A federal judge’s ruling that a defamation suit against the Southern Poverty Law Center can continue sheds much interesting light on the workings of the professional “anti-hate” organization. D.A. King, founder of the Dustin Inman Society, sued the SPLC after being designated as the head of an “anti-immigrant hate group.”
Defamation suits are exceedingly difficult to win in the United States. Plaintiffs must not only prove that claims made against them are false but also that they were deliberately crafted with malicious intent.
“Plaintiffs have ‘nudged’ their defamation claims… ‘across the line from conceivable to plausible,’” US District Judge W. Keith Watkins ruled April 24 in refusing to grant SPLC’s petition to dismiss the suit.
Player and Referee
The Dustin Inman Society has advocated against illegal immigration in Georgia since 2005. King notes that the organization has no problem with legal immigration and even has immigrants on its Board of Advisors. King’s adopted sister is an immigrant.
He points out that the SPLC for years refrained from placing DIS on its infamous list of “hate groups.” “[King’s] tactics have generally not been to get up in the face of actual immigrants and threaten them,” the Center’s Heidi Beirich told the Associated Press in 2011. “Because he is fighting, working on his legislation through the political process, that is not something we can quibble with, whether we like the law or not.”
But something changed in 2018. King thinks he knows what it was.
“Curious observers may want to check on the timing of the inclusion of the Dustin Inman Society on the 2018 SPLC ‘hate map’ and the SPLC registration to lobby against pro-enforcement legislation that we helped with and supported Georgia – we did,” he writes on the group’s website.
Watkins referenced this in his ruling.
“SPLC’s classification of DIS as an ‘anti-immigrant hate group’ occurred within a month of SPLC’s registering lobbyists to advocate ‘against a pro-enforcement bill pending in the Georgia General Assembly,’ an immigration bill supported by Mr. King, on behalf of DIS. Plaintiffs contend that SPLC’s repeated designations of DIS as a ‘hate group’ is part of SPLC’s ‘legislative lobbying strategy.’”
This allegation lies at the heart of SPLC’s public posturing. The Center loves to position itself as a credentialed authority on “extremist groups” operating in a dispassionate professional manner. At the same time, it registers as a lobbyist organization opposing illegal immigration enforcement legislation. So much for any claims to impartiality.
SPLC Can’t Have It Both Ways
This dual nature appears to have finally caught up with SPLC. It tried to get King’s lawsuit dismissed in part by declaring that its hate group lists are protected political speech. Judge Watkins honed in on this vitally important point that may eventually have dire ramifications for the entire progressive ruling establishment’s expertist propaganda branch of operations:
“Examining the circumstances, as set out in the Complaint and exhibits, the court concludes that a reasonable person could have believed that SPLC’s designation of DIS as an ‘anti-immigrant hate group’ was factual and not a mere expression of rhetorical hyperbole. This determination is based on the following observations. First, SPLC does not advertise itself as a political pundit. To the contrary, SPLC self-proclaims that it ‘is the premier U.S. non-profit organization monitoring the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists’ and that it possesses ‘key intelligence,’ ‘offer[s] expert analysis to the media and public,’ ‘publish[es] investigate reports,’ and ‘train[s] law enforcement officers.’…
The allegations about SPLC’s portrayal of its elite status in tracking and investigating hate groups and its specialized knowledge make it plausible that a reasonable reader would discern that, when SPLC designates a group an ‘anti-immigrant hate group,’ the designation is factually based after extensive investigation.”
For years, Americans have been bombarded by flagrantly partisan establishment organizations dressing up their attacks on political opponents as professionally accredited impartial truth. A sympathetic big-box media and leading elected officials have helped cultivate the deceit. Nowhere has this threadbare tactic been more pronounced than in the attempts to label any opinion that goes against the dominant narrative as “dis” or “misinformation.”
Yet by making their loaded assertions under the guise of “factually based” authority figures, these actors should be made to prove and defend the accuracy of their pronouncements in a way that a political commentator would not. In short, there is a difference between mere opinion and certified professional conclusion. Judge Watkins in his ruling acknowledges this, and that is big.
Tyler O’Neil, author of a book on the Southern Poverty Law Center titled Making Hate Pay, told The Washington Times that he believes Watkins’ ruling is monumental. “This is the very first defamation lawsuit specifically challenging the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ accusation to make it to discovery,” O’Neil said. “Conservatives who have faced routine defamation may finally get some justice, and the American people may finally see behind the curtain how the SPLC runs its ‘hate group’ scam.”
From such beginnings, perhaps, the entire unraveling of the tiresome faux expertist scaffolding constructed by an intellectually lazy political oligarchy in this country may follow. One can only hope.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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