Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This Is Not Your Father's ACLU

Here are the first and last paragraphs of a great piece from

"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.

This is not the same organization that once took pride in its costly, principled decision to defend the rights of neo-Nazis to march in a community of Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Ill. Of course the ACLU hasn't definitively abandoned its defense of speech: Large, national organizations change incrementally. But people should no longer depend on the ACLU to defend what they preach (especially at a cost), if it disapproves of what they practice.


Tony said...

An excellent article and a fair critique. I volunteer for the Maine CLU and I have forwarded this link to its staff to get their perspectives. Like any human organization, the current ACLU tends to be colored by the personalities of its leaders. But it is also true that the organization is meant to protect the Constitution, not particular political opinions. I don't set the agenda since I'm not very high up in the organization, but nonetheless, I'll see what I can do.

Darren said...

I hope they listen, but honestly, I won't hold my breath.