Talk:Southern Poverty Law Center

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Recent edits[edit]

Starting discussion about section being added/removed by editors (see, for example, this edit).

I agree Academic Questions is not a sufficient source for this. It does not appear to be peer reviewed. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 18:09, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

This edit was reverted. I was asked to use the talk page so here I am. ERIC indicates the journal "Academic Questions" is peer reviewed. The language of my edit Despite criticism from many conservative sources, SPLC is a definitive source amongst progressive academics and media organisations. A 2014 critical analysis of their stated ideals as compared to outcomes found they applied subjective criteria in defining hate groups and that they focused almost exclusively on right-wing groups despite left-wing groups that "... have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people". In spite of this the analysis found that SPLC would not include such groups lest it jeopardize the generous sums funneled its way by progressive donors. seems neutral and appropriate for a controversy/criticism section. What specifically is the objection? José Antonio Zapato (talk) 18:28, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
The paragraph looks reasonable to me, except for the British spellings. Roger (talk) 18:46, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
It's a shame we can't follow the standard edit/re-edit process on the article page, but here I've refined the quote above.

Despite this criticism from conservative sources [1], SPLC is a definitive source amongst progressive academics and media organizations. An analysis comparing their stated ideals to outcomes in the journal Academic Questioned found they applied subjective criteria in defining hate groups and that they focused almost exclusively on right-wing groups despite left-wing groups that "... have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people." The analysis noted that criticizing progressive groups might negatively impact the SPLC's funding, the majority of which comes from progressive donors. [2]


  1. ^ Dave Urbanski (Mar 26, 2014). "Liberal Group That Trumpets ‘Hate Map’ Feels the Sting of Backlash — and From a Gov’t Agency That Might Surprise You". The Blaze. 
  2. ^ Yancey, George (January 2014). "Watching the Watchers: The Neglect of Academic Analysis of Progressive Groups". Academic Questions (Springer US) 27 (1): 65-78. doi:10.1007/s12129-014-9411-x. 
Academic Questions is a journal published by Springer and does appear to be peer-reviewed, both of which are factors in favor of considering it WP:RS. The issue is that the group responsible for its content is National Association of Scholars, "a politically conservative advocacy group" (from the lead of the Wikipedia article about them, not an official position). I don't think that necessarily rules it out as a reliable source, but it does mean we can't use it as though it's presenting an objective analysis. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 19:55, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
Reading WP:SCHOLARSHIP I think the examples given in the citation for "journals that exist mainly to promote a particular point of view" are illustrative. They are:

Examples include The Creation Research Society Quarterly and Journal of Frontier Science (the latter uses blog comments as peer review).

