Unethical Website of the Month: The Florida Family Association

"Hey, wait---where are the terrorists?"

Organized bigotry is un-American, and organized bigotry under the banner of American values is misrepresentation. That’s what can be found on the Florida Family Association website here, as it simultaneously engages in several of Ethics Alarms’ most deplored conduct: bias, dishonestly accusing others of bias, bullying, boycotting, and worst of all having success at bullying and boycotting. I suppose I should add to that list making its readers stupid, because its arguments will do that too.

The Florida Family Association is offended by The Learning Channel’s latest reality show, “All-American Muslim,” which shows American citizens who happen to be Muslims pretty much living, acting and sounding like you and me, except when they are practicing their religion. I think it is, unlike most TLC series, an excellent idea. American attitudes toward  Muslims since September 11, 2001 are substantially based on ignorance, the kissing cousin of bigotry and the mother of fear. Learning more about American Muslims can only be beneficial to all, but The Florida Family Association views the program as a plot:

“The Learning Channel’s new show ‘All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

This logic, to be precise, is idiotic. It is the logic of comments on Ethics Alarms that often cause me to violate my own declared principles of civility, the logic regularly used by Media Matters to criticize any media report critical of the left, and the logic less frequently but still too often used by Newsbusters to attack media reports critical of the right. The theory, fatuous and manipulative, goes like this: if you show say something positive about someone or something we don’t like, then you are obligated to show or say something, or perhaps everything, negative about them at the same time. If you criticize one of our people for something, you are biased and dishonest if you do not point out that our adversaries do the same thing or worse. I call it the Zealot’s Balance Delusion, or ZBD for short.

The Zealot’s Balance Delusion arises from the zealot’s mindset that everything in ideological combat, and nobody is allowed to be objective, an observer, uncommitted or unallied to one side or the other. Thus saying anything good about some group’s adversary, real or imagined, is seen as an act of ideological war, and intended as such. One is not allowed to portray positive images of an “enemy” without taking equal time to show negative images. But you see, this is an impossible standard, and one that dictates a lockstep approach to documentaries, news stories and blog posts. Exploring one aspect of a story does not suggest or assert that another side doesn’t exist. Showing how the vast majority of American Muslims live does not imply that there aren’t dangerous radical Islamic extremists domestically and abroad.  “The Cosby Show,” about an upper middle class black family where both parents were successful professionals did not white-wash the problems of poor black Americans or seek to pretend they don’t exist. And when I write that Newt Gingrich is untrustworthy, my choice not to balance the discussion with similar criticism of Barack Obama does not make my post unbalanced or deceptive. The post isn’t about Obama. “The Cosby Show” wasn’t about inner city crime, and the TLC’s “All-American Muslim” isn’t about terrorists or Sharia law, and that’s perfectly all right. If you want to focus on another angle, write your own blog post. Produce your own TV show.

Every show, article and opinion doesn’t have to cover everything about its main topic…particularly when most  expositions of that main topic have concentrated on a different aspect of it.  Bill Cosby launched “The Cosby Show” because most of the portrayal of black families in the entertainment media were negative, and he felt, correctly, that balance was needed. “All-American Muslim” supplies similar balance for  Muslim-Americans. But ZBD insists that these legitimate efforts at balance must themselves be “balanced” by including the negative portrayals that created the need for balance in the first place.

Like I said—idiotic. And also unfair.

But the conservative Florida Family Association has a lot of members, and there are a lot of cowards in corporate boardrooms these days. Thus an e-mail campaign aimed at threatening boycotts of advertisers on the TLC show has been successful, apparently persuading 3M (Command, Scotchbrand tape), Airborne Vitamin, Amway, Anheuser Busch Inbev (Select55), Art Instruction Schools, Bamboozles, Bank of America (Cash Rewards), Bare Escentuals, Brother International (Ptouch), Campbell’s Soup, Capital One, Church & Dwight (Oxi Clean, Arm & Hammer), City Furniture, Conagra (Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes), Corinthian Colleges (Everst411), Cotton, Inc., Cumberland Packing (Sweet’N Low), Dell computers, Diamond Foods (Kettlebrand Chips), Estee Lauder (Clinique), ET Browe (Palmer’s Cocoa butter), Gap, General Motors (Chevy Runs Deep), Good Year, Green Mountain Coffee, Guthy Renker , Hershey, Home Depot, Honda North America, HTC Phones, Ikea, JC Penney, JP Morgan Chase, Kellogg, Koa Brands, Leapfrog Enterprise, Mars, McDonald’s, Nationwide Insurance, News Corp, Nintendo, Novartis, Old Navy, Pernod Ricard, Petsmart, Pier One, Pfizer,, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, Prudential Financial, Radio Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, SC Johnson, Sears , Signet, Sonic Drive-ins, Subaru, T-Mobil, Toyota, Volkswagen, Vtech , Wal-Mart and Whirlpool  not to advertise on December’s episodes.

