Archive for September, 2012

Another SPLC Show Trial?

September 27, 2012

The Blogosphere is all a-buzz with the latest news that the Southern Poverty Law Center is filing a federal law suit on behalf of a New Jersey gay couple whose engagement photograph was used in an anti-gay political flier, without their knowledge or consent.

By now, most people have seen the photo of Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere holding hands and kissing in a park overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, so we won’t reprint it here. Apparently, the photo was picked up by a group called Public Advocate of the United States, who replaced the Manhattan skyline and iconic bridge in the background with evergreens and snow, to be used in a political flier in Colorado.

Public Advocate did not obtain permission to use or alter the photo from Edwards and Privitere or the photographer, Kristina Hill, who holds the copyright to the photo. The flier was distributed in Colorado as part of a campaign against State Senator Jean White because of her support for upcoming gay marriage legislation in that state.

This much we know. What we don’t know is what this has to do with the Southern Poverty Law Center? What are the actual legal issues in this case?

Was the photographer’s copyright violated by the unauthorized use of the photo? Absolutely and without a doubt.

Was Messrs Edwards’ and Privitere’s privacy violated by the unauthorized use of the photo? Most likely, though no doubt a good scuzzy lawyer could water down that argument in court.

Did Sen. White lose her primary race because of the fliers? She says she did, but the gay union bill wasn’t a major issue in the campaign.

Does any of the above add up to a ‘hate crime” worthy of the attentions of “the nation’s leading civil rights group”? Not so much.

When you get right down to it, the actual crime here is a simple copyright infringement case. The SPLC could go through the motions of making claims of libel, since the couple’s image was used in a derogatory fashion that clearly goes against their core beliefs, but libel cases are notoriously difficult to win in this country.

Undoubtedly a sleazy ploy by Public Advocate, even by political campaign standards, but “hate” it ain’t.

Will the SPLC play up this simple copyright infringement case in their never-ending fundraising propaganda as “proof” that they are “fighting hate” by “bringing these anti-gay bigots to their knees”? You betcha!

Will this dubious claim prompt the SPLC’s self-described Liberal donor base to send in millions of donor dollars over the course of the case? It’s always worked in previous SPLC show trials. Why wouldn’t it work again?

Will the New Jersey couple see one red cent of that money? Not a dime. They may receive some damages from a finding against Public Advocate, as will photographer Hill, but it will pale in comparison to the huge, tax-free windfall the SPLC is likely to gull from their gullible donors.

Time will tell.

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SPLC Media Guides

September 9, 2012

Longtime readers of Watching the Watchdogs, if their comments are accurate, have an appreciation of the information and analysis of Southern Poverty Law Center fundraising propaganda we provide here.

Oftentimes there is a lot of data to digest, at least in a written form, but as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. To that end, we have endeavored to create a series of short (to accommodate the attention-span-challenged) video clips to show just how really simple it is to find the SPLC’s raw data, almost all of it found on the SPLC’s own web site, so that the viewer can evaluate it for themselves.

We ask no one to take our word for it, but we do ask the viewer to go directly to the source, as we have, see the data for themselves and come to their own conclusions. If you think we’re way off base then please tell us so. All intelligent comments and criticisms are welcome.

These are nothing more than the simple fact checks any real journalist should make before blindly quoting Mark Potok’s press releases. This isn’t “hate,” this isn’t “domestic terrorism,” it’s Journalism 101. These are the basic fact checks the Media should make, but won’t. Check back for additional installments.

First off, Media Guide #1 is a brief examination of the fallacy of the “hate group” label, the bedrock foundation of all SPLC fundraising propaganda. There’s no legal definition for the term, so just what exactly is this “law center” tracking?

Media Guide #2 examines the bogus bookkeeping behind SPLC’s public relations chief Mark Potok’s “hate incident’ log.  Most of these “incidents” are so tenuous, from teenagers carving swastikas into park benches to 8-year-olds threatening the President. More than a third of them are nothing more than updates on earlier events. How thug vandals pleading “not guilty” in criminal court is a “hate incident” is beyond us, but the Media and the all-important donors swallow it hook, line and sinker.

Media Guide #3 examines the preposterous proposition that NOT ONE of the top executives at the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” is a minority, and that this has been the case since Morris Dees opened the doors to the SPLC in 1971. The Executive Suite at the SPLC, which overlooks Martin Luther King’s home church in Montgomery, the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement, has been home to “whites only” for more than 40 years. Think about that…


Media Guide #4 explores the “ironic” fact that once one strips out all of the “homeless hate groups” discussed in the first video guide, it turns out that the largest single category of “hate group” in America is Black, according to Mark Potok’s bogus figures. The video also includes an excellent example of the Liberal Media’s inability to comprehend that the SPLC’s fundraising numbers are not based in reality.

