” Controversial, intolerant and provocative. Mainstream media outlets broke out these three words to describe the “Draw the Prophet” contest, the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Pamela Geller.
While the police were still checking cars for explosives and attendees waited to be released, CNN called AFDI, rather than the terrorists who attacked a cartoon contest, “intolerant.” Time dubbed the group “controversial.” The Washington Post called the contest, “provocative.”
Many media outlets relied on the expert opinion of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a multi-million dollar mail order scam disguised as a civil rights group, which had listed AFDI as a hate group. Also listed as hate groups were a number of single author blogs, including mine, a brand of gun oil and a bar sign.
The bar sign, which hangs outside a bar seven miles outside Pittsburgh, appears to be made out of metal and plastic. It is reportedly unaware that it is a hate group and has made no plans to take over America.
The SPLC’s inability to conduct even the most elementary fact checking did not stop news networks from inviting its talking head on to suggest that AFDI got “the response that they — in a sense — they are seeking.” Neither CNN nor MSNBC were impolitic enough to mention that no AFDI supporter had used its materials to plan a killing spree, while at least one of SPLC’s supporters had done just that.
But being “controversial” and “provocative” has nothing to do with who is doing the shooting. It’s a media signal that the target shouldn’t be sympathized with. The Family Research Council, which was shot up by a killer using the SPLC’s hate map, is invariably dubbed “intolerant.” The SPLC, which targeted it, is however a “respected civil rights group” which provides maps to respected civil rights gunmen.
A contest in which Bosch Fawstin, an ex-Muslim, drew a cartoon of a genocidal warlord is “controversial” and “provocative,” while the MSA, which has invited Sheikh Khalid Yasin, who has inspired a number of terrorists, including apparently one of the Mohammed contest attackers, is a legitimate organization that is only criticized by controversial, intolerant and provocative Islamophobes.”