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Stop The H8

In my current project to help the Southern Poverty Law Center clean up their "Hate Map," I realized that I don't have a working definition of what makes a group a "hate group." It's a fairly nebulous definition. So I went to their main site to find out what their definition is.

That's when I found out that that nebulosity isn't a bug -- it's a feature.

Here's the closest to a definition I could find:

All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

And here are the broad categories that they break that down further:

Anti-Gay, Anti-Immigrant, Black Separatist, Christian Identity, Holocaust Denial, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Confederate, Neo-Nazi, Racist Music, Racist Skinhead, Radical Traditional Catholicism, and White Nationalist.

Let's take those one at a time.

Anti-Gay: The majority of those groups aren't anti-gay per se, but opposing gay marriage and further expansion of gay rights. I think that they're largely wrong, but I would not call all of them "hate groups."

Anti-Immigrant: Here the SPLC is engaging in the same sleight of hand that a lot of liberals do. The majority of the groups they list aren't anti-immigrant, but anti-illegal immigrant. And being in this country is hardly an "immutable characteristic." We as a society have already determined that these people are unwelcome; we already have laws on the books for it. What they -- OK, we -- want is the laws enforced. There's nothing hateful about that.

Black Separatist. No problems there.

Christian Identity. Again, no arguments there.

Holocaust Denial. Yup, screw them, too.

Ku Klux Klan. Hey, we're on a roll here! Screw the Kluckers!

Neo-Confederate: OK, to some degree. But most of 'em are romanticizing an era that had some good things, but a lot of ugly, too. If you tied these folks down and tickled 'em until they confessed (not that I'm recommending it), they'd admit that the South is a lot better off for having lost the Civil War. But there is a certain Southern Charm in the old days, and I'm willing to give a pass to most of those who speak with pride of their Southern Heritage.

The other assholes, though, who want to bring back the WHOLE South, with its inherent racism and segregation and oppression, if not outright slavery -- screw them, too. If THAT South rises again, the North might have to do the same.

Neo-Nazi: I hate Nazis. Especially Illinois Nazis, but I don't have any fondness or respect or tolerance for any of 'em.

Racist Music: I don't quite see the need to list them as a separate group. They tend to be affiliated with one or more other groups already listed. Why not lump them in with the groups their music supports?

Racist Skinhead: I'm developing a special hatred for these jerks, as my latest coif is in line with their distinctive look, and it could be taken as a sign of support. So screw them, too.

Radical Traditional Catholicism: Originally, I was going to give these folks a pass -- they seemed a cult more than anything else, and I believe that people can believe whatever they want. But then I did a little digging, and found out that these nuts are most often hard-core Jew-haters, and get along just fine with the Jewish Conspiracy proponents like the Neo-Nazis and the Klan and their ilk. So, screw them, too.

White Nationalist: Finally, screw them, too.

So, for the most part, I agree with the categories they SPLC has listed. But I'd like to add two categories that I'd consider in the spirit of the above:

Latino Separatist: These are the "no-borders," "reconquista" crowd that wants to "reclaim the American Southwest" from us "gringos."

Radical Islam: I think we all know what that includes. But the problem is, they've learned how to game the system. They're constantly starting up and shutting down groups, so it's hard to identify one group as a "hate group." They further complicate things by giving the groups utterly innocuous, if not positive, names that give them a veneer of respectability -- for a textbook example, see the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which funneled millions to terrorists. But for starters, take a good look at all the groups affiliated, tied to, or spun off from the Muslim Brotherhood. After all, Hamas -- the terrorist group that is the duly elected government of the Gaza Strip -- is the official affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Palestinian Territories.

I find myself wondering just why these two groups were omitted. One possible explanation could be that these groups tend to cross over into criminal and terrorist activities a lot more than the others, and so become a matter for law enforcement.

Another is that they are considered "protected classes," and thus aren't quite subject to the same standards others are. But the SPLC does list Black Separatists, so that kind of puts a dent in that theory.

Regardless, it's clear that the SPLC's criteria leave a lot to be desired. It's almost as if they wanted to keep their criteria as loose and vague as possible, so they could list as many groups as they could and increase the perceived danger. And that could be quite beneficial for their fundraising efforts.

Finally, I have to wonder what would happen if one of these groups were to threaten to sue the SPLC for defamation...

Update: Links to the SPLC's definition of each category added.