“Florida Family Association has not experienced this strong of a response on any other issue during the past 23 years,” the website crows. Well, that’s just wonderful, isn’t it? It’s heartening to know that the efforts of bigots to pressure principle-challenged executives to support the suppression of communications, information and speech are more successful than ever, and that being an advocate for intolerance and hate is a thriving occupation.

47 thoughts on “Unethical Website of the Month: The Florida Family Association

  1. Life is unfair………and no one ever claimed that it would not be…….get over it and move on………thats what christians did when prayer was removed from our schools………….

    • So that makes it OK, then. Right. Please see “everybody does it” in the Rationalizations section. “Life is unfair” is a statement of fact (and a banal one), not an excuse to shrug off every unethical act. Congratulations…you convinced me to add this to the Rationalizations list. This is like “It is what it is,” a substitute for reason, judgment, and action.

    • Hey, you [REDACTED], it also used to be perfectly normal to openly discriminate against blacks. You know why that changed? Because people realized that was unfair, and actually did something about it.

    • The most entertaining part of this comment is that it wasn’t unfair for prayer to be removed from schools. It was unfair that it was there in the first place.

    • It never ceases to amaze me how xenophobic, hateful, and dicriminatatory when talk about another group not our own. I grew up in the 60’s, and remember all too well how we hated the blacks, and hated to let them have a voice in society, so we terrorized them for being who they were. Guess that is your vision of ” free speech” too, huh? you know- the burning crosses?But, it hasn’t been that long since women got the right to vote, either. We all can’t be as holy as these “family-friendly” organizations.because then we would have to hate someone else. Such godly love being shown, I don’t want it. If you want your children to pray, do what the Bible says-Bring them up yourself, in your view of religion, and leave them alone.

  2. I heard some people want to stop shopping at Lowe’s because of this, but I didn’t know there were so many sponsors who dropped out. When corporate cowardice is THIS widespread, it seems like a boycott is the wrong way to go about it (unless we can demonstrate that there’s more people in support of this show than these morons have at their command).

  3. I was sickened when I learned about the hate group Florida Family Association. I am even more sickened to learn that all of these companies have succumbed to their threats. I hope someone looks into the background of David Caton, the groups founder. He appears to have adapted tactics similar to those that brought Hitler to power in the 1930’s.

  4. The list of persuaded sponsors is just a list of advertisers who stopped buying time in later episodes. Sponsors drop shows all the time — it might not be a very good show, for all I know — and organizations like FFA love to puff themselves up by claiming to have more power and support than they really do. Don’t take their word for it.

    • Very good point. (It’s an OK show—it certainly isn’t propaganda.) Check-out the Popehat link in the comments. It is pretty clear that Lowe’s has dropped its sponsorship in response to the association’s threats. The rest—you’re right. It could be for many other reasons.

  5. I am ashamed by Christians and Americans that advocate such stereotypical views! It is unamerican! I am often suspicious of groups that push this ideology. I understand there are parts of Islam that are radical. Their are people who choose to be ignorant. So be it.

