movement.

He begins with Thomas Ball, a man who believed he had been wronged by the Family Court system after having abused his daughter. After ten years of fighting to remain in his daughter’s life, Ball self-immolated, leaving behind a rambling manifesto detailing his struggles and calling for revolutionary action. Although he is not the best example of fatherhood, nor of a man being wronged by the system, many in the MRM have held him out as a prime example of what can happen to a man whose rights have been consistently trampled. Ball has become their champion, not because he slapped his daughter, but because of the drastic action he felt forced into by an uncaring, unfeeling system that deprived him of his family the same way it has deprived a great many men of their families. Many men in the MRM have felt much the same way Ball must have felt before lighting himself on fire. By committing that act, Ball said the one thing that many men have wanted to say for a good portion of their lifetimes. What matters to these men is not whether or not Ball was crazy, not whether or not he was abusive, and not whether or not he was a misogynist. What matters is that he stood up and told the system to “fuck off.” But Goldwag doesn’t get this. Instead he focuses on Ball’s alleged defects and chooses to believe that the men of the MRM idolize an abusive misogynist.

He later moves on to Anders Behring Breivik who gunned down 77 Norwegians, mostly teens, at a summer camp in June of 2011. Breivik was primarily upset with Muslim immigration and this was given as the primary reason for the shooting, but Goldwag links the MRM to him because he was an advocate for father’s rights and quotes him as stating

““The most direct threat to the family is ‘divorce on demand,’” he wrote in the manifesto he posted just before he began his deadly spree. “The system must be reformed so that the father will be awarded custody rights by default.””

Never mind that the radical feminists of the 1960s explicitly stated a goal of breaking up families and pushed no-fault divorce as a means to that end. Apparently opposition to feminist ideology is equivalent to misogyny and that is more than enough to condemn an entire movement for the actions of a single lunatic who was apparently more concerned with immigration issues. Of course Goldwag doesn’t stop there. He throws in George Sodini, Scott Evans DeKraai, and the apparent father of the men’s rights movement, Mark Lépine, who he states fired “the first shots in this so-called war on feminism…”

Almost any movement could be condemned if all we examined was its lunatic fringe. With feminism, one doesn’t even have to look beyond the mainstream. As bad as the aforementioned killers were, I don’t recall any of them advocating for the extermination of half the planet’s population. But that’s precisely what Valerie Solanas advocated in her SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men) which she penned shortly before shooting artist Andy Warhol and another man approximately twenty years prior to Lépine’s founding of the MRM. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall a single men’s organization rushing to defend Lépine’s actions. However, Ti-Grace Atkinson, radical feminist and president of the New York chapter of NOW, called Solanas “the first outstanding champion of women’s rights” and heralded her as “a ‘heroine’ of the women’s movement.” Robin Morgan, former editor of Ms Magazine, included excerpts in her book, Sisterhood is Powerful. Other feminist authors such as Amanda Third and Catherine Lord have credited her with creating radical feminism and have stated that the feminist movement would not have occurred if it hadn’t been for Valerie Solanas. The only person who thinks Mark Lépine started the MRM is Arthur Goldwag. Solanas may have been the lunatic fringe, but those who applauded, praised, excused, and condoned her actions are or were very mainstream.

Since Goldwag didn’t stop with Lépine, this article shouldn’t stop with Solanas. Goldwag enlists the assistance of Rita Smith, director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in discussing parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a mental disorder Smith believes doesn’t exist. Goldwag and Smith paint the disorder as way for men to get custody of children by making it appear as though women and children lie about abuse in divorce proceedings. Goldwag fails to mention that PAS is being reviewed for inclusion in the DSM by the American Psychiatric Association even though he does mention it isn’t included. The omission of this is evidence of the outright dishonesty of Goldwag’s article. The reason it is important to mention the opposition to PAS is the existence of women such as Andrea Yates who murder their children (and/or husbands) and then plead not guilty by reason of insanity citing post-partum depression or battered wife syndrome. While Yates may not be associated with feminism, mainstream feminist organizations such as NOW have advocated the use of these defenses by such women.

Another woman who used such a defense was Lorena Bobbitt, who severed her husband’s penis and tossed it into a field nearly twenty years ago. Like Solanas, she was heralded as a feminist hero. She claimed that he had abused her for years and had raped her. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and possible PTSD and found not guilty by reason of insanity, despite the fact that there was substantial evidence that the abuse in the relationship had been mutual and her statements to police indicated that she knew exactly what she was doing.

In a similar incident, Catherine Kieu Becker drugged her soon-to-be ex-husband before slicing off his penis and tossing it into a garbage disposal. Like Lorena Bobbitt, Becker became an instant celebrity. Mainstream feminists applauded, laughed, and joked. The Talk, a nationally televised program feature its all-female team of hosts giggling and laughing themselves silly over the incident. Sharon Osborne referred to the incident as “delightful” and the all-female audience roared with laughter. We’re not taking about lunatic fringe elements with somewhat vague connections to a movement here. These are examples of mainstream women, feminists, and feminist organizations applauding acts of vicious acts of violence against men. Where was Goldwag’s or SPLC’s outrage at the institutionalized misandry displayed following these events?

