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Over the past two years, The New York Times has relied on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) expertise in tracking extremist organizations to label white supremacist, anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim organization as “hate groups.” But in the same period, the Times only once clearly labeled an anti-LGBT organization as a current “hate group” -- and when it did, it questioned SPLC’s designation and quoted an organization representative explaining why the group shouldn’t be labeled a “hate group.”
The SPLC describes itself as “the premier U.S. non-profit organization monitoring the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists.” The SPLC defines a hate group as a group that has “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
A Media Matters analysis found that over the past two years (June 1, 2014, through June 30, 2016), The New York Times mentioned “hate groups” a total of 35 times, mentioning SPLC’s expertise in tracking “hate groups” in 71 percent of the mentions spanning white nationalist, anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim organizations. For example, in a June 19, 2015, article reporting on controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, the Times included commentary from the president of the League of the South and noted that the SPLC has listed the organization as a hate group:
Supporters of the Confederate battle flag display signaled Friday that their position had not changed. In a commentary on Friday, Michael Hill, the president of the League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as a hate group, said that the Confederate battle flag should remain at the State House but that the American flag should be removed.
In a February 17, 2016, article “Law Center Finds Surge in Extremist Groups in U.S. Last Year,” the Times reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual report on the number of hate groups in the U.S., mentioning that the center tracks hate groups of differing ideologies, including those based on “sexual” characteristics.
But in the past two years, the only instance in which the Times referenced SPLC’s “hate group” label when reporting on an anti-LGBT organization was in an article that questioned the validity of the designation. The article, “Bush Praises World Congress of Families, a Hate Group to Some,” noted that George W. Bush wrote a letter in support of the “conservative group” the World Congress of Families (WCF) that is “classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” The Times went on to report:
But the liberal-leaning [Southern Poverty Law C]enter has been criticized for including groups that fall within the conservative mainstream, like the Family Research Council, based on their stances on gay issues.
The World Congress of Families has strongly disputed the hate-group designation and the implication that it supports violence against the L.G.B.T. community.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, as W.C.F. strongly opposes violence and would never advocate violence or hatred toward any group of people, regardless of differences,” the group wrote in 2014.
In the 34 other instances that the Times reported on hate groups, it never questioned the validity of the “hate group” designation, nor did it allow a hate group to explain why it shouldn’t be labeled as such. Additionally, in the WCF piece the Times falsely wrote that the SPLC designates anti-LGBT organizations as hate groups based on “their stances on gay issues.”
When it first began tracking anti-LGBT hate groups in 2010, the SPLC specifically explained that it lists organizations as hate groups “based on their propagation of known falsehoods” -- things like “asserting that gays and lesbians are more disposed to molesting children than heterosexuals – which the overwhelming weight of credible scientific research has determined is patently untrue.” The SPLC has published extensive research on the extremism of WCF, documenting the organization’s role in exporting homophobia internationally, including passing and lauding laws criminalizing gay people, like Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill.
In terms of providing context, the Times most frequently identified anti-LGBT extremists as “conservative” (30 percent of the time or 18 out of 60 mentions). The Washington Post, on the other hand -- which was also considered in Media Matters’ study -- often didn't provide any context when reporting on major anti-LGBT groups (37 percent of the time or 27 out of 74 mentions). The Post, however, did sometimes use the “hate group” label for anti-LGBT groups; in fact, out of all the paper’s “hate group” references, anti-LGBT groups were the second most common type of organization to earn the label (19 percent).
Media outlets have a long history of failing to identify anti-LGBT extremists as hate groups, instead calling them merely “Christian” or “conservative” organizations. The few recent times when mainstream media like The Associated Press and CBS News’ Bob Schieffer have properly identified hate group leaders, anti-gay conservatives were outraged. But outrage is no reason an outlet that frequently relies on the SPLC’s expertise in tracking extremism should fail to provide meaningful context when reporting on anti-LGBT extremists.
A Media Matters analysis revealed that over the past two years, The New York Times has used the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) designation of “hate group” to clearly designate an anti-LGBT hate group only once. In Times coverage, anti-LGBT hate groups were most likely to be called “conservative” or given no designation at all. But in the same period, the Times cited the SPLC as an expert on tracking hate groups and frequently used the organization’s hate group designation when reporting on white nationalist groups. The Washington Post used the label more, but like the Times, overwhelmingly reserved its use for white nationalists.
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On July 14, media outlets reported that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will likely name Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. Here’s what media need to know about Pence’s right-wing record.
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The president of a designated anti-gay hate group and frequent guest of Fox anchor Megyn Kelly has successfully pushed the Republican Party’s platform committee to add language supporting so-called "conversion" or "reparative therapy,” a harmful and discredited treatment, to the party platform.
