Gavin McInnes, the conservative commentator and host of the internet-based program "Get Off My Lawn," is suing the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center for designating him a "hate" figure, charging the group's "concerted, obsessive and malicious actions" were designed to harm him.
"SPLC's defamatory, false, and misleading designation of Mr. McInnes as a 'hate' figure is purposefully deceitful and intended to tarnish Mr. McInnes's reputation, disparage Mr. McInnes's good name and work, inflict harm and financial damage, reduce Mr. McInnes's goodwill and standing in the community, expose Mr. MicInnes, his family and anyone else associated with him to public scorn, harassment, intimidation, and potential violence, and to denigrate, malign, and ridicule Mr. McInnes to countless individuals and potential employers and partners around the world," Monday's lawsuit by McInnes explains.
It's just the latest in a number of lawsuits against SPLC over its hate-group designation, which puts Christian pro-family groups such as the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom in the same category as the KKK and other white supremacists.
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SPLC leaders Richard Cohen and Heidi Beirich recently were sued by the Center for Immigration Studies under the nation's organized crime law for "falsely" designating CIS as a "hate group." The civil case filed under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, charges the SPLC leaders have violated federal wire fraud and other laws. It alleges a "pattern of racketeering through SPLC enterprise" and seeks a judgment of three times the damages to CIS as well as attorneys' fees and costs.
The damage from SPLC "hate" labels has been real.
CIS said in its complaint: "In 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered the lobby of the Family Research Council, a Christian nonprofit charity and lobbying group based in Washington D.C., with a 9mm pistol and shot an FRC employee, before being wrestled to the ground until police arrived.
"When interviewed by the FBI, Corkins admitted he intended to kill the staff and said, 'Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups. I found them online.' On its website, the SPLC has a map displaying the locations of all 'hate groups' in the country, which includes the FRC's headquarters where Corkins entered. The SPLC responded by saying that the FRC deserved to be labeled a hate group because it 'has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda.'"
Author and pundit John Stossel once said SPLC was a hate group itself.
SPLC also was sued in U.S. District Court in Maryland by Baltimore lawyer Glen K. Allen, who named SPLC and leaders Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok.
Allen's lawsuit alleges: "Motivated by lucrative fundraising aims and employing fundraising techniques decried across the political spectrum as deceptive, the SPLC's avowed goal, under the leadership of Beirich, Potok, and others, is to destroy, through public shaming, loss of employment, loss of reputation and other severe harms, groups and persons the SPLC broadly defines as its political enemies."
The complaint contends SPLC is not entitled to "receive, pay for, and use stolen documents, including confidential documents and documents protected by attorney client privilege, to tortiously interfere with Allen's prospective advantage in employment; to defame him by publishing false statements that he was 'infiltrating' the city of Baltimore's Law Department; or to masquerade as a 501c3 public interest law firm dedicated to a tax exempt educational mission, when in reality the SPLC fails the basic requirements for this favored status because of its illegal actions (including numerous instances of mail and wire fraud), multiple violations of canons of professional ethics (including improper disclosure of confidential and privileged documents and failure to train its nonlawyer employees), orchestration of violations of the constitutional rights of the organizations and individuals it targets, and sensational supermarket tabloid style one-sided depictions of its victims."
Previously, SPLC settled a lawsuit by Maajid Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation for more than $3 million for putting them on the "hate" list."
McInnes' complaint contends that while he is an "avowed and vocal opponent of discrimination based on race, religion or sexual preference, and of ideologies and movements espousing extremism, nationalism and white supremacy," SPLC still gave him its "hate designation."
In the lawsuit, McInnes says SPLC is "defaming him by use of the SPLC Hate Designations, and publishing other false, damaging and defamatory statements about him."
The case was filed in Alabama District Court.
McInnes alleges SPLC "harassed" him, his family and friends, and lied about him.
A statement from McInnes, reported by Gateway Pundit, said: "They purposely lie about their enemies in an attempt to 'destroy' them (their words) and it's become a very effective way to make money. Scaremongering brought them the $50 million their founder originally set out to make. Since then, it's garnered hundreds of millions including untold millions in the Cayman Islands. I don't fault entrepreneurs, but they are using this incredible wealth to wield power over the innocent and destroy careers and businesses in their insatiable need to generate more bigots – because in the world of SPLC fundraising, mo hate is mo money."
The lawsuit explains SPLC lumps those who disagree with its social agenda as "haters," along with groups such as the KKK.
Among SPLC's targets?
"Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson and former Vanderbilt University professor and scholar Carol Swain, who are both black … Christian organizations such as the Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, ADF, Freedom, American Family Association, and the Pacific Justice Institute … Islamic anti-extremism activists Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maajid Nawaz, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer … immigration enforcement advocacy groups FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies, The Remembrance Project, ProEnglish and, legal Immigrants for America … American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray … write and commentator David Horowitz; Accuracy in Media President Cliff Kinkaid … WorldNetDaily (WND) founder Joseph Farah, Sen. Rand Paul, and plaintiff Gavin McInnes."
McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys organization but left it in 2018, brought the action because SPLC "acknowledges that its goal is to destroy organizations and persons it targets as 'hate groups.'"
Issues that trigger SPLC's "hate" designations include "constitutionally protected 'marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing,'" the complaint explains.
It points out SPLC decided to "settle" with FRC over that organization's claims following the Corkins attack.
"Based on SPLC's 'hate' targeting, SPLC ultimately paid Family Research Council $3.4 million to settle its defamation claim."
"Three years later, in June of 2017, during a weekend softball game that had been publicly announced, James Hodgkinson attempted to kill those Republican members of Congress and their staff who were present, critically injuring U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and several congressional staffers," the filing said. "The ensuing investigation revealed that Hodgkinson 'followed' SPLC on Facebook, and by all indications knew that SPLC had associated Rep. Scalise, a conservative Republican, with SPLC-designated 'hate groups.'"
The filing continues, "Short of incitement to murder, SPLC's designation of an organization as a 'hate group' or a person as a 'extremist' can and does kill careers and reputations."
SPLC seeks to deplatform and defund its designated "hate" organizations.
That includes working with social media companies to ban the groups and with financial companies to block their transactions.
The complaint alleges interference with financial transactions, defamation, false light invasion of privacy, aiding and abetting employment discrimination.
The filing seeks court declarations that SPLC's publication of "false" representations were done with actual malice, that the statements damaged McInnes, and that he should be paid actual, compensatory and pecuniary damages.