Florida Family Association

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The Florida Family Association (FFA) is a Tampa, Florida-based non-profit organization founded by David Caton. It campaigns primarily against homosexuality and Islamic-American relations. The organization is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[1] In 2013 the New York Times noted FFA was a a one-man Christian fundamentalist organization.[2]

History[edit]

David Caton founded the organization now known as the Florida Family Association in 1987, which at the time, was operating as the American Family Association. In 1990, he authored the book, “Overcoming the Addiction to Pornography.” Bill Dedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist wrote an article about the AFA in 1992 titled “Bible Belt Blowhard” that chronicled the group, and wrote that Caton had “been hooked for years on liquor, marijuana, cocaine, Quaaludes, Ativan, and masturbation.”[3]

Caton eventually broke off from the AFA and set up the FFA where he is Executive Director. The AFA, also labeled a hate group,[4] is considered to be more mainstream than the FFA according to The New York Times.[2]

The FFA operates with Caton serving as the only employee.[2]

Islamophobia[edit]

In 2011, the Florida Family Association campaigned against advertisers of the TLC show “All-American Muslim.” The reality show stars five Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan. The FFA claimed that the absence of radical Muslims actually advances Islamic fundamentalism, citing the fact that the show did not portray Muslims as terrorists.[2] Caton compared Muslims to snakes in an interview with the Associated Press.[5][6]

The FFA emailed advertisers demanding they stop advertising during the show. Lowe’s pulled their ads and then faced nationwide protests due to their decision and issued an apology. In their statement, Lowe’s said it has “a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.”[7]

The FFA has also called on schools to stop visits from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that facilitates speaking engagements to educate on stereotypes, human rights and women in Islam.[8]

An Orlando reverend, Joel Hunter, voiced opposition to intolerance against Muslims and subsequently received hundreds of emails and letters from the FFA, one of which said, “I hope your family dies in a fire.”[9]

In September 2013, the FFA flew a banner before a Cincinnati Bengals football game that targeted Procter & Gamble due to their advertisements airing on television network Al Jazeera America. The banner read “Procter & Gamble Sponsors Jihad TV.”[10]

Claims[edit]

The FFA sent emails to companies advertising during All-American Muslim urging them to drop their advertising. But Lowe’s Vice President Tom Lamb later said, “The decision was absolutely not, despite what’s been reported in the media, influenced by any one group.”[11]

The FFA also claimed Campbell’s Soup had removed their advertising, but the company continued running them in future episodes.[12] The FFA also claimed that they influenced Home Depot to stop advertising during the show, but Home Depot said it was never even an advertiser, with one ad showing by accident.[13]

Public Reaction[edit]

The New Jersey Star-Ledger Editorial Board called the FFA a “club for bigots,”[14] while the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board described the FFA as “one-man force of anti-Muslim bigotry.”[15]

In the wake of the controversy, “All-American Muslim” sold out all of their advertising time.[16]

California State Senator Ted Lieu wrote to Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock calling their action “bigoted, shameful and un-American.”[17] Minnesota Republican Congressman Keith Ellison, said that Caton displays “a startling lack of information about Islam” and called the FFA a “fringe group that is literally promoting hatred and bigotry.”[18]

The Florida Family Association website was shut down in December 2011 after being hacked by Anonymous.[19]

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Daniel Ruth described Caton as a “biblical bully” and a “plague of boils on the community’s spiritual life.”[20]

The FFA was criticized on the Daily Show with John Stewart, who mocked them for taking issue with the televising of Muslims without the terrorist element and called Caton’s view “narrow minded.”[21]

Anti-Gay[edit]

The Florida Family Association compared gay children to murderers in a 1998 protest of a high school support group, the Gay Straight Alliance, a club formed for children being harassed at Largo High School in Florida. Principal Barbara Thornton said the FFA had “launched a viscous attack against our students.”[22] Thornton also noted that despite their protest, the FFA was unsuccessful as the student population rallied behind the club.[2]

In August 2012, Caton created a derogatory term for transvestites, combining the word with homosexual to create “transmo.”[23]

Legislation[edit]

The FFA has opposed an ordinance that would provide job and housing protection to gays,[24] and an anti-bullying bill aimed at banning bullying based on a student’s sexual orientation.[25] The group has also opposed the passage of a human rights ordinance that would expand protection to gays, lesbians and bisexuals,[26] while also opposing a measure that would protect transgender people from discrimination.[27]

