A legal expert contends organizations and businesses need to turn away from relying on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of "hate groups."
A recent incident involved using the SPLC's categorization of hate groups to target Liberty Counsel. Founder Mat Staver tells OneNewsNow that Norton Security Software blocked access to Liberty Counsel's website, describing it as a hate group. Norton Security Software is owned by Symantec, which also owns LifeLock.
"No doubt [they're] getting this information from the Southern Poverty Law Center or possibly even GuideStar, which got it from the SPLC," Staver says. "We sent a demand letter that they unblock the site because it's not a hate site, and doesn't have hate speech or any kind of issues relating to hate."
Liberty Counsel is a Christian legal group that fights for religious freedom and defends constitutional rights.
Symantec responded to the letter by temporarily lifting the block while reviewing the situation; and later restored access to the website after concluding that the SPLC is off base and that Liberty Counsel is not a hate group. Staver says he could have told them that up front.
"But unfortunately what happens is the SPLC's false and defamatory and dangerous labels of 'hate' or 'hate group' are relied upon without critical investigation by people and organizations, and they just parrot the same thing," he says. "That's what this organization did."
Staver says his firm "is not going to tolerate it anymore."
The SPLC also lists several other conservative and faith-based organizations as hate groups – among them the American Family Association, Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, Alliance Defending Freedom, ACT for America, The Heritage Foundation, and Judicial Watch.