    • I agree with you 100% about the radical extreamist. There are extreamist in every walk of life. Includubg the AWESOME CHRISTIANS of the FFA.
      I just want to express my DISGUST to the so called “Christians” in the Florida Family Association. How can they call themselves CHRISTIANS and call for everyone to promote HATRED towards another religion. Our great country was founded on religious freedom and these people want to condemn these people strictly for their beliefs. The people that are attacking these people for there beliefs and NO BETTER than the people that attacked our great country on Dec 11th, 2001.
      I’m not normally one to respond to reports in the news. I just can’t sit quietly by let these people spread their propaganda freely. I’m sure FFA has plenty of the people that clam to be pro-life yet endorse the death penalty.
      Anyway I just wanted to say thank you for not putting the FFA spin on your article
      Thank You
      David A. Lomax
      Charleston , WV. 225387

  6. Do not those Muslims share much of the same family values as the Florida Family Association.

    It is a lot of many of those gay activist groups who called for a boycott of Target, which had supported gay rights in the past, merely because they donated money to a committee that endorsed an anti-equality gubernatorial candidate (nevermind that the committee in question endorsed pro-equality candidates as well).

  7. Pingback: Christian Fascists Get Lowes To Cut Advertising To Reality Show | Hoogly Boogly

  8. Apparently, the article criticizing the show was written by Pamela Geller, which brings up another question: why would an organization with “family” in its name ever want to be associated with someone who has defended Slobodan Milosevic?

  9. Good for LOWES!!! This show makes me physically ill and it should EVERY red-blooded American! If anyone doesn’t think “TLC’S ALL AMERICAN MUSLIM” (a contradiction in terms) is propaganda and dangerous, think again! That’s what muslims do. They infiltrate, then take-over! Their religion teaches them that ALL non-believers WILL be killed! In 20 short years there will be enough of them in the U.S. to elect OUR President! If THIS doesn’t scare everyone to death, nothing will!

    YOU are the idiots! NOT Lowe’s! This company is only speaking for millions of us who feel the same way about this show. Complacency and “political correctness” will be our downfall in the future. For Christ’s sake, OPEN YOUR EYES people, before it is too late!!!

    • Even accepting the widest range of opinion on this topic—and I think Jane’s particular one is redolent of hate, ignorance, bigotry and hysteria…but I digress—there is no way “good for Lowe’s” makes any sense whatsoever, ethically or otherwise. Lowe’s decision wasn’t based on “good” or seeking to do “good”; it was motivated by a cold-blooded calculation, and a dumb one, in my opinion. If it sponsored the show because it supports Muslim Americans, pulling that support because of a bigot’s threats is craven and indefensible. If it agreed with the bigots but sponsored the program to make its market think otherwise, then pulled the ad when it appeared to the company that it had misread its mandate, then the company is hypocritical, dishonest and cynical. If it’s sincere support was wiped out by the mere fact of an organized group asserting otherwise, then Lowe is feckless and untrustworthy. In fact, there is no combination of circumstances that could possibly justify any rational analyst to conclude “Goo for Lowe’s.”

      But then, as should be obvious by the tenor of her comment, Jane is not a rational analyst.

        • Yes Jane and you’re intitled to yours no matter HOW HATE FILLED IT MAYBE. I’m sure the Puritans felt that way about the Catholics , I know the Catholics feel that way about the baptist and so on and so on and so on. But Jane rush right out and buy yourself the biggest gun you can tote. And you jus feel free to shoot all them there muslims for they take your Kuntry away . K Love ya girl really I do ! See ya in hell when I get there cause I’m one those FAGS that you people are scard might turn your husbands and childern gay if we get married!!!!!

          • Dave,I’m a Christian and I don’t hate you. You are a beautiful human being and have just as much right,as does anyone living in the country,to life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or any country for that matter.Doesn’t matter what yours or anyone else’s lifestyle is. I just wanted to let you know if they come for you I won’t be with them,I’ll be with you.

        • Boy, I hate that cliche! 1) It’s gratuitously vulgar without compensating wisdom; 2) It’s a bumper sticker, and people who think bumper stickers are real arguments are the cause of much of the world’s problems; 3) It’s a version of “everybody does it”—the fact that there are a lot of stupid, uninformed opinions doesn’t mean stupid, uninformed opinions are useful, justified, or excusable (not to imply that your opinion in this case is stupid and uninformed, though it pretty much is) 4) But mostly, I hate it because its is a straight line with so many nasty rejoinders, all of which you deserve but none of which meet the standards of civility I have pledged to uphold.

