Conservative Reporter Claims SPLC Unjustly Put Her on Hate List: 'Reckless Hate-Labeling Stifles Free Speech'

Campus Reform Program Coordinator Hannah Scherlacher on Fox & Friends to speak about being named in a Southern Poverty Law Center 'Anti-LGBT Roundup' report from August 2017.
Campus Reform Program Coordinator Hannah Scherlacher on Fox & Friends to speak about being named in a Southern Poverty Law Center "Anti-LGBT Roundup" report from August 2017. | (Screenshot: CampusReform)

A reporter with the online publication Campus Reform claims that she was unjustly added to a hate list by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center.

Hannah Scherlacher, program coordinator with the Leadership Institute-organized site, was named in a post on the SPLC website in August listing "activities and events of anti-LGBT organizations and individuals."

In a column published by Fox News last week, Scherlacher called on the SPLC to remove her from the list, denouncing the SPLC's list as "a bullying tactic employed by the left to silence conservative ideas."

The headquarters of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
The headquarters of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center. | (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

"The goal is to paint any opposition to the far left as morally depraved and, therefore, unworthy of being included in conversation," wrote Scherlacher.

"This tactic is more than illogical; it's dangerous. Reckless and irresponsible hate-labeling not only stifles free speech and expression, it empowers and emboldens vicious groups and individuals to violently attack people."

Scherlacher also argued that SPLC's list of hate groups and extremists is hypocritical, as it does not include notorious entities like the radical leftwing group Antifa.

"Groups like the SPLC threaten our constitutional rights and the very fabric that makes this nation great. We need to start pushing back," she continued.

"If this trend of bullying and ostracizing anyone with a different opinion continues, we can only expect a chilling, mob-rule effect and the suppression of speech and ideas in this country."

Founded in 1971 to help with legal battles against groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC has in recent years garnered controversy for its designation of many conservative groups and individuals as hateful.

Critics have accused the SPLC of inciting violence against conservative individuals and organizations, linking them to the 2012 Family Research Council office shooting and the student protests against Charles Murray at Middlebury College earlier this year.

For its part, the SPLC has released statements denouncing the use of violence against conservative groups and politicians.

"We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right," stated SPLC in a statement released after the FRC office shooting.

Right Wing Watch, a project overseen by the liberal group People for the American Way, took issue with Scherlacher's claims, labeling them "laughably untrue."

"Scherlacher's claims are entirely untrue, as she has not been ... placed on the SPLC's list of anti-LGBT hate groups but was merely once mentioned in passing in one of its 'Anti-LGBT Roundup of Events and Activities' posts," noted RWW.

"The SPLC has designated the Family Research Council as an anti-LGBT hate group and as part of its coverage of FRC's work, the SPLC simply noted who had appeared on FRC's radio program in previous weeks."

Many groups have pushed back against the SPLC hate list. 

Joseph Infranco, senior counsel and vice president of the Alliance Coordination Team with Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that the SPLC "mixes the likes of the KKK, 'Racist Skinhead(s),' and 'Neo-Nazi(s)' with groups holding traditional views of human sexuality."

"All this is profoundly ironic. The SPLC uses quotes — warning of attempts to silence dissent — to accuse someone of 'hate' and thereby label them a 'hate group.' Then SPLC uses the hate label to intimidate people into conformity, thereby silencing dissent," he pointed out. ADF has been labeled a hate group.

D. James Kennedy Ministries filed a lawsuit against the SPLC, citing defamation and religious discrimination.

"Those who knowingly label Christian ministries as 'hate' groups, solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith, are either woefully uninformed or willfully deceitful. In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, our lawsuit alleges the latter," said DJK Ministries President Frank Wright.

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