May 25, 2007


The American Liberal Liberties Union: The ACLU is becoming very selective about what it considers "free" speech. (WENDY KAMINER, May 23, 2007, Opinion Journal)

"ACLU Defends Nazi's Right to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters," the humor magazine The Onion announced in 1999. Those of us who loved the ACLU, and celebrated its willingness to defend the rights of Nazis and others who had no regard for our rights, considered the joke a compliment. Today it's more like a reproach. Once the nation's leading civil liberties group and a reliable defender of everyone's speech rights, the ACLU is being transformed into just another liberal human-rights group that reliably defends the rights of liberal speakers.

Ms Kaminer's need to believe that it is the ACLU that changed rather than she is understandable, if risible. Of course, having moved Right she now gets the joke.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 25, 2007 11:02 AM

I've told OJ this story before: When I was in law school, I participated in an appellate advocacy clinic taught by the then legal director of the ACLU (who was also a professor at my school). In her office (where the class met), she had a large poster celebrating the Bill of Rights which the ACLU had produced and distributed to public jr. high and high schools throughout the country. After looking at the poster for half a semester, something hit me, and without thinking I interrupted the class and called out "Hey, aren't there 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights?" The professor, not realizing I had been daydreaming about the poster gave me an odd look and said "of course there are." And I pointed to the poster and said, "but there are only 9 up there. Why did you leave out the Second Amendment?" I'm still waiting for an answer 20 years later.

Posted by: Foos at May 25, 2007 12:41 PM

I've gotten into trouble asking, "Just what are the Civil Liberties?" The answer usually boils down to "Whatever we say they are."

Posted by: Bryan at May 25, 2007 1:26 PM

Bryan, try asking an Episcopalian bishop exactly what is 'social justice'. I've heard the results are most entertaining.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 25, 2007 4:20 PM


You can do that with a ton of other terms as well, then sit back and watch the fun.

According to Thomas Sowell, conservatives characterize words like "justice" and "equality" as a rule-following process while liberals characterize them as an end result. The latter naturally means that all sorts of means are justified to achieve them, while the former obviously means more precise definitions of processes.

That's why conservatives are totally talking past liberals whenever we point out, for example, that prisoners of war have never had habeas corpus rights and why the heck are we proposing giving them to terrorist savages when they could come back and kill us? Liberals think all sorts of things are possible and one outcome doesn't truly affect the other. They don't think in terms of trade-offs but rather of wish fulfillment.

That's why it's so funny to ask them what precisely their terminology means. They don't think that far ahead.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 25, 2007 5:14 PM

They're Marxists, which means that they are liars and cheats. They hold that truth, honesty, consistency--all that sort of thing--are naught but bourgiouse affectations, worth less than nothing.

Their defending Nazis was just a ploy, a deception. The Nazis were not serious opponents to the Communists. Defending them did Communism no harm and bolstered the credibility of the ACLU.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 25, 2007 10:15 PM