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Comments (18)

Good job, except for that o... (Below threshold)

Good job, except for that one missing '' tag somewhere in there.

Not sure what constitutes a... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Not sure what constitutes a "Christian Identity" group. Baptists?

The question concerning the Civil War is not whether the South is "better off" but whether the country is better off for having the Civil War. I say "hell no" on both counts. Lincoln crushed the very idea of state sovereignty resulting in a straight line regression to the current reality of iron-fisted federalism. Lincoln is the original statist despot and Obama is his ideological successor.

Why could the U.S. not have ended slavery peacefully through compensated emancipation as other countries did? Of course we could have, were it not for the likes of Lincoln ravaging the nation "for our own good."

I'm surprised "Big Oil" isn... (Below threshold)

I'm surprised "Big Oil" isn't listed as they are H8ers of the entire planet with their pollution of the environment. Now that I think about it, they need a category for the "Free Enterprise System" as any for-profit business operation clearly H8s people in general by denying living wage, horrible working conditions, etc....

They left out elitist pr... (Below threshold)
jim m:

They left out elitist progressives, who hate everyone who does not share their political ideology and desire to forcibly "re-educate" those who would disagree with them openly.

I would like more informati... (Below threshold)
George True:

I would like more information on just what constitutes a "Christian identity" group or a "radical traditional Catholic" group. I have never heard of either one. Are they saying that fundamentalist Christians or even merely devout Christians constitute hate groups? Or are they referring specifically to groups such as the small congregation in Kansas who picket funerals of service members? Or the renegade LDS sect headed by the now-imprisoned Warren Jeffs?

As far as a Catholic "hate" group, I am flummoxed. I never heard of any such thing. The only "Catholic" group I ever heard of espousing hatred and violence was the IRA in Northern Ireland.

Unfortunately, most of what gets categorized as "hate" these days by groups such as the SPLC is nothing more than passionate disagreement with various aspects of the leftist agenda. For example, the majority of people in most states strongly disagree with the idea that gay marriage is acceptable and appropriate. The leftist talking point would be that these people (who are the majority) are espousing "hate". Any group that attempts grass-roots action to keep marriage as it is now is then branded as a "hate group". It is not actually true, but if it serves the narrative of the left, that's good enough. The morality of engaging in and fostering actual hatred by branding others as "haters" for daring to voice a strongly-held difference of opinion is never questioned by the left, or by the media.

Not long ago in California, Proposition 8 was passed, and the pro-gay groups organized a campaign of actual hatred, intimidation, firings, and threats of violence against prominent people who voted for Prop 8. Why were these groups not labeled as hate groups? Again, it depends on what side if an issue you're on. If you are on the non-leftist side of an issue, you are hateful and/or racist. If pro-leftist, why you are just a "patriotic" American engaging in the highest form of patriotism.

"Why could the U.S. not hav... (Below threshold)

"Why could the U.S. not have ended slavery peacefully through compensated emancipation as other countries did?"

I think it had to do with a little incident in Charleston harbor. Something about firing on a federal fort. I think it's called an act of war.

As for the SPLC's definition, guess I'm part of a 'hate group' since I don't support NAMBLA, and "malign" it ever chance I get.

Hate is absolutely not a so... (Below threshold)

Hate is absolutely not a social problem, but strictly a personal one. For example the only person I hate are those who purport to tell me what I should believe. Hate is thought, and as thoughts are merely unarticulated words, they protected by our Constitution.

No thougbts are not a problem. Actions are the problem. For example with Catholic wish to believe that only Catholics in good standing will ascend to Heaven, such is their belief.

On the other hand if Islamics terrorists murder my fellow citizens to grain access to their celetrial virgns, their actions cause a problem for me.

Thoughts do not cause problems and your thoughts are none of my business

"Finally, I have to wond... (Below threshold)
the Dane of your existence:

"Finally, I have to wonder what would happen if one of these groups were to threaten to sue the SPLC for defamation... "

What an interesting suggestion! I'm sure the hate groups appreciate the free legal advice, Jay!

Why don't you just bring it up at your next meeting at see what the members think?

GarandFan,There ar... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:


There are "reasons" and there are "excuses." Your citation falls within the realm of the latter: a carefully contrived provocation with the end of inducing said war.