The latter doesn't apply and the former implies advocacy of a single issue or set of issues, which is the same standard we'd apply to WP:NEWSORG, e.g. we'd give less weight to "UFO News" than the NY Times for UFO sightings. But we don't disqualify the NY Times or The Nation for political information just because they have a particular bent. Mmy proposed wording doesn't state the conclusions of the study as fact, would it help if it were clearly attributed, e.g. " compared to outcomes in the journal Academic Questions found..." ? It seems close enough at least that we can iron out these particulars on the article page. José Antonio Zapato (talk) 21:46, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I reverted the addition of this paragraph in the first instance, on the basis that Academic Questions ("Though written mainly by scholars, it is a missionary journal, not a scholarly one") is not a reliable source. Now that I've done some research and read the Yancey paper, I realize that the paragraph should have been deleted because it's original research; the source doesn't support what it says. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 22:01, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
What part of my proposed paragraph is original research? Please be specific. Re: precieved bias, please see WP:BIASED which suggests at the most "in-text attribution." José Antonio Zapato (talk) 22:11, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
If there are no substantive objections to the proposed text I'll reinsert it. A peer-reviewed scholarly analysis improves the article. José Antonio Zapato (talk) 23:21, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
There have already been several objections, if you add this again without consensus, you are edit warring. Dave Dial (talk) 23:43, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
Arguments were made, I presented counter arguments then solicited substantive objections. Isn't that exactly how one establishes consensus? I don't see what I've written to deserve a threat. José Antonio Zapato (talk) 00:59, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that is how you establish consensus, and there is now established a fairly clear consensus here that your proposed addition is not acceptable. Besides the dubious and partisan nature of the journal in question, the other source supplied (The Blaze) is of similarly-dubious and highly-partisan nature, being effectively the media arm of a notable conservative pundit. We can and should seek better, more reliable and dispassionate sourcing. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 01:28, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Do you have specific objections to my proposed text (above)? I don't know why this conversation turned hostile. Maybe best to take a break. I will check back tomorrow, hopefully we can resume productive discussion? José Antonio Zapato (talk) 01:43, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Academic Questions is not a reliable source and even if it were the article expresses an opinion. If we did mention it we would have to say whose opinion it is, i,e., the opinion of defenders of groups the SPLC writes about and explain that it has little or no support in mainstream sources. Furthermore, the ideological jargon needs to translated into mainstream usage. "progressive academics and media organisations" means academics publishing in reliable sources and mainstream news media including mainstream conservative media such as Fox News. And the reference to "an entire class of people" that some left-wing groups "malign" are privileged economic classes. No serious sources equate them with minorities and significantly hate laws - and the criticism was the SPLC's use of the term hate - never includes left-wing groups, even ones that carry out terrorist attacks. José Antonio Zapato, I suppose the reason for the reaction is that you are trying to insert fringe views as facts. TFD (talk) 02:13, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Has anyone actually paid attention to the material or simply sought to eliminate it on the grounds they object to the source? As the article itself says, groups such as SPLC have not had critical analysis applied to them by academia, or very few at least. Unless somebody can supply an alternative reference this is probably the lone study of them available. To object to it because of perceived ideological differences is not NPOV!
As for The Blaze not being an acceptable source, if it is in fact a conservative publication, then it is entirely appropriate to use it IF the purpose is to establish what conservatives say about SPLC. NPOV has exceptions.
And as for the use of English, if anyone has problems with the spelling, phrasing, grammar ... adjust it. Wikipedia is supposed to be flexible! :-D (talk) 03:35, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
The question is, do we care about what The Blaze says, and are we giving undue weight to a fringe POV by including its claims? NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 04:39, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Is it a fringe source or a conservative source? You previously referenced it as conservative media. Shifting terms? Being Partisan is useful if it is reflective of the conservative position. (talk)
A left-wing group (SPLC) raises money by attacking right-wing groups. But if a scholarly journal points this out, then it must be stricken because the author might be a right-winger with an opinion. Is that the logic here? Roger (talk) 03:47, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Academic Questions is not a reliable source. If what you say is correct, we should be able to find plenty reliable sources to support these claims. - Cwobeel (talk) 03:51, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Roger I believe you are correct. Objections to AQ appears to be an solely motivated by ideological reasons - it fully complies with wp:npov and wp:nor. The article itself points out that organisations such as SPLC have rarely if ever been critically analysed by academics. If someone can provide an alternative source I'd be fascinated. My impression is that they don't exist but better no source than an academic promoting crimethink ;-) I'll hold off reverting for a bit in case someone can suggest an alternate source but I'm not expecting anyone to find anything. (talk)
Roger, it is not a "scholarly journal." It is a forum for views that cannot be published in scholarly journals. And you are equating apologists for hate groups with an organization that reports on them, which is a false parity. So the Ku Klux Klan is right-wing and Fox News is left-wing and we need to balance the views of both. TFD (talk) 15:06, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
From what I can see in this discussion, and the publishers page, it meets the peer reviewed requirements and publishing requirements to be considered a scholarly journal. --Kyohyi (talk) 17:03, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
It says in "Aims and Scope", "American higher education has been profoundly compromised in the past three decades. Standards have been eroded, the curriculum has been debased, and research has been trivialized or distorted by ideology." That certainly puts it outside mainstream academia. If it indeed is peer-reviewed that merely means that the facts are checked, but certainly does not elevate the opinions expressed into the mainstream. TFD (talk) 17:28, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Discussions about the journal should be taken to WP:RSN. It might be scholarly, but it's unclear if it's reliable. Until that's resolved, it doesn't belong in the article.
Are there no other RS that say the same thing? Why are we hellbent on using this one? EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 01:49, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Posted the question to WP:RSN. Will give it a couple of days. If no dispute there then it's likely that it's largely only those watching this page that have issues with the source. We'll see. Not sure whether it's simpler to link or quote if there are comments?
Oh, as to why use this source, it's possibly the sole scholarly analysis available - yes I'm aware most here dispute that claim. If it is indeed the sole analysis then it's not a matter of insisting on using this one as having found the single scholarly critique and folk here wishing to deny the inclusion of its findings. There is an interesting symmetry amongst the profiles of those doing the objecting. (talk)
Link to the discussion Australian IP started: Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Academic_Questions.3F
Honestly I don't think we need an academic source in this case, especially one from such a questionable source get it? Academic Questions is questionable? I slay me. I can see the desire to find a "neutral-but-credible" take on the issue, but perhaps something like the BBC or a Canadian source would provide a more neutral POV? The general lack of far-left groups on SPLC's lists is a fair critique (though I wonder how many are "hate" groups... is eco-terrorism hate-feuled?) and I see no reason not to include such a critique. Just need adequate sourcing and due weight. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 05:09, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Uh BBC is not neutral. Research has demonstrated most media organisations are left of centre - Fox is reportedly one of the few that may not be. I'm not sure whether BBC is left of centre or very left but I have an inkling I read something that suggested the latter, I'd have to do some research to be sure. From memory the Yancey article applied the SPLC hate criteria to one left wing Christophobic group that SPLC has somehow managed to avoid noticing. I'd have to revisit the material to see the details though. (talk)

