'Death threats' result from leftist 'hate' labels

Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit that advocates for civil and religious rights, is charging in a lawsuit that GuideStar’s use of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate” labels has resulted in death threats and other harm.

GuideStar, which publishes online reports about nonprofits, had added to its reports a “hate” label issued by the far-left SPLC. Liberty Counsel, which was targeted in the attack, sued.

GuideStar wants the lawsuit dismissed, but Liberty Counsel, in a court filing, argues the issue of damages from the “hate” label has not been resolved.

“As a result of the false and defamatory ‘hate group’ designation, Liberty Counsel staff have received death threats, and Liberty Counsel has been forced to incur significant expense to enhance and increase its security,” the group said in the new court filing.

“Liberty Counsel has been forced to provide additional security because of the significant threat that GuideStar’s false and defamatory statement has caused. Violent extremists have relied on the false and defamatory statement to commit acts of terrorism and violence against innocent people who merely happen to hold a different viewpoint on certain issues than GuideStar,” Liberty Counsel said.

Its arguments came in a brief opposing GuideStar’s request that the case be dismissed.

Liberty Counsel pointed out that SPLC “hate” designations already have been linked to two attempted mass murders: the attack by Floyd Corkins on the Washington office of Family Research Council and the shooting attack this summer near the capital that severely injured Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.

Liberty Counsel explained: “It is clear this case should continue. GuideStar intended to damage Liberty Counsel’s reputation in the mind of the public and especially current and potential donors. This politically motivated label has exposed Liberty Counsel to potential violence and even death threats, causing additional expense increasing security to protect its staff from an attack similar to the one against the Family Research Council in 2012.”

In its announcement about the filing, Liberty Counsel pointed out that the precedent for continuing such a case is that “even if proof is ‘improbable’ and ‘recovery is very remote’ that a ‘well pled complaint may proceed.'”

After GuideStar labeled about four dozen mostly Christian and conservative organizations with the SPLC’s “hate” labels, a portion of the groups wrote a letter, and GuideStar pulled the labels from its website. But GuideStar said it still would provide that information if asked.

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, asked: “If GuideStar has nothing to hide, why is the organization so desperately fighting the discovery phase of our lawsuit?”

He said GuideStar and its CEO Jacob Harold “presented the ‘hate group’ label as ‘fact’ in an attempt to harm Liberty Counsel.”

“This ‘hate group’ label is false, defamatory, and dangerous,” he said. “There are unstable people who have listened to this reckless rhetoric and used it to justify physical harm and even attempted murder because of these false, politically motivated labels. GuideStar is playing with fire, and other innocent lives will be hurt by its reckless allegations. Liberty Counsel is not a ‘hate group’ and opposes violence.”

Liberty Counsel explained what SPLC senior fellow Mark Potock previously said about his group’s labels.

“Our criteria for a ‘hate group,’ first of all, have nothing to do with criminality or violence or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological,” Potock said.

He continued: “Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”

SPLC’s rhetoric has gotten it into trouble before.

Liberty Counsel noted that in 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Disciplinary Counsel for the Executive Office for Immigration Review “sharply rebuked and reprimanded attorneys representing the SPLC and its allies for employing the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ label to denigrate a conservative advocacy group.”

“It concluded that employing the label against groups with which it disagrees ‘overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional.’ It continued that such behavior is ‘uncivil’ and ‘constitutes frivolous behavior and does not aid the administration of justice,'” Liberty Counsel said.

Staver said GuideStar and its political ally, SPLC, are intent on destroying pro-family organizations.

“The ‘hate group’ label is false and dangerous,” said Staver.

The Liberty Counsel brief said GuideStar’s CEO, Jacob Harold, is “using GuideStar as a weapon to defame, harm, and promote his liberal agenda by using the SPLC to falsely label good nonprofit organizations as ‘hate groups.'”

“The only purpose of providing the SPLC false and dangerous ‘hate group’ label is to inflict reputational and financial harm to Liberty Counsel. GuideStar has lost all credibility. GuideStar will now have to answer for its reckless, defamatory, and harmful political labeling.”

The Liberty Counsel brief said: “The threat of violence, however, is not the only injury. As a nonprofit entity, Liberty Counsel relies on its good reputation to attract and receive charitable donations from individuals, groups, churches, organizations, foundations, and others … Liberty Counsel’s reputation is important to its mission and to its donors or prospective donors, and its long-standing relationships with its donors is made possible by its good name and reputation.

“As a result of GuideStar’s false, misleading, and defamatory statements, Liberty Counsel has suffered actual damage to its reputation and goodwill in the community of nonprofits.

“Neither do standard court procedures allow the dismissal at this point, the filing explains: “A district court cannot dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) ‘unless after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff’s favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.'”

WND reported last month when SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen, defended his group’s attacks on Christians.

He wrote in a Huffington Post commentary that Christians deserve the designation because they “sow the seeds of hate” for, among other things, adhering to a biblical perspective on homosexuality.

The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability warned GuideStar its use of false SPLC claims to undermine Christian organizations was damaging its credibility.

SPLC sits in judgment of Christians and others, labeling as “haters” those who disagree with its pro-homosexual and open-borders agendas. In fact, SPLC put Dr. Ben Carson in that category before facing a backlash and abruptly backtracking.

Paul Bedard documented in his Washington Secrets column that some of the groups targeted by SPLC now are unleashing a public counteroffensive, accusing the organization of “fueling hate, killing free speech and even encouraging terrorist-style attacks on those it doesn’t agree with.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom demanded an apology from ABC News for quoting SPLC in a slam of ADF.

Bedard explained the new effort led by the Family Research Council targets of SPLC includes a video and a tweet-storm that took aim at SPLC’s so-called “hate map,” which identifies groups it says promotes hate and extremism.

SPLC lumps together groups such as the Ku Klux Klan with conservative nonprofits that promote traditional marriage, enforcement of immigration laws and other policies to which it objects.

SPLC was linked to the attempted mass murder in 2012 at FRC’s Washington, D.C., office. Floyd Corkins II confessed to the FBI he was motivated by the so-called “Hate Map” on the SPLC website that listed FRC as a “hate group.”

WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson.

FRC repeatedly has explained it adheres to a biblical perspective on homosexuality but is not “anti-gay.”

SPLC also was linked to the June attack on congressional Republicans at a baseball practice before a charity game. SPLC admitted the shooter, James Hodgkinson, “liked” SPLC on Facebook, Liberty Counsel said.

SPLC previously contended Scalise “promoted white supremacy and supported a ‘hate group,'” Liberty Counsel noted.

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