Op-Ed by Joe Wright
Only in a world where the novel 1984 has become the evening news can we get a state’s Attorney General working with the Department of Civil Rights to create a database for people committing “hate and bias incidents that don’t rise to the level of a crime or civil infraction.”
This “hate crimes unit” apparently comes on the advice of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which issued a report about a rise of extremism and hatred within the state of Michigan. This itself is more than ironic, since it was reported last year that the organization had to pay $3 million for falsely labeling as an example of “anti-Muslim extremism. ”
Nevertheless, the SPLC still seems to be the go-to group for databasing the speech of the public at large; they’ve previously been linked to Google, currently the largest such de facto database in existence.
Predictably, then, there has been pushback right out of the gate for those who have received the label of hate-monger from the SPLC and, by extension, the government of Michigan. As The Detroit News reports:
Church Militant/St. Michael’s Media in Ferndale is listed by the law center as an “anti-LGBT” hate group. The group’s editor-in-chief, Christine Niles, rejected the label and said, to her knowledge, the group’s presence on the list is a first.
“We’re not entirely sure what that means,” Niles said, noting that the group and its work is faithful to the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage being between a man and a woman. “We have a right to believe that without being called a hate group.”
Church Militant’s “virulently anti-gay” work “demonizes” gay people and qualified it as one of the 1,020 U.S. hate groups identified by the law center in its list published Wednesday, said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which compiles the data behind the list.
Of course, I don’t find the spread of hateful energy at all productive, nor would I find myself as member of this church’s belief system, but I don’t see the mention of an actual crime. That is indeed a problem.
Michigan’s Attorney General also appears to have added the Anti-Defamation League as a consultant, another group of dubious repute that has a penchant for conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, among other tangential relationships between political opinion and violent actions.
Nevertheless, the head of the Department of Civil Rights is confident in these sources, and also cites the motivation behind the concept of cataloging thought crimes:
Arbulu said he hopes to have the database operating within two or three months. He plans to work with other groups in Michigan, such as Equality Michigan and the ADL Michigan, to establish reporting standards and procedures. The department piloted such a plan for a few months after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.
This is yet another example of the government trend toward assigning arbiters of truth, creating lists of violators (often with no means of disputing the allegation – i.e. Activist Post’s label of Russian propaganda that stands to this day from PropOrNot), and preparing to implement further restrictions on the rights supposedly guaranteed under the very First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The best way to truly eradicate hate toward one another is to engage in open discussion, learn where our biases come from, and hopefully find a peaceful way to agree that we can disagree without abdicating our responsibility to compromised third-party sources.
Joe Wright’s articles can be found at Activist Post.
H/T — MassPrivateI