    • Good for LOWES!!! This show makes me physically ill and it should EVERY red-blooded American! If anyone doesn’t think “TLC’S ALL AMERICAN MUSLIM” (a contradiction in terms) is propaganda and dangerous, think again! That’s what muslims do. They infiltrate, then take-over! Their religion teaches them that ALL non-believers WILL be killed! In 20 short years there will be enough of them in the U.S. to elect OUR President! If THIS doesn’t scare everyone to death, nothing will!

      If I remember correctly, similar things were said about Catholics in the 19th century.

  10. I have Muslim friends whom I know are good people but to deny that there are radical Islamists just because most Muslims are good people doesn’t make sense. Should we ignore radicals and their agenda just because most of their race,religion,or whatever doesn’t kill,maim or desire world domination? On the other hand,we shouldn’t paint all Muslims as terrorists either. Seems to me there are two camps: Those who deny militants and those who think everyone is militant. Both are wrong. Incidentally,we can thank our government for all the fear and hate directed at ALL Muslims.

    • Should we ignore radicals and their agenda just because most of their race,religion,or whatever doesn’t kill,maim or desire world domination?

      No, but when was the last time you heard of Christian terrorists or Jewish terrorists?

      Seems to me there are two camps: Those who deny militants and those who think everyone is militant.

      Straw man. Who denies that some muslims are terrorists?

      Incidentally,we can thank our government for all the fear and hate directed at ALL Muslims.

      For all his faults, Bush was very clear that we weren’t fighting a war with Islam. You should be blaming the reactionaries who see this as just another crusade.

      • I’m glad I caught myself before responding to your reply. After reading it twice I see that we don’t think so differently. There are deffinantly two extreamly differant camps.
        But you’re right we can’t put our heads in the sand pretending all people are innocent until proven guilty just because that’s our legal system. We have all the right to become terrorist ourselves and inprison people just because we’re affraid.
        But we’re the most power country in the world why not take away everyone elses civil liberties.
        Because they MIGHT hurt us.

        I agree we need to be figulant and prepare for the worst, but we DO NOT have the right to hold innocent men for over 10 years in prison w/o even giving them legal counsel. Who are living with the most terror. I believe we’re still free to walk the streets, and respond to websites like this one. And yes that is because we protect ourselve the way we do. But I still find it sickening that we think we’re above the law. Hell we broke so many of the rules of war when we went to IRAQ chasing Saddam because G. Bush Sr didn’t get him.

        Anyway, you are right about different camps. We have the right to disagree.

        • I’m missing something here. I didn’t mean you should assume all of a particular group are guilty by association. What I meant was that even though,say,most Muslims are peaceful doesn’t mean we should ignore or deny those Muslims who are terrorists. And there are people who do bend over backwards trying to downplay that. I suppose the reasoning is to try and prevent people from seeing all Muslims as terrorists,which some do tend toward.

          • I see this is at me now, so I’ll take it.

            I agree with everything, except for “And there are people who do bend over backwards trying to downplay that [some muslims are terrorists].”

            I think that those people you talk about are pretty much nonexistent. How many people say no muslims are terrorists? The way I see it, the sides are split this way:
            * Muslims are terrorists
            * There are terrorists who are muslim, but muslims in general are not terrorists.

            • I’m with you on this, but I think you are wrong about the number of people who argue that whether a terrorist is a Muslim or not is irrelevant to his act of terrorism. Michale Moore is a prime example, and this was also the crux of the Whoopi and Joy Behar walk-out on Bill O’Reilly on The View. There are terrorists who are Muslim and are terrorists because they are Muslim. That is what people like Moore deny. They argue that 9-11 was a criminal act, not an ideological. political, religious act. It is akin to arguing that the terrorism of the IRA had nothing to do with the fact that they were Irish and Catholic. Yet we do hear that argument, in high places. I’d say the split is:

              * Muslims are terrorists
              * There are terrorists who are Muslim and who are terrorists because of the brand of Islam that they practice, but Muslims in general are not terrorists.
              * Some terrorists have happened to be Muslim, but their religion had no more to do with their terrorism than their choice of aftershave.

              The first is bigoted and stupid. The last is dishonest and stupid.

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