The FBI has removed the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hatewatch" from its list of resources on hate crimes after Family Research Council requested that it do so.
"We commend the FBI for removing website links to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that not only dispenses erroneous data but has been linked to domestic terrorism in federal court. We hope this means the FBI leadership will avoid any kind of partnership with the SPLC," Tony Perkins, president of FRC, told Paul Bedard of Washington Examiner.
FRC and other social conservative groups sent a letter, dated Feb. 10, to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey, arguing that "SPLC is a heavily politicized organization producing biased and inaccurate data on 'hate groups' – not hate crimes."
FRC is one of several groups opposed to government recognition of same-sex marriage listed as a hate group on SPLC's list.
"We may disagree on how marriage should be defined, but there must be some recognition that reasonable people can approach this subject thoughtfully and passionately and come to different conclusions," the letter continued.
While FRC does not advocate violence, SPLC argues that FRC's criticisms of the gay rights movement could inspire some to use violence. While SPLC provides no examples of FRC-inspired violence, SPLC's "Hatewatch" was once the inspiration for violence against FRC.
In August 2012, FRC's building manager, Leo Johnson, subdued Floyd Corkins and wrestled a gun from his hands. Johnson was shot during the struggle and survived. Corkins intended to kill everyone in the building after finding FRC on SPLC's "hate map."
The letter notes that Corkins pled guilty to three charges, including domestic terrorism.
"Thus, the FBI now direct the public to trust a group whose website played a significant part in bringing about an act of domestic terrorism," the letter stated.
Earlier this month, Academic Questions, a peer-reviewed academic journal, published an analysis of SPLC's "Hatewatch" by George Yancey, professor of sociology at the University of North Texas. Yancey argued that SPLC does not use objective standards to compile the list and conjectured that the list is more about mobilizing the group's fellow liberals.
"As our society became more politically partisan, SPLC cemented its position as speaking for those with progressive political and social attitudes. Rather than developing into an objective clearinghouse for the identification of hatred - no matter where the source of that hatred may develop - SPLC has become a useful organization for progressives to legitimate their battle against conservatives," he wrote.
Yancey has no affiliation with FRC and his analysis of SPLC was in service of a larger point about bias in academia. Academics have failed to correctly understand SPLC, he argued, because they largely agree with SPLC's ideology. The Christian Post and other media outlets reported on Yancey's study earlier this month.
The FBI also eliminated the Anti-Defamation League from its list of hate crime resources but has offered no comment or explanation for the removals.