David Sessions writes a balanced piece on Family Research Council’s claim that Southern Poverty Law Center’s labeling of FRC as a “hate group” incited the August 15 shooting at FRC headquarters:
It seems like common sense that a lobbying group with offices in Washington is in a different category than racist groups like the Aryan Nations, which federal law-enforcement officials consider a domestic terrorist network. Though all hate groups are not equal, it remains difficult to draw a clear line where propaganda that demonizes an entire class of people—gays, African Americans, Jews, Muslims, immigrants—becomes hate.
I don’t know enough about Family Research Council to tell whether they have deliberately obfuscated facts or used pseudoscience to promote their agenda, but their methods probably deserve some criticism. No one deserves violent retaliation, though—which is why the “hate” label needs to go.
It seems outrageous to blame SPLC for the shooting; FRC is just engaging in opportunistic PR. But there’s a larger point to be made on the back of this controversy: we don’t need terms like “hate speech” or “hate crime”. Crime is crime, whether motivated by hate or not. Speech is either legal or not legal (in this country, usually legal), and you either agree or disagree with it. I can’t think of a single benefit we have derived from proliferation of the word “hate.”