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Southern Poverty Law Center Names Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) as Hate Group

In its latest quarterly publication “The Year in Hate and Extremism” (Issue 45, Spring 2012) the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, names Men’s Rights Activists as a hate group, citing the MRAs’ — alternately known as “Father’s Rights Activists” — virulent misogyny, spreading of false anti-woman propaganda and applauding and even encouraging acts of domestic terrorism and extreme violence against women and children, up to and including murder.  In the same issue, the SPLC reports on the activities of other hate groups with headlines such as Georgia Militia Members to be Tried Later this Year in Movement’s Latest Murder Plot; Son of Holocaust Memorial Shooter Discusses Family History of Racial Hate; and Animal Rights Extremist Camille Marino Calls for Violence.

For those not in the know, the SPLC

is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.[...]  The SPLC was founded to ensure that the promises of the civil rights movement became a reality for all. Since our founding in 1971, we’ve won numerous landmark legal victories on behalf of the exploited, the powerless and the forgotten.

Our lawsuits have toppled institutional racism in the South, bankrupted some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups and won justice for exploited workers, abused prison inmates, disabled children and other victims of discrimination.

The SPLC’s approach to monitoring, and toppling, hate groups is three-pronged, with the SPLC tracking the activities of hate groups and domestic terrorists across America and launching innovative lawsuits that seek to destroy networks of radical extremists; using the courts and other forms of advocacy to win systemic reforms on behalf of victims of bigotry and discrimination; and providing educators with free resources that teach school children to reject hate, embrace diversity and respect differences.

In the current issue, the SPLC dedicates three feature articles to exposing, exploring and monitoring MRAs.

In Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement, SPLC reporter Arthur Goldwag describes the self-immolation of MRA Thomas Jefferson Ball just outside a family law courthouse, an act that was intended to be and has been subsequently embraced as a call-to-arms of American MRAs and misogynists who feel slighted by the American family law courts, which often delve deeply into accusations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse within families, where the family or “private sphere” has historically been men’s private domain, where they were allowed to terrorize and damage women and children with impunity, and where men could historically let themselves off the hook for financial support just by leaving town, denying paternity, or worse.

In what was also an act of domestic terrorism by Ball, where he committed an illegal act that was dangerous to human life and was apparently intended to intimidate and coerce both civilians and the government, this self-immolation by the leader of the Worcester branch of the Massachusetts-based Fatherhood Coalition was also apparently a declaration of war against the family court system and against women and children:

In a lengthy “Last Statement,” which arrived posthumously at the Keene Sentinel, Tom Ball told his story. All he had done, he said, was smack his 4-year-old daughter and bloody her mouth after she licked his hand as he was putting her to bed. Feminist-crafted anti-domestic violence legislation did the rest. “Twenty-five years ago,” he wrote, “the federal government declared war on men. It is time to see how committed they are to their cause. It is time, boys, to give them a taste of war.” Calling for all-out insurrection, he offered tips on making Molotov cocktails and urged his readers to use them against courthouses and police stations. “There will be some casualties in this war,” he predicted. “Some killed, some wounded, some captured. Some of them will be theirs. Some of the casualties will be ours.”

Predictably, the manosphere, the name for organized online MRA hate groups, largely supported Ball and sympathized with his persecution complex and feelings of male-entitlement and woman-hatred:

Ball’s suicide brought attention to an underworld of misogynists, woman-haters whose fury goes well beyond criticism of the family court system, domestic violence laws, and false rape accusations. There are literally hundreds of websites, blogs and forums devoted to attacking virtually all women (or, at least, Westernized ones) — the so-called “manosphere,” which now also includes a tribute page for Tom Ball (“He Died For Our Children”).

Only weeks later, the manosphere responded favorably to the mass-murder of 77 people by Norweigian MRA Anders Behring Breivik, who railed against “divorce on demand” and sounded the misogynistic dog-whistle to aggrieved men around the world:

This kind of woman-hatred is increasingly visible in most Western societies, and it tends to be allied with other anti-modern emotions — opposition to same-sex marriage, to non-Christian immigration, to women in the workplace, and even, in some cases, to the advancement of African Americans. Just a few weeks after Ball’s death, while scorch marks were still visible on the sidewalk in Keene, N.H., that was made clear once more by a Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik.