On July 11, the Republican Party’s platform committee debated amendments to a proposed party platform ahead of the Republican National Convention. Among language approved by the committee -- which must be given a final stamp of approval by the full Republican National Committee next week -- is language endorsing “conversion therapy.”
Tony Perkins, the president of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, proposed language to the GOP platform supporting “conversion” therapy, which Perkins said includes any "physical” or “emotional" therapy.
Perkins has been a frequent guest on Fox News’ The Kelly File, where anchor Megyn Kelly has described his organization's mission as “advanc[ing] faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian worldview” and having “strong Christian values.” Kelly has also told Perkins he is "the subject of attacks" over his opposition to marriage equality and lamented that it must be “alienating” for him to be criticized for his anti-LGBT beliefs.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the approved platform language “says parents should be allowed ‘to determine the proper treatment or therapy’ for their children”:
And taking a page from the Texas Republican Party's platform, Louisiana delegate Tony Perkins proposed language endorsing so-called "conversion" or "reparative therapy."
The practice, which has been widely criticized by doctors and therapists, seeks to "cure" homosexuals through analysis and, oftentimes, prayer. The new platform language, which the committee approved, does not actually explicitly mention the practice, but says parents should be allowed "to determine the proper treatment or therapy" for their children.
After the meeting, Perkins said the language would extend to any "physical, emotional" therapy.
“Conversion therapy” has been repeatedly denounced by the medical community and experts as physically and emotionally harmful to patients. As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) notes, “A consensus of the vast majority of psychiatrists, psychologists and other counselors and their professional organizations agree that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. Likewise, they condemn reparative therapy and other attempts to change sexual orientation.”
Perkins’ organization, the Family Research Council, has been labeled an anti-gay “hate group” by the SPLC since 2010, and Pekins himself has called pedophilia “a homosexual problem,” claimed that gay men “recruit” children into homosexuality, and endorsed a Ugandan law that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality.
Right-wing news outlet The Federalist seized on the alleged suicide attempt of imprisoned soldier Chelsea Manning to argue that the high rates of attempted suicide in the transgender community are not the result of discrimination, as mainstream medical organizations report. Instead, Federalist author Daniel Payne wrote that “transgenderism is a deleterious psychological affliction” and that a “sane society” should “steer transgender people away from their delusions.”
On July 6, the Associated Press reported that Chelsea Manning -- the soldier and transgender woman imprisoned for sending classified information to WikiLeaks -- was “briefly hospitalized” this week. CNN and TMZ both reported that the hospitalization was the result of a suicide attempt, citing unnamed defense officials.
In a July 7 article responding to these reports, Federalist senior contributor Daniel Payne argued that “the transgender suicide rate isn’t due to discrimination.” Payne dismissed a peer-reviewed article in the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as the consensus of research showing that those who are are harassed, bullied, victimized, discriminated against or rejected by family and friends are more likely to attempt suicide. Instead, Payne falsely maintained that “successful suicide” correlates to “the mental illness, y’all” and pushes for a “sane society” to “steer transgender people away from their delusions”:
Chelsea Manning—who became a male-to-female transgender after going to prison as Bradley Manning for giving reams of classified information to WikiLeaks—allegedly attempted suicide earlier this week. Manning was taken to a prison hospital after an apparent attempted hanging.
This is not a surprise: “transgender” individuals have an alarmingly high suicide rate, somewhere north of 40 percent by some reliable estimates. A variety of explanations are often given for this astronomical figure, chief among them that transgender people are driven to kill themselves in such large numbers because they suffer from discrimination, bigotry and hatred.
Zack Ford of ThinkProgress blames the high suicide rate on “rejection, discrimination, violence, harassment, and the negative life circumstances that result from such treatment.” Last month the New England Journal of Medicine attributed to “substantial discrimination” a great many negative psychological conditions among transgender individuals, including a higher suicide rate.
It’s the Mental Illness, Ya’ll
Why? Because discrimination is almost certainly a nondeterminate factor in general suicide rates. Mental illness, on the other hand, is very clearly a motivating factor in a great many suicides: the rate of successful suicide is extremely correlative with conditions of mental illness. Since transgenderism is a deleterious psychological affliction, it is wholly unsurprising to find higher rates of suicide among that class of people.
A sane society would be advocating for robust, ameliorative psychological therapy to steer transgender people away from their delusions. Instead, we indulge this sickness on an industrial scale, building television shows around the phenomenon and promoting it even unto the point of gross caricature.
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In a post responding to the repeal of the transgender military service ban, National Review’s David French accused the military of “thought control” and lamented the decline of “warrior culture.”
In a June 30 press conference, the Pentagon announced that the Department of Defense is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. The decision comes after a year-long evaluation of “policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.” As a part of the evaluation, the Pentagon commissioned a study by the RAND Corporation which found that allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military would not impact unit cohesion and result in minimal costs.