Goldwag also excoriates men’s rights advocate, Paul Elam, owner of the blog A Voice for Men for calling out a feminist blogger who wrote “about her discomfort with male adults helping female toddlers in the bathroom at her daughter’s preschool. The blogger conceded that she was being sexist, but wrote that “I’d rather be wrong than find out if I’m right.”” Yes, the blogger admits she’s a sexist, but Goldwag calls out Elam for being misogynistic for not accepting her apology. Does the SPLC support sexism against men? Apparently it does.

Another article composed a list of alleged men’s rights websites that it dubbed “Misogyny: The Sites.” While the term “misogyny” may apply to some of these sites (I haven’t visited all of them and don’t care to), the SPLC presents scant evidence to back its claims. For instance, The False Rape Society, a blog that discusses cases where women (and men) have falsely accused others of raping, sometimes with very disastrous consequences, the evidence that the site is misogynistic is an article “attacking a female supporter of… Michelle Bachmann” told a reporter that “It takes a woman to get things done.” The article at FRS pointed out the misandric nature of that statement. No further evidence of misogyny was presented. That was more than enough to place them on the list of misogynist websites.

MensActivism was included for copying headlines for news articles published elsewhere. According to SPLC these articles are meant to undermine “the myth that women are less violent than men.” SAVE Services is included for referencing a study that concluded that the best predictor of injury to women from domestic violence is the woman’s initiation of the violence. They also misrepresent SAVE’s position on services for victims of dv. Rather than advocating to “roll back services” as the SPLC claims, SAVE advocates eliminating the gendered nature of services and including services for male victims and female perpetrators. Obviously it takes very little for the SPLC to consider a website misogynistic.

Yet they leave off openly male-hostile websites such as radfemhub that openly advocate the extermination of men. One woman states “Even if we killed off 90% of men…” Another commenter states “The “magic number” to bring males under control is ~ 30% of the population…” Another suggests “a biological solution” to “men’s sickening behavior” and in a separate post that same commentor states “a female ob/gyn that was willing to perform sex-selective abortions on male fetuses would be giving a gift to the next generation…”

Obviously it is far more difficult to be declared misandric, though it is doubtful that the SPLC believes misandry even exists.

A third article, written by Mark Potok and Evelyn Schlatter, entitled Men’s Rights Movement Spreads False Claims about Women accuses MRM sites of spreading false or exaggerated claims about domestic violence and sexual assault committed by women. In fact, Potok and Schlatter do their own hatchet job by providing some very nicely cherry-picket statistics to support their conclusions. They completely misrepresent the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey by citing some statistics that support their conclusion, but also ignore other statistics contained in that report that support exactly the opposite. This study found that 18.3% of women have been raped compared to 1.4% of men according to Potok and Schlatter. What they don’t say is that the study defined rape in such a way to ensure that almost no male could be a victim. Rape was defined only as a penetrative act. Being forced to penetrate was not included in the definition even though this is defined as rape in every state. They also failed to report that over the preceding 12 months, this same study found that had the definition included being forced to penetrate, men and women reported similar rates of rape and women comprised the majority of perpetrators against men.

Potok and Schlatter criticize the overgeneralization of a study by Deborah Capaldi that showed that women were more likely to be injured in domestic violence incidents when they initiated the violence. This may be a correct criticism, however, I have seen references to other studies that confirm Capaldi’s results with other populations that may be more generalizable (I don’t currently have those references to cite). Next they cite a DOJ study regarding violence in general as being committed by predominantly males. However, they ignore other studies such as the CDC study by Whitaker that indicate about half of all IPV is reciprocal (both partners are violent) while women commit approximately 71% of non-reciprocal IPV.

Finally, they criticize a study by Eugene Kanin that concluded that 41% of rape allegations ar false. They criticized his methodology stating that he did not provide the criteria used by police to determine that an allegation was false. However, Kanin did state that he only considered an allegation false if the woman had recanted the allegation. Further, the police department was said to have used or threatened to use a polygraph with the accuser and call this a “now discredited practice.” They cite no source for this statement and to my knowledge; it has never been studied empirically. That said, Kanin’s figures were probably quite high and there may be some validity to these criticisms. However, Potok and Schlatter go on to discuss the studies they believe to be “the most comprehensive” and “the best” without providing any support or reasoning behind these claims. Most likely, these were simply the studies that reported the lowest rates of false allegations that Potok and Schlatter could find. Typically, studies that find very low rates of false allegations use exceedingly restrictive definitions and are statistically more likely to contain more false negatives (in this case a false negative would be a false report of rape being counted as not false). Kanin’s study, by contrast probably contained a greater likelihood for false positives.

The Southern Poverty Law Center appears to be taking a stance against hatred and bigotry only when taking such a stance supports its prevailing ideology. In fact, the SPLC would now appear to be perpetuating hatred and bigotry by publishing intellectually dishonest articles that misrepresent an entire movement concerned with social justice for men and making it easy for hateful bigots, sexists, and female supremacists to marginalize and dismiss those concerned with men’s rights and to advance a hateful anti-male agenda. In what could be characterized as a desperate attempt to remain relevant, the SPLC has employed the same sort of tactics that it accuses the MRM of using to promote misandry; the hatred of men, and by so doing has become a hate group.


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