On July 22, Breivik slaughtered 77 of his countrymen, most of them teenagers, in Oslo and at a summer camp on the island of Utøya, because he thought they or their parents were the kinds of “politically correct” liberals who were enabling Muslim immigration. But Breivik was almost as voluble on the subjects of feminism, the family, and fathers’ rights as he was on Islam. “The most direct threat to the family is ‘divorce on demand,’” he wrote in the manifesto he posted just before he began his deadly spree. “The system must be reformed so that the father will be awarded custody rights by default.”

The manosphere lit up. Said one approving poster at The Spearhead, an online men’s rights magazine for the “defense of ourselves, our families and our fellow men”: “What could be more ‘an eye for an eye’ than to kill the children of those who were so willing to destroy men’s families and destroy the homeland of men?”

In the second article, Men’s Rights Movement Spreads False Claims about Women reporters Mark Potok and Evelyn Schlatter outline the most common anti-woman propaganda used by American MRAs to incite misogynist rage, encourage further violence, and to garner sympathy for their alleged mistreatment by women and the court system in cases of divorce and custody disputes and even cases involving criminal charges of stalking, rape, and murder.  For example, MRAs often cite false statistics about the incidence and prevalence of female-initiated sex-crimes and abuse against male victims, claiming that the situation is at least as bad for men (if not worse) when the research consistently shows that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of abuses such as rape, intimate partner rape and stalking, and that women are overwhelmingly the victims.  Unsurprisingly, the research also consistently shows that when men are raped, it is almost always by other men, and not by women.

MRA hate groups are also consistently rageful — and untruthful — when disseminating false and debunked statistics regarding “false rape charges”.  From the article:

THE CLAIM Close to half or even more of the sexual assaults reported by women never occurred. Versions of this claim are a mainstay of sites like Register-Her.com, which specializes in vilifying women who allegedly lie about being raped. Such claims are also sometimes made by men involved in court custody battles.

THE REALITY This claim, which has gained some credence in recent years, is largely based on a 1994 article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by Eugene Kanin that found that 41% of rape allegations in his study were “false.” But Kanin’s methodology has been widely criticized, and his results do not accord with most other findings. Kanin researched only one unnamed Midwestern town, and he did not spell out the criteria police used to decide an allegation was false. The town also polygraphed or threatened to polygraph all alleged victims, a now-discredited practice that is known to cause many women to drop their complaint even when it is true. In fact, most studies that suggest high rates of false accusations make a key mistake — equating reports described by police as “unfounded” with those that are false. The truth is that unfounded reports very often include those for which no corroborating evidence could be found or where the victim was deemed an unreliable witness (often because of drug or alcohol use or because of prior sexual contact with the attacker). They also include those cases where women recant their accusations, often because of a fear of reprisal, a distrust of the legal system or embarrassment because drugs or alcohol were involved. The best studies, where the rape allegations have been studied in detail, suggest a rate of false reports of somewhere between 2% and 10%. The most comprehensive study, conducted by the British Home Office in 2005, found a rate of 2.5% for false accusations of rape. The best U.S. investigation, the 2008 “Making a Difference” study, found a 6.8% rate.

And in Misogyny: The Sites, the SPLC highlights a dozen popular MRA websites and blogs, documenting examples of the “astounding” woman-hatred espoused by MRA hate groups.

Of course, the women and girls who have been targeted by woman-haters and misogynistic hate groups both recently and over the years might not choose the word “astounding” to describe known reality, and what has been a raging online and in real life war against women for years, any more than any other targeted group might be “astounded” by organized hate groups who regularly disseminate political propaganda and incite class hatred and even violence against them.  What might be “astounding” however is that the MRAs have not previously been exposed and actively monitored by a nationally renowned civil rights organization before, when they clearly meet the criteria of “hate group” and deserve to be monitored and even prosecuted when the facts warrant it, like any other hate group.

Until now.  And monitoring and prosecuting American hate groups is what the SPLC does best:

Fighting Hate in Court

In the early 1980s, SPLC co-founder and chief trial counsel Morris Dees pioneered the strategy of using the courts to battle organized, violent hate groups. Since then, we have won numerous large damage awards on behalf of victims of hate group violence. These cases are funded entirely by our supporters; we accept no legal fees from the clients we represent.

Among the groups shut down by crushing jury verdicts in SPLC cases are the White Aryan Resistance, the United Klans of America, the White Patriot Party militia and the Aryan Nations.

These cases have made the SPLC and Dees reviled enemies of the extremist movement. Our headquarters in Montgomery has been the target of numerous plots by extremist groups, including a firebombing that destroyed our offices in 1983. Several dozen people have been sent to prison for plotting against Dees or the SPLC.

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