Here is an analysis in Media Matters of Yancey's paper. TFD (talk) 15:41, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

Media matters is WP:NEWSBLOG (along the lines of Think Progress and NewsMax), lobbying and political action group. [1] [2] which makes no pretense to being an objective news org - for example they've called for boycotts of conservative personalities. Discrediting a WP:SCHOLARSHIP-compliant academic source with an iffy NEWSBLOG won't fly. Yancey at least is a professor of sociology. The author of the Media Matters critique appears to have no qualifications beyond his experience as an opinion columnist. José Antonio Zapato (talk) 16:44, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Agreed, the analysis isn't worth the paper it's not actually written on. I looked up the author - he's definitely a hardcore ideologue. More in the way of an attack piece than a scholarly critique.
As for the original source, I'm holding off summarizing the views given in the discussion on it's reliability. I had a brief look at the page and there seemed to be a fair few. I'll go through and break down the results in a few more days. There was a reference to a tool called researchgate as a basis for judging whether the original source has been cited much which was interesting. I've never heard of the site myself and it seems pretty specialized - field and country specific, so may be totally irrelevant. Something else to test out if the site's not too locked down. (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 14:28, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm not in favour of adding the paragraph. I'm against wording that tries to pigeonhole the SPLC as being a 'left-wing'/'liberal'/'progressive' group. In the polarised American political landscape, that tends to imply that the organisation is more politicised than it actually is. Much of the SPLC's work isn't that controversial. It just so happens that they sometimes irritate social conservatives, especially with their stance on gay rights and the rights of immigrants.
The fact that the SPLC spend more time attacking far-right groups than far-left groups isn't particularly surprising. The SPLC targets racism, homophobia and religion-based discrimination. These are not vices that we usually associate with left-wing politics. But neither are they inherently 'right-wing' vices. These days, you don't hear many stories about left-wing extremists in America, either. Anywikiuser (talk) 14:23, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Results from the Wikipedia:Reliable_sources discussion - it's been archived now so I guess the discussion's over. Six (whoops no seven) unique individuals commented, not including myself, some of whom posted multiple times. Two are definitely liberal\progressive the other five are unclear though I suspect a roughly equal split between progressive and conservative - it's rather hard to judge based on some user accounts. That being said one of the possible conservatives (Jose) has been blocked indefinitely as the account is purportedly that of a banned user. Three individuals reject the OS as unreliable - one strongly, two consider it reliable, and another two give qualified views - may not be sole source, should be attributed etc.

