Jeremy Hooper at Good As You has one helluva scoop about an initiative several religious right orgs are launching to combat the Southern Poverty Law Center's designation of some of the most virulently anti-gay outfits as hate groups. Jeremy has printed an unreleased document showing the orgs' plans to launch a new site and promotional campaign aimed at portraying SPLC as part of "the radical Left" and themselves as the victims of "slanderous tactics."
The sheer amount of cognitive dissonance in the release is stunning and hardly accidental. Especially on display is the Belief Disconfirmation Paradigm which can be summed up succinctly as:
Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in misperception or rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others to restore consonance.
Check out how the Family Research Council tries to spin the designation by preying on their followers with the most extensively studied theory in social psychology after the jump. The sheer chutzpah is astounding.
Notice the first paragraph of this joint release sets the tone for the entire document. I've taken a screenshot of the first few paragraphs, but you can hit up Good As You for the full document. (You can clickety to embiggen this screenshot.)
The First Paragraph
Let's start at the beginning. The first sentence starts off strong.
The surest sign one is losing a debate is to resort to character assassination.
Surely we can all agree on that point. We're off to a roaring start and we're even agreeing. Soon we'll all be holding hands and singing "This Little Light of Mine," right? Hardly. The release goes south as it heads into the second sentence (emphasis mine).
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal fundraising machine whose tactics have been condemned by observers across the political spectrum, is doing just that.
Apparently, these paragons of civil virtue have no problem using the very technique they are decrying. If the "surest sign" you're losing is to engage in "character assassination," they have just proven their own point by immediately resorting to smearing the SPLC just six words later in the same paragraph.
The Second Paragraph
In the second paragraph we head right into cognitive dissonance territory. The groups simply can't justify their beliefs (that they are correct and innocent) with the facts (they've been labeled a hate group by a recognized authority).
The group, which was once known for combatting racial bigotry, is not attacking several groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
What's wrong with this sentence? After all, the SPLC has labeled these orgs as hate groups and they do believe that marriage is solely the union of a man and a woman and SPLC is known for combatting extreme bigotry. These are the facts - and the orgs acknowledge them as such.
But did you catch how they started to spin the truth into something that's more palatable for their members and target audience? Did you see how cognitive dissonance has started to creep in? They can't recognize that the facts logically lead to their designation as a hate group by the authority so they misinterpret the facts and attempt to gain support from other people who share their beliefs.
In reality, while the SPLC did condemn "several groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views," they didn't list them as hate groups just for those beliefs. Believing that marriage is the sole domain of opposite sex couples didn't earn them the designation either - it's just an attempt to find common ground with supporters. Instead, they were listed for specific examples of extreme bigotry and prejudice meant to incite hatred and/or violence from their supporters.
If opposing same-sex marriage were enough to list a group or organization as a hate group, Congress would long ago have earned the distinction. It obviously hasn't - but Congress hasn't said that gays should be deported, decided gay sex is domestic terrorism or queer people shouldn't be allowed to hold public office. Instead, the groups SPLC designated as hate groups have advocated those positions - and more.
The groups are trying to convince their followers to continue their support by twisting the facts in an attempt to ease the dissonance. They are seeking validation for their actions - which have been shown to be incorrect/morally repugnant based on the facts.
The Third Paragraph
The third paragraph calls for the impossible as a rational plan.
How does the SPLC attack? By labeling it's opponents "hate groups." No discussion. No consideration of the issues. No engagement. No debate!
Yes, according to the Family Research Council, the Southern Poverty Law Center is attacking them by stating the facts; the FRC and other far right religious organizations have engaged in a campaign meant to deliberately stir prejudice and hate against LGBT people. They call for a debate "of the issues" as an appeal to their followers that their position is a moderate one other reasonable and practical folk would agree with. "If the SPLC would only discuss same-sex marriage or LGBT politicians or whether or not gay people should be deported with the hate groups, the SPLC could be persuaded as to the error of their ways," goes the thinking.
When was the last time that the SPLC met with the Ku Klux Klan to discuss whether or not it is repugnant to discriminate against racial minorities? Could the Aryan Nation build a case that reasonable people should be able to debate whether or not some races are inferior to others? Of course not. There simply isn't a "debate" to be had.
As former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan so famously said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." The facts here say that some religious right organizations have crossed the line from public policy advocacy on behalf of Judeo-Christian beliefs into knowingly disseminating false information about queer people in an attempt to stir violence and prejudice against them.
A Wretched Quandary
This call for a debate or discussion is meaningless. It's a desperate grasp for relevancy hidden behind a not-so-subtle public relations campaign meant to prey upon the general public's rapidly spreading realization that queer people are often vilified and scapegoated without cause.
This too slow epiphany has the religious right's supporters in a moral quandary as thick as if they've been suspended in amber. The only thing left for hate groups like the Family Research Council to do is to gnaw at the sheeple's moral dissonance in a wretched bid to continue their influence and relevancy.
These groups have been exposed. They have been named. Their influence is quickly waning.
No public relations campaign will solve their problem that the truth truly will set you free. You can't debate the facts.
And the fact is that the Family Research Council is a hate group.