Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes filed legal suit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Monday, accusing the organization of “defamation and other tortious acts resulting in reputational and economic damages,” according to a press release.
McInnes left Vice in 2008 over creative differences with fellow co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi. The company did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.
“I, Gavin McInnes, formerly of every job I’ve ever had, am announcing, as of today, a lawsuit against the SPLC. They have harassed me, my family, and my friends to a level of tortious interference that goes well into sabotage,” the right-wing talk show host said in a statement, accompanying the suit.
“The SPLC has gone from a noble institution genuinely dedicated to eradicating hate to a hate group in and of itself that pretends this country is frothing with bigots desperate to foment WW3,” he added.
The suit accuses the liberal watchdog group of using its influence to fuel calls to have him banned or “deplatformed” from websites like Twitter, Facebook and Paypal — thus hurting his ability to earn a living.
“SPLC’s campaign against Mr. McInnes is arguably the most successful employment of its system to personally destroy those it disagrees with, but who in fact is not an extremist, on ideological grounds,” it reads.
McInnes accused SPLC of “using this incredible wealth to wield power over the innocent and destroy careers and businesses in their insatiable need to generate more bigots because, in the world of SPLC fundraising, mo hate is mo money.”
In a statement to TheWrap, SPLC Richard Cohen said his organization remained undeterred and called McInnes’s suit “meritless.”
“To paraphrase FDR, judge us by the enemies we’ve made. Gavin McInnes has a history of making inflammatory statements about Muslims, women, and the transgender community,” Cohen said. “The fact that he’s upset with SPLC tells us that we’re doing our job exposing hate and extremism. His case is meritless.”
The SPLC is most well-known for their list of U.S. “hate groups” which is extensively cited by domestic U.S news organizations. The group had long accused McInnes and his “Proud Boys” of being extremists and point to members who participated in the Unite The Right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, as proof.
Despite its storied history of fighting discrimination during the Civil Rights era, the organization has become a polarizing force in recent years, as critics like McInnes argue it presents an unfair portrait of domestic extremist organizations.