Here's the summarized version:
Qualified RS - statements should be attributed => EvergreenFir
Opposed - it's a missionary journal [Anyone able to explain what on Earth a missionary journal is?] => Stephan Schulz
Strongly opposed - recommends non-RS secondary source instead. => TFD
Support - attribute appropriately => José Antonio Zapato
Opposed - sole piece hasn't been cited, nor is it scholarly hence undue weight. Journal exists to promote 1 viewpoint. => MastCell
Articles don't get cited until other articles are written on the same topic. => José Antonio Zapato
Insignificant - no impact on ResearchGate => Stephan Schulz
ResearchGate irelevant - it caters primarily to hard sciences. => José Antonio Zapato
Journal publishes non-mainstream papers. Bias isn't important but is the source relevant? => TFD
Agnostic - Should not assume article is sole source => Liz
Yes it's a reliable source but discussion about use should be on SPLC page => RightCowLeftCoast

As an aside, while ResearchGate proved interesting it appears to be very ad hoc with it's inclusion of professional magazines. I checked a couple I know of - only one was listed and that had a negligible impact. And those academics I looked up had less of an impact than the OS author. Also, while Liz may be correct that the OS is not the sole source analysing SPLC, or at least about SPLC, no other sources have been suggested despite encouragement. (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 04:04, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Just commenting on a question of yours, "It's sponsored by the National Association of Scholars, a conservative advocacy group, and, according to our own article (which referents the Times Literary Supplement) "is a missionary journal, not a scholarly one". I'd treat it with extreme care. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 8:37 am, 17 April 2015, Friday (16 days ago) (UTC+1)" I guess the TLS might be the place to look but to me the term is another word for advocacy. Dougweller (talk) 12:15, 3 May 2015 (UTC)


This is my update of a portion of the lede. Much of the editing was typographical/copyedits. The substantive changes were in the lede, so let's read carefully. (BTW: I was re-editing when I hit an edit conflict from the last editor, and I had an extensive edit summary):
In 1971, [[Morris Dees]] and Joseph J. Levin Jr. founded the SPLC as a civil rights law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama.<ref name="CNNpioneer">{{Cite news|url=|title=Attorney Morris Dees pioneer in using 'damage litigation' to fight hate groups|publisher=CNN|date=September 8, 2000|accessdate=2007-08-17|archiveurl=|archivedate=June 18, 2006}}</ref> Civil rights leader [[Julian Bond]] joined Dees and Levin and served as president of the board between 1971 and 1979.<ref>Dees, Morris, and Steve Fiffer. ''A Season For Justice''. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (1991), pp. 132-133.<!-- ISBN needed --></ref> The SPLC's litigating strategy involves filing civil suits for damages on behalf of reported victims of hate group harassment, threats, and violence, with the goal of financially depleting the responsible groups and individuals. While it originally focused on damages done by the [[Ku Klux Klan]] and other white supremacist groups, as those groups have declined in influence, the Center became involved in other civil rights causes, among them, cases regarding allegations of institutional racial segregation and discrimination, discrimination based on [[sexual orientation]], mistreatment of [[Alien (law)|aliens]], and the [[separation of church and state]]. Along with civil rights organizations such as the [[Anti-Defamation League]] (ADL), the SPLC has provided information about hate groups to the [[Federal Bureau of Investigation]] (FBI).<ref>{{cite book|title=Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance|page=32|first=George|last=Michael|publisher=Vanderbilt University Press|year=2012|isbn=0826518559}}</ref> The SPLC has been criticized by conservative politicians and media, and by organizations that have been listed as hate groups in their reports.<ref>[ Mission creep and the SPLC],; accessed May 6, 2015.</ref><ref>[ SPLC becoming increasingly distracted],; accessed May 6, 2015.</ref><ref>[ SPLC: the wolf who cried hate],; accessed May 6, 2015.</ref><ref>[ SPLC's lucrative hate group label],, August 2012; accessed May 6, 2015.</ref> Although the SPLC continues to work with the FBI, the bureau removed the Center as an official source from its Hate Crimes webpage. The SPLC declined to comment.<ref>[ FBI website],; accessed May 6, 2015.</ref><ref>[ FBI dumps SPLC as hate crime watchdog partner],; accessed May 6, 2015.</ref>
Quis separabit? 19:25, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
  • If it was an edit conflict, I retract my accusation about the misleading edit summary. But my objections to the portion removed remain. Also, you removed the sourced link to National Geographic, how can someone 'CN' for a source that was removed entirely? I found many results for the episode, including an archived link and their YouTube link. In any case, sorry about the accusation, but please make changes incrementally and for controversial changes, the Talk page would be better to gain consensus. Thanks. Dave Dial (talk) 19:32, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Let me check what happened with the National Geographic link; I only rv links and replace them with {{cn}} if they are clearly dead or invalid. I then try to find a replacement link or links. Let me check what you are stating. I'll be back. Yours, Quis separabit? 19:55, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
OK, as per this diff, the link was deadlink tagged. But I checked and this link is not dead. Sorry for any inconvenience. However, more to the point, I am glad you object to what was removed, not to what was added or reworded. Could you review the above lede as I propse rewriting it and let me know what you think, i.e. if it's OK, or, if not, how I can fix it. Thanks. Quis separabit? 20:02, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Unless you have a reliable source for the FBI removal, it doesn't even belong in the article, let alone the lede. Wikipedia policy is that we can only include what is supported by reliable sources. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 20:47, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