Entertainment[edit]

In 2008, the FFA opposed corporate advertising during MTV’s “A Shot at Love,” campaigning against it due to the fact it featured a bisexual woman.[28] The FFA listed on its accomplishments page that the network had cancelled the show, but MTV ran a third season titled “A Double Shot at Love,” starring two bisexual women.[29]

The FFA also targeted the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and asked advertisers to pull their ads. After the FFA claimied victory in Kodak stopping their ads, Kodak said in a statement that their ads were stopped as part of a “planned pause” and would continue the following week.[30]

The FFA has flown banners by airplane over Disney World that state: “WARNING GAY DAY AT DISNEY,”[31] and did similar prior to a Lady Gaga concert, with the banner reading “NOT BORN THIS WAY.”[32]

Labeled a hate group[edit]

The Florida Family Association is designated as a “general hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of 59 hate groups located in the state of Florida; a list that includes the Ku Klux Klan, the New Black Panther Party and several Neo-Nazi groups.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Active General Hate Groups". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Samuel G. Freedman, "Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims", New York Times, 25 September 2013
  3. ^ Bill Dedman, "Bible Belt Blowhard", Mother Jones, November–December 1992
  4. ^ "American Family Association". SPLC. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "David Caton". glaad. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Carlton, Sue. "Morality mouthpiece David Caton's latest target: Muslims". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Memmott, Mark. "Lowe's Ignites Controversy By Pulling Ads From 'All-American Muslim'". NPR. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Sokol, Marlene. "Florida Family Association's David Caton protests Muslim speaker's visits to Hillsborough school". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Maxwell, Scott. "Florida legislators join anti-Islamic crusade". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  10. ^ Tashman, Brian. "Florida Family Association Labels Al Jazeera America 'Jihad TV'". Right Wing Watch. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Greenfield, Rebecca. "Lowe's Continues Its Lonely Anti-'All-American Muslim' Crusade". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  12. ^ Ross, Andrew S. (20 December 2011). "Advertisers cave to pressure over 'Muslim' show". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  13. ^ Anderson, Mae. "Lowe's sticking with decision to pull ads from controversial TV show". Tulsa World. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "Retailers like Lowe's must withstand hate group's intolerance". NJ.com. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Muslims' key role in snagging terror suspect". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  16. ^ Duke, Alan (13 December 2011). "'All-American Muslim' sells out, despite Lowe's withdrawal". CNN. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "Sen. Ted Lieu today calls on CEO of Lowe's home-improvement chain to apologize to American Muslims for 'bigoted, shameful' actions". Senate.ca.gov. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "Transcripts". CNN. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  19. ^ Deggans, Eric. "Florida Family Association shuts down website, claims it was hacked". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  20. ^ Ruth, Daniel. "David Caton: A biblical bully who just needs to shut up". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  21. ^ Bierly, Mandi. "Jon Stewart takes on Florida Family Association over 'All-American Muslim' flap -- VIDEO". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  22. ^ Steinle, Diane. "Largo takes tiny step on long road to human rights". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  23. ^ Munzenrieder. "Florida Family Association: "Drag Queen" Barbie Is Only for "Transmos"". MiamiNewTimes. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  24. ^ Thomas, Mike. "Gays Show They Know Just How To Get Job Done". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  25. ^ Dunkelberger, Lloyd. "Anti-Bullying Bill Brings Out Extremes". The Ledger. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  26. ^ Van Sant, Will. "Pinellas extends human rights ordinance to include gays, lesbians and bisexuals". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  27. ^ Zink, Janet. "Tampa City Council passes antidiscrimination rules for transgender people". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  28. ^ "Florida Family Association 2008 Accomplishments and Victories". Florida Family Association. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  29. ^ "A Double Shot at Love". MTV. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  30. ^ Derby, Kevin. "Florida Family Association Claims Another Coup as Kodak Stops 'DeGrassi' Ads on Teen Nick". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  31. ^ Joseph, Chris. "Florida Anti-Gay Group Warning People About Disney's Gay Day With An Airplane Banner". Broward/Palm Beach New Times. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  32. ^ Bennett-Smith, Meredith (16 January 2013). "Florida Family Association Flies Anti-Gay Ad Over Lady Gaga Concert In Washington State". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  33. ^ "Hate Map". SPLC. Retrieved 30 September 2013.