The Mysterious Case of Zachary Tennen

September 5, 2012

***** UPDATE — 9/30/12 ****** According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the Tennen Family has asked that the hate crime investigation be officially closed:

The family wrote in a Sept. 24 letter that “justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time,” according to reports. “The Tennen family is cognizant of the fact that substantial resources were expended to investigate these allegations and that there is insufficient evidence of a hate crime to go forward with a criminal prosecution,” the letter said.

How exactly will “justice be best served” by covering up such a heinous hate crime? Tennen’s father had already lined up “high profile lawyers” and had complained personally to the Anti-Defamation League. What justice is there in letting those evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads get away with such blatant anti-Semitism?? Isn’t this exactly the way the Nazis got started to begin with?

Well… not so much.

A couple of days earlier several news outlets released the missing details from all other reports to date. Statenews.com reports that Mr. Tennen was, in his own words, “drunk and high” at the party that night, and he began to make unwanted sexual advances on several female party-goers:

According to the report, several female students told police Tennen made advances on them at the party, touched them inappropriately, asked them to make out with him and invited them back to his apartment.

One woman said after trying to avoid Tennen several times in the backyard, she was approached by him while she was sitting outside. Tennen came up to sit next to her and began touching her in a way that made her feel “extremely uncomfortable and scared,” she told police, the report reveals.
“I looked at my phone and ignored him in hopes that he’d walk away,” the witness said. “Instead he … placed his right hand across my chest and on my upper right thigh and then began to move lower to my private parts.”

The witness said Tennen was pushing against her so she couldn’t stand up or get away and asked her to make out with him.

After slapping his hand away, she went to get help from one of her friends — the man police identified as the suspect who punched Tennen.

Chivalry, it seems, is not dead after all, even among Nazi-Klan-Skinheads. Good for them.

So, what charges will be brought in this case? Will the Nazi-Klan-Skinhead face charges for the assault? It seems unlikely: “As of Thursday, no charges have been filed. In addition, no arrests have been made, and the case is not considered a hate crime.”

Will Zachary Tennen be charged with underage drinking, public intoxication and attempted sexual assault? Not likely.

Will Mr. Tennen be charged with filing false charges and promoting a hate crime hoax?

Despite some inconsistencies between the story Tennen gave police and witness accounts of the assault, Dunnings said there is no chance Tennen could be charged with filing a false police report.

“He believed he was assaulted, and he was, in fact, hit,” [Prosecutor Stuart]Dunnings said. “The fact that there may have been some erroneous reporting around the events does not make it a false police report.”

Apparently not. “Hate crime” laws aren’t about crime, after all, are they?

As for the “erroneous reporting,” here’s a link to an ABC News report featuring Mr. Tennen literally lying through his teeth, twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/17/12 ****** And the final word from the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office:

“There is no indication at all that this was a hate crime. None. Zero,” Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said Monday. “I think it’s a shame when one person makes an allegation and everyone takes it as the truth and gets up in arms about it.”

It is a shame, Mr. Dunnings, and hopefully your office will hold Mr. Tennen responsible for this reprehensible hoax. If societies are going enact subjective “hate crime” laws based on what the perpetrator was allegedly thinking at the time of the crime, then people who abuse those laws should be held to the same standards and punishments.

Maybe that would make the hoaxers think twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/14/12 ****** The Anti-Defamation League, (ADL), has issued a press release noting that “East Lansing Police have apparently concluded that while the student was the victim of a serious physical assault, the evidence does not support his claim that the assault involved anti-Semitic hate speech or gestures, nor does it indicate that the incident was motivated by his religion.”

The ADL then concludes that:

The story is a very sad one, on many levels.  However, based on the best information currently available, ADL does not believe this incident should be treated as a hate crime.

The story is indeed a very sad one. If the ADL, the creators and promoters of many current hate crime laws on the books, believe that this is not a hate crime, they should be among the first and the loudest to call for the most severe legal penalties under the law to be brought against an intentional hate crime hoaxer.

Will the ADL do the moral thing, the right thing, by demanding justice? Will they circle the wagons around one of their own and cook up some cockamamie excuse for the alleged hoaxer, as so many special interest groups are wont to do in these situations? Will the ADL and the Media simply allow this case to case to drop down the Memory Hole and never speak of it again?

Only time will tell. Stay tuned for further updates, if and when they occur.

***** UPDATE — 9/6/12 ****** Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, offers some good advice on allowing the police investigation to proceed before making the very serious charges of anti-Semitism or “hate crime.”

*******************

Another horrific hate crime story was in the news last week that bears watching for further developments. Like the violent attack reported by Lincoln, Nebraska, lesbian Charlie Rogers in July, the early media reports on the attack on 19-year-old Jewish college student Zachary Tennen have evolved into an entirely different scenario.