The source is provided ( and please don't tell me it is not RS because you don't like its politics. Actually, I think I can update it to both of our satisfaction:
The FBI removed ("scrubbed") website links to the SPLC on its Hate Crimes webpage but continues to list the Center as an Outreach Partner.<ref>[]</ref><ref>[]</ref>
Quis separabit? 21:44, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
I also object to that portion. The piece by the Washington Examiner (which is questionable as reliable sources go),makes assumptions based on political advocacy and does not report the facts. The FBI stated they just have a new policy about putting links to other organizations on the page. So either entry you've suggested is incorrect and just political. Dave Dial (talk) 22:40, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
OK, fair enough, back to the drawing board. Quis separabit? 01:53, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Since the writer of the story in the Washington Examiner is billed as a columnist, his story does not meet rs. Also, neutrality means we should not be reporting stories that have been noticed in only obscure sources. Also, as pointed out in Media Matters, the story is false.[3] TFD (talk) 02:53, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

SPLC criticized for wildly inflating their list of hate groups[edit]

Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League has criticized the SPLC for wildly inflating their list of hate groups. This is a person who the SPLC has interviewed, held up as an expert, and quoted in the past. Link

"The SPLC's registry of hate groups isn't without its critics.

According to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at that Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the SPLC has a habit of counting single individuals as groups or chapters, which can give a skewed impression of hate groups in any given state.

As an example, he noted that the American Front racist skinhead group largely fell apart in 2012 and 2013, after its leaders were arrested in Florida. Since then, its presence in New Jersey and other places has been virtually nonexistent, he said.

"The Southern Poverty Law Center's list is wildly inflated," said Pitcavage. "They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it's just a couple of individuals."LinkPutanotherway (talk) 05:24, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

I'm not seeing the Black Panthers listed on this page. Was this an oversight? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:57, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
I think this is the page you're looking for. It includes the New Black Panther Party. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 00:29, 30 June 2015 (UTC)


That word as multiple meanings. Better to use a common word. - Cwobeel (talk) 13:54, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

I assume this was handled in the dispute a week or so ago? I cannot find any additional instances of the word "alien" in the article, so... Dustin (talk) 15:09, 29 June 2015 (UTC)