Founder D.A. King of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society does not like that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled his organization a "hate group." The Society, he says, fights against illegal immigration, but it is not anti-immigration. In fact, some legal immigrants are on the organization's board, and Mr. King's adopted sister is an immigrant.
So considering the SPLC's label to be defamatory, he has gone to federal court in Alabama, where the Montgomery-based SPLC sought to have the case tossed.
U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins, however, denied that motion, writing, "Plaintiffs have 'nudged' their defamation claims … across the line from conceivable to plausible." He said that King should have the opportunity to make his case and go through the discovery process to obtain more evidence against the SPLC.
Ed Vitagliano is executive vice president of American Family Association (AFA), a Mississippi-based ministry that has likewise been labeled a hate group by the SPLC. He says the SPLC used to fight racism but now makes money off of its "Hate Map" of organizations with, in the SPLC's words, "beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."
"Many of the groups like American Family Association who are on the SPLC's hate list have declared that they aren't hateful simply because, for example, we believe marriage is between a man and a woman," Vitagliano explains. "American Family Association hopes this lawsuit will open the floodgates and that the SPLC will have to back off its political work and deal in truth for a change."
According to The Washington Times, "The SPLC holds itself out as the ultimate arbiter of domestic hate groups, and those on the political left widely cite its list as evidence that some groups deserve to be silenced."
In recent days, the FBI has cited the SPLC's work in its decisions about whom to target — including those who ascribe to "radical traditionalist Catholic ideology."
This is the first defamation lawsuit specifically challenging the SPLC's "hate group" accusation to make it to discovery.
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net