Charlie Rogers claimed she was attacked because of her sexual identity. Early media reports determined that “three white men”  had undoubtedly committed one of the most heinous hate crimes in Nebraska history. Lincoln police investigated her report as a hate crime, but after examining the evidence they have since arrested Ms. Rogers and are charging her with faking the attack and filing a false report.

Early reports on the Tennen attack say that the MSU journalism student was at an off-campus party early on the morning of August 26 when two males with “shaved heads”  approached and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was Jewish, the two men allegedly made “Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK,” according to Tennen’s report.

At that point, according to the media, the Klan-Nazi-Skinheads proceeded to “knock” or “beat” (depending on the source) Tennen into unconsciousness and then “stapled his mouth shut.”

Hate crimes don’t come much clearer than that (unless it comes to “carving” slurs into the flesh of a lesbian) and the media had a feeding frenzy.  Once again, before the police had even begun their preliminary investigation, the usual special interest groups weighed in to register their “horror” at this obvious anti-Semitic hate crime.

At least the ADL had the common sense to deplore an “alleged attack,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to be watching and waiting on this one, having been singed by the Charlie Rogers incident.

East Lansing Police have since painted a slightly different picture of the events that don’t quite line up with Tennen’s version.

  • Witnesses at the party did not see or hear any “Nazi symbols” prior to the attack.
  • Tennen was knocked to the ground by a single punch (There’s a difference between being kayo’d by a single punch and being “beaten,” just as there is a significant difference between “carving” and “scratching” words on a person’s skin.)
  • Witnesses who saw the punch said the two men left immediately afterward and there was no stapler or stapling involved. (Do Klan-Nazi-Skinheads carry Swingline staplers nowadays?). Photos and a video interview with Tennen show no puncture wounds to his face or lips.
  • Tennen did not report the incident to police until a good 12 hours later.
Click image to enlarge

In the days following the attack, the media backed off from the hate crime angle, and like the East Lansing police, are now suspecting that Tennen was one of countless college students across the country that night who had a few drinks at an off-campus party, said or did something to offend a fellow guest and found themselves lying in a crumpled heap on the ground shortly thereafter.

“Two witnesses said they saw the victim having an argument with two other males in the front yard and one  punched him (Tennen) in the face,” [Police] Capt. Jeff Murphy said.

“There was nothing about anti-Semitic statements or about his face being stapled,” Murphy said.

“It appears to be a one-punch-to-the-face type assault,” Murphy said

Tennen’s parents aren’t giving up on their son’s account, however. It was they who notified the ADL of the attack and they have since made several public allegations that the witnesses and police may be covering up the true anti-Semitic nature of the crime.

Tennen’s father, Bruce Tennen, is determined to play the hate crime angle to the hilt:

We are in the process of engaging a high-profile governmental attorney,” Bruce Tennen said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s my hope that the assailants will be apprehended soon by the East Lansing Police Department, brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent under applicable state and federal criminal laws.

Mr. Tennen may be disappointed if there turns out to be very few state and federal statutes regarding a punch in the face.

Just as in the Rogers case, though, some special interest groups are hedging their bets so that even if this case does turn out to be another hate crime hoax the perpetrator’s actions will be justified.

Shortly after Charlie Rogers was charged with making a false report a coalition of Nebraska LGBT groups noted that “It is important not to focus on the actions of any single individual,” the statement read. “As residents of Lincoln we must continue to bring our community together to declare that violence and hate are not the values of our city.”

Oddly enough, up until Rogers was charged, these same groups were very much focused on the alleged actions of three white male individuals. If they had committed these heinous acts these groups would have done everything in their power to extract the most severe penalties under law.

Now that it looks like Ms. Rogers fabricated the entire crime they’re willing to look the other way and there is no cry from them to charge Ms. Rogers with anything more than the misdemeanor of filing false charges. How exactly does this double standard “bring the community together”? Where’s the outrage now?

In a similar vein, Alex Waldman, president of MSU’s Jewish Student Union, seems just as willing to turn a blind eye in the event that Mr. Tennen might have exaggerated the events of that night.

Regardless of what the outcome of this incident is, this is an opportunity for our campus to evaluate hate toward groups, whether it’s cultural, racial or religious; hate is always there, and (for) students our age, as young adults, it is our responsibility to eliminate that.”

Hopefully, Mr. Waldman means that it is also the community’s responsibility to eliminate the irresponsible misuse of hate crime laws in the furtherance of anyone’s personal agendas.

Police have since identified and interviewed two suspects, though no arrests have been made as of this writing. We don’t know all the facts yet. Maybe the suspects really are Klan-Nazi-Skinheads so this case is still open.

As with the Charlie Rogers case, it will be worth watching this one to see just what actually happened that night.

Stay tuned for details as they come in.


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