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When Is Politically Motivated Violence 'Expected'?

The Family Research Council shooting, one year later.

12:55 PM, Aug 15, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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My criticism of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is also misrepresented; I specifically credited it for going after racists and violent hate groups. My concern was that shifting the focus onto nonviolent groups that the SPLC objects to on political grounds would debase the more important work it is doing. Just yesterday, a representative from the Southern Poverty Law Center went on television and claimed that the Boston marathon bombers were "right-wing"—a scurrilous and bizarre claim. Such things make it hard to take the SPLC seriously.

So those are the trivial objections, and I don't expect everyone to agree with my views, or honestly represent what I wrote. I am, however, simply appalled that a Christian pastor would describe what happened as "an expected outcome that surprises no one who knows what the Family Research Council does."

To be scrupulously fair, from the context, I'm not entirely sure whether the "expected outcome" Rev. Nussbaum is referring to is the shooting itself or imbalanced media coverage. Either way, it's justifying violence to a greater or lesser degree. And this in a nutshell is why I find the Family Research Council shooting and the context surrounding it so troubling. It's a textbook example of how merely labeling someone intolerant becomes an excuse to actually be intolerant. If we want a better political discourse in this country, to say nothing of discouraging violence, we have to resist this impulse.

*The Rev. Martin Nussbaum is not to be confused with L. Martin Nussbaum, a Colorado lawyer who, as it happens, has done commendable work defending religious freedom.

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