French quickly fired back with a June 30 post. French’s opposition to this policy change comes as no surprise given his former career at the anti-LGBT extremist legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who are best known for attacking the rights of transgender students and working internationally to criminalize gay sex. French has a history of expressing his outward disdain for transgender people. In the past, he lamented “transgender entitlement” and once described a young transgender woman as a “man” who is “on the verge of mutilating himself.”
Part of French’s argument for opposing the lift of the ban was to accuse the military of trying to create a “social laboratory” that is promoting “radical LGBT theology”:
But this move isn’t about national security, it’s about social engineering. Many members of the military will spend their entire careers without encountering a single transgender soldier, but they will endure hour upon hour of diversity training and thought control.
There will be members of the military (aided and abetted by its civilian leadership) who will take this opportunity to try to retrain the ranks about the very concepts of sex and gender, introducing radical LGBT theology as the government-approved, Army-mandated world view. And God help the Army doctor or medical professional who refuses to facilitate a servicemember’s “transition.” Good luck being a chaplain preaching about the created order if there is a prickly leftist around. The administration is moving the military culture to Yale with guns just about as fast as it can.
Fortunately the warrior culture is resilient. Infantry platoons aren’t likely to go full PC anytime soon, but the Left keeps chipping away. It will keep chipping away until the horrible reality of the battlefield reminds us all that our military isn’t a social laboratory. Our enemies focus on war while we sidetrack our soldiers with social justice.
Univision’s late night news program continued Hispanic media’s trend of uplifting LGBT voices in its reporting on the Pentagon’s announcement that it is lifting its ban on transgender people openly serving in the military.
On June 30, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Department of Defense would no longer forbid openly transgender people from serving in the military. In its report on the announcement, Univision's late night news program, Noticiero Univision: Edición Nocturna, hosted Antonia Pandilla, a transgender woman who served in the Air Force from 1978 to 1982, to talk about her experience serving under the ban. Contrasting right-wing media’s attacks on the policy change, Univision host Arantxa Loizaga described the end of the ban as “a victory for the LGBT community.” Coverage like this is yet another indication of how Hispanic media is improving its reporting on LGBT issues and making the effort to include transgender voices.
From the June 30 edition of Univision’s Noticiero Univision: Edición Nocturna (translated from Spanish):
ARANTXA LOIZAGA (HOST): In the United States armed forces, there are transgender soldiers but until today, they were not able to act openly. The Pentagon lifted a provision in light of the Defense Secretary’s idea that he has been pushing for more than a year. Andrea Linares tells us what this means.
DEFENSE SECRETARY ASH CARTER: Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly.
ANDREA LINARES: The announcement is historic. The Pentagon will allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the armed forces, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
CARTER: These new measures will be implemented throughout the next year.
LINARES: It is expected that by October 1 transgender soldiers can receive the medical treatment related to their sex change, and effective July 2017 the armed forces will allow the enlistment of new transgender members as long as they comply with the physical and psychological requirements required of any other member.
ANTONIA PADILLA: I have been living two lives, the life of a man in the day and the life of a woman at night.
LINARES: This is Antonia Padilla. She was born as a man in San Antonio, Texas, but she identifies as a woman. She was married for six years, had a daughter, and also served in the air force from 1978 to 1982.
PADILLA: Ten years ago, I said I'm not going to have falsehoods, I'm going to live honestly, I'm going to live like the woman that I am.
LINARES: Currently, Antonia works as a photographer. She says that it was difficult to live in the shadows when she was in the armed forces, but she never felt that this impeded her from carrying out her duties.
PADILLA: I am very happy that finally this decision is reality.
LINARES: A study done by RAND Corporation under the direction of Sec. Ash Carter found that of the 1.3 million active members of the army, almost 2,500 are transgender. But up until now, they have had to deny their condition in order to avoid being expelled from the military world, a situation that is now a thing of the past. The study also revealed that the medical expenses and the sex change operations will cost the Pentagon between $2.9 million and $4.2 million annually. They fear that not assuming this expense could result in a higher rate of substance abuse and suicides among transgender individuals. It's worth mentioning that the army has a budget of $610 million. Arantxa, back to you.
LOIZAGA: Andrea, thank you, a victory for the LGBT community.
While Univision’s decision to feature a transgender guest is part of the growing move towards more responsible coverage of the LGBT community by Hispanic media, the segment’s use of the word “condition” to innaccurately describe being transgender shows that there is still room to improve. The failure to use accurate, sensitive language when covering the transgender community isn’t isolated to Univision. While uplifting transgender voices is part of improving reporting on transgender people, Hispanic media should continue to look to guidelines from groups like GLAAD for how to improve the quality of coverage when reporting on transgender issues.
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On June 30, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Department of Defense would lift its ban on transgender individuals openly serving in the military. Some right-wing media figures were quick to attack the Defense Department’s decision as an “insane PC” move that allows “men with mascara” to serve.