D.A. King and the Dustin Inman Society are said to be the first to overcome dismissal hurdle
“The society is seeking $25,000 in donations to fund its legal effort against the SPLC. Supporters can contribute on GoFundMe.”
The Daily Signal
April 4, 2023
SPLC to Face the Music for ‘Hate Group’ Defamation as Lawsuit Clears Major Hurdle
FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—The Southern Poverty Law Center routinely brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” placing them on a map with chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, but most lawsuits aiming to hold the SPLC accountable for this alleged defamation have failed.
On Friday, however, a federal judge denied the SPLC’s motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit, allowing the case to proceed.
The SPLC branded the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society an “anti-immigrant hate group” in February 2018 after the SPLC had previously stated in 2011 that it did not consider the society a “hate group.” The society, named after a 16-year-old Georgia boy killed in a 2000 car crash caused by an illegal immigrant, aims to combat illegal immigration.
“After telling the Associated Press in 2011 that we were not a ‘hate group,’ the SPLC changed their mind and made us an ‘anti-immigrant hate group’ within days of their registering as active lobbyists against pro-enforcement, immigration-related legislation here in the Georgia Capitol,” D.A. King, the society’s founder and president, told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement Tuesday.
King claimed that the SPLC’s “goal was clearly to paint us as the extremists and to marginalize us in the eyes of state lawmakers and the media. That effort was largely successful.”
- Related: The SPLC took in $140 million in donations for 2021 alone
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it used to monitor the Ku Klux Klan—the Intelligence Project—and weaponized it against conservatives and Christians, branding them “hate groups” in an effort to raise money and demonize its ideological opponents. The SPLC has an endowment of more than $500 million and bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. Amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal in 2019 that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder, a former employee came forward, calling the “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”
King’s lawsuit quotes Heidi Beirich—then-director of the Intelligence Project—who told The Associated Press in 2011 that the SPLC did not consider the society a “hate group,” but rather listed King as a “nativist.”
“His tactics have generally not been to get up in the face of actual immigrants and threaten them,” Beirich said. “Because he is fighting, working on his legislation through the political process, that is not something we can quibble with, whether we like the law or not.”
The lawsuit claims that the SPLC did not indicate that King or the Dustin Inman Society had changed their activities between 2011 and 2018—in fact, many of the statements and activities the SPLC cites as evidence that the society is a “hate group” date back to before 2011.
The lawsuit cites an SPLC definition for “anti-immigrant hate group” that dates back to 2020, which no longer appears on the SPLC website—although the center appears not to have adopted a new definition:
Anti-immigrant hate groups are the most extreme of the hundreds of nativist groups that have proliferated since the late 1990s, when anti-immigration xenophobia began to rise to levels not seen in the United States since the 1920s. Most white hate groups are also anti-immigrant, but anti-immigrant hate groups single out that population with dehumanizing and demeaning rhetoric. Although many groups legitimately criticize American immigration policies, anti-immigrant hate groups go much further by pushing racist propaganda and ideas about non-white immigrants.
While the SPLC brands the society an “anti-immigrant hate group,” it does not point to any specific evidence that King or the society “maligned an entire class of people” or fit the definition cited above. “Further, a cursory review of [Plaintiff] DIS’s website would have revealed that the Board of Advisors of [Plaintiff] DIS is a diverse group of Americans with a variety of racial and immigrant backgrounds,” the lawsuit alleges.
Inger Eberhart, a member of the society’s board and its director of communications, is a black woman; Everette Robinson and Catherine Davis are also black; Mary Grabar is a legal immigrant from Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia); Maria Litland is a legal immigrant who appears on the Austrian Society of America website; and Sabine Durden-Coulter immigrated legally from Germany. Durden-Coulter lost her son in a 2012 car crash caused by an illegal immigrant (with no connection to the crash that killed Dustin Inman).
While the SPLC claimed not to have any knowledge of the society’s board in legal filings, the SPLC’s article on the society notes its “eight-member board of advisors.”… the article continues here at the Daily Signal.