Restricting Free Speech or Promoting Hate?

Becky Garrison:  Even though the Family Research Council was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 2010, their spokesperson, Tony Perkins, continues to grace cable network news programs like MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews.” In light of the fact that Perkins has been a guest on the station 23 times since the SPLC issued their findings, Faithful America designed a TV ad they hoped to run on MSNBC calling the network to cease booking Tony Perkins. As reported by The Advocate, MSNBC chose not to run the ad. According to an MSNBC spokesman, “We have many guests from a variety of viewpoints who all play roles in the political process. The views of our guests are not those of MSNBC.”

In 2010, Faithful America launched a similar campaign to get Glenn Beck off the airwaves. Other campaigns include petitions to force the resignation of Mike O’Neal, the Republican Speaker of the Kansas State House, after he prayed for President Obama’s death; tell e-Harmony to stop sponsoring Rush Limbaugh, and to call on the Board of Directors at Samaritan’s Purse to fire Franklin Graham for lying about President Obama’s faith. So far, these strategies appear to function more as a means of raising Faithful America’s public profile than advocating on behalf of their stated mission, listed on their website as, “End Poverty. Restore Community. Uphold the Common Good.”

In lieu of calling for an outright ban on pro-family/anti-LGBT pundits, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has taken a different tactic.  The group recently launched the Commentator Accountability Project. GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick explains the rationale behind this project. “In most cases, news outlets invite reputable experts to speak on the subject at hand, but when talking about LGBT issues, open hostility and anti-LGBT bias seems to be all the credibility required. This project holds these so-called ‘pundits’ accountable for the extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric they continue to spread.”

National Organization for Marriage (NOM) became the first organization to be added to this list following the release of documents by Human Rights Campaign that document how NOM engaged in racially divisive tactics. Also, five individuals associated with NOM (Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, Christopher Plante, Jennifer Roback Morse, Robert George) are among the anti-LGBT activists listed.

New American Magazine summarizes the response by conservative Christians named in this project. Catholic Online took this critique a bit further by renaming this venture GLAAD’s “Ministry of Propaganda.”

In a similar story, some of the critique over the KONY 2012 video centered around the Invisible Children’s donations from the Family Research Council and other groups with known connection to the anti-gay legislation in Uganda. Can one advocate on behalf of child soldiers while also partnering with those who support legislation that would make “homosexuality” a crime punishable by death?

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