Two Washington Post columnists yesterday weighed in on the shooting of a guard at the Family Research Council's D.C. office on Wednesday. Both argued that the Southern Poverty Law Center's classification of FRC as a hate group was unfair and contributed to the violence earlier this week.
"Human Rights Campaign isn’t responsible for the shooting," wrote Dana Milbank. "Neither should the organization that deemed the FRC a 'hate group,' the Southern Poverty Law Center, be blamed for a madman’s act. But both are reckless in labeling as a 'hate group' a policy shop that advocates for a full range of conservative Christian positions, on issues from stem cells to euthanasia."
Milbank continues, "it's absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church."
But as Zack Ford at ThinkProgress LGBT points out, "The violent history of the KKK and Aryan Nations are obviously quite different from that of anti-gay groups, though it's worth noting that Tony Perkins has happily spoken in front of white supremacy groups and even once rented a KKK Grand Wizard's phone bank."
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin takes the victimization one step further, stopping just short of blaming groups like SPLC for the violence.
"I do, however, object strenuously to the blatant double-standard in blame-assignment and the assumption that Christians can only be the perpetrators of hate crimes, never the victims," writes Rubin. "Anti-Christian bias in the media is still acceptable in a way that antigay bias is not."
Of course, Rubin ignores the fact that sexual orientation, unlike religious affiliation, is unchangeable. While immutable characteristics and religious liberty are both protected by the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment doesn't protect incitement to violence anywhere along the political spectrum. Which is why the shooting at FRC has been roundly condemned by LGBT organizations and right-wing groups alike.
Rubin spends the bulk of her column speculating on the potential media coverage if the roles were reversed. She argues that if a Christian opened fire at an LGBT center, the story would be splashed across every newspaper's front page. On the other hand, some would argue that the decreasing media coverage of the event is primarily a result of the constant news cycle and the fact that no one was killed in the attack.