The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has had a rough couple of weeks. After firing its co-founder Morris Dees, disturbing information about the internal culture of the organization came to light.
On top of that, the SPLC hate-group list – its long-time flagship fundraising tool – has been exposed by former employees as a con. Or, as a Current Affairs writer put it: “a willful deception designed to scare older liberals into writing checks to the SPLC.”
And now, it looks like the SPLC may be losing its influence over big tech companies.
For years, the SPLC has used the “hate group” designation to silence groups it disagrees with – lumping mainstream conservative and Christian organizations in with truly despicable groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. And unfortunately, many tech companies deferred to this dishonest label. Just last year, Amazon booted Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from its AmazonSmile program simply because the SPLC falsely labeled ADF a “hate group.”
But times are changing. On March 27, Facebook announced its new “Standing Against Hate” policy for monitoring hateful speech on the social media platform. But Facebook does not exclusively rely on the SPLC’s “hate group” list.
A representative for Facebook, Ruchika Budhraja, told PJ Media: "We don’t rely on any one outside group in the development of its policies [sic]. For each of the content policy decisions we make, we engage with dozens of outside groups from across the political spectrum."
This is great to hear. It’s high time that tech companies make room for a full range of voices, including ADF.
While once a respected organization, the SPLC has developed into a propaganda machine dedicated to crushing views it dislikes. It does this by labeling anything it disagrees with as “hate”—even if those beliefs are widely held and constitutionally protected, such as beliefs about marriage.
No one should try to shut out people from the public square simply because they disagree with their beliefs.
And Facebook agrees. Budhraja also had this to say about ADF on its platform:
Alliance for Defending Freedom [sic] isn’t a hate group under our policies. Belief in the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman wouldn’t, in and of itself, go against our policies—people’s positions on ideas, institutions, concepts aren’t something we restrict; it’s when those positions amount to attacks on people, that our policies kick in.
In this case, Facebook gets it right. In America, the way we settle our differences is not by shutting out all other points of view but by an honest and respectful dialogue.