The definition of a “hate group” is putting those on the political right at odds with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which says that its count of the groups in the U.S. has topped 1,000 for the first time. Some say the civil rights group’s broad definition of hate vilifies innocent people and stifles vigorous debate about critical issues, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
Tension erupted between the SPLC and some Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota (who tops the SPLC’s “militia enablers list”), who protested the SPLC's listing of the conservative Family Research Council as a hate group. The SPLC said the Family Research Council is knowingly pushing falsehoods about gay people. The Montgomery, Ala.-based SPLC, is careful to note that organizations on its list don’t necessarily advocate violence. Its definition of a hate group and “ideologues” includes groups and people who suggest that an entire group of human beings are, by virtue of class characteristics, “somewhat less,” says an SPLC official.