Nice run-down, but you omit... (Below threshold)

Nice run-down, but you omitted my favorite category: "General Hate." It's a handy catch-all the SPLC uses when they can't smear a group by association any other way.

The SPLC is also highly selective in its indignation, especially when it comes to anti-gay "groups."

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has had a ban on hiring gays as scoutmasters for years. They spelled it out on their web site and even took their case to the Supreme Court, (and won!)

"The BSA reaffirmed its view that an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the traditional moral values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that these values cannot be subject to local option choices."


Whatever one thinks about gays in the Scouts, the BSA's official policy seems to hit every key point of the SPLC's "hate group" definition, AND, the BSA receives public money.

Speaking of money, the BSA actually has some cash on hand, as opposed to the gap-toothed wannabees the SPLC traditionally goes after.

One would think going after such a blatantly discriminatory group, one that has millions of dollars on hand AND shapes the minds of millions of American boys, would be every SPLC-ers ultimate dream.

So what does "America's leading civil rights group" have to say about the "haters" at the BSA? Nothing.

Many of the SPLC's mostly elderly donors were once Scouts, as were their kids and grandkids, and calling their beloved BSA a "hate group" would have a deleterious affect on donations.

"Fighting Hate" is all well and good, until it cuts into the bottom line.

(Note: I'm no lawyer.) ... (Below threshold)

(Note: I'm no lawyer.)

Dane, in defamation cases, truth is an absolute defense. Were I to call you the pus-laden child of a syphilitic whore, then I would have to demonstrate that I knew that you were, indeed, laden with pus and your mother suffered from syphilis.

On the other hand, if I were to call you an insufferable asshole with delusions of adequacy, that is clearly opinion.

The SPLC has given a vague definition of "hate group," and it is clearly a defamatory label. Were a group to challenge their categorizing, the SPLC would have to demonstrate that the group clearly fell into the definition.

In most cases, it's pretty clear they're right. And I said so. But they've gone really broad-brush, and lumped in quite a few groups that don't belong there. It's unfair, it's wrong, and it needs to be challenged.

Besides, the fact that you're so knee-jerk to defend them is another good reason to keep piling on.


ELF and ALF wouldn't they f... (Below threshold)

ELF and ALF wouldn't they fall under the hate group catagory, they hate everyone. How about Al Gore and his followers they actually caused violence to occur just recently, they just don't have a name so let's give them one, aholes that do Al Gore's bidding.

A couple more groups that g... (Below threshold)

A couple more groups that got left off the list, Code Pink, PETA don't they also hate? Don't forget the westboro numb nuts.

AHOLEs - Al's Horrific, Ove... (Below threshold)

AHOLEs - Al's Horrific, Over Lords of the Enviornment.

Yeah, going with the neo-co... (Below threshold)

Yeah, going with the neo-confederate thing, one of the most common listed hate groups that I've seen on SPLC is the League of the South. Now, these guys are nutty, but I can't find what makes them a hate group. They've done basically what Jay says: they've romanticized the old South, picking and choosing the parts they like, and ignoring those they don't. In fact, when they attack Lincoln, they compare him to Hitler by citing Lincoln's belief in white superiority over blacks. Furthermore, the explicitly say racial equality is mandated by Christian teachings.

So, nutty, but I can't find the hate there. Anyone know any more about these guys?

It's actually too bad there... (Below threshold)

It's actually too bad there's only one of Dane -- if only there were one more we could get SPLC to declare him a hate group.

As it is, he fails on the definition of "group."

Re, #2: "Not sure what cons... (Below threshold)
Sean P:

Re, #2: "Not sure what constitutes a "Christian Identity" group. Baptists?"

Jeff, Christian Identity isn't a general reference to Christians. The Christian Identify movement is a specific sect that claims that, as a historical matter, the "aryans" who currently live in the US, and of which the Christian Identify adherents are members, are the true Jews of the bible, not the "mud people" who claim to be so today.

No, seriously. That is what they really believe.

No, I am not joking. You can look it up yourself (though I wouldn't recommend you do so at work).

I love the inclusion of ant... (Below threshold)

I love the inclusion of anti-immigration on there. It gives us the chance to re-take the dialogue.

I am not anti-immigrant at all. Why not? Foreign nationals who are residing and working in America illegally ARE NOT immigrants. Immigrants are people who come in through the front gate after standing in line, who pay their taxes and teach their children English, no matter what other languages they also speak.






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