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Author Topic: ACLU thoughts
MattP
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Good, evil, necessary evil? I'm curious what people think about this organization. I hear a lot of negative comments, but seldom anything specific. I'm interested more in specific cases they have taken on than in broad claims about their motivation or purpose.

I have a generally positive impression of the ACLU, but I certainly don't have exhaustive knowledge of their activities.

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Colin JM0397
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Thanks, Matt.

I have what I'll call a neutral opinion. I like some of what they do, while other things get on my nerves.

I don't have evidence handy, so I'll leave it at that for now.

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Storm Saxon
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Leaving aside specialty groups like EFF, The Liberty Council, etc, is there an organization that is better about protecting general civil liberties than the ACLU?
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Dave at Work
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I don't consider the ACLU to be an anything evil. It is a great organization for protecting the general civil liberties of the American population. I do feel that in the area of their aparent crusade against religion they are misguided, but otherwise They are a great organization.
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MattP
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The ACLU has represented religious individuals/organizations in several cases, so it doesn't seem that they are strictly anti-religious. Their establishment clause cases just seem to get more press than their free exercise clause cases. The "War on Christmas" is a sexier phrase than "The War to Make Schools Allow Religious Clubs and Student-Organized Prayers"
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simplybiological
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Regarding the religion thing, many organizations invoke Christian morals and rhetoric to condemn same-sex marriage and abortion and the like; defending those issues is necessarily going to appear like an attack on religion when I don't think that's the ultimate goal...
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Everard
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"I do feel that in the area of their aparent crusade against religion they are misguided, but otherwise They are a great organization."

Agree with matt and simplybio's responses to this.

Worth noting that there's a difference between "We don't like religion," or "we are crusading against religion," and the ACLU's position which seems to be "Religion and government shouldn't mix."

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Daruma28
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Their defense of NAMBLA is the best of example of why so many people revile the ACLU.

If you haven't heard, NAMBLA stands for:

North American Man Boy Love Association

An organization who's sole purpose is to erase age of consent laws so that adult men can get it on with pre-pubescent boys.

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Everard
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"Their defense of NAMBLA is the best of example of why so many people revile the ACLU."

Yup. So many people only want the constitution to "protect people like me."

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MattP
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They've probably also represented the KKK and some neo-Nazis as well.

The right to free speech doesn't tend to need protection when you're saying things that everyone agrees with.

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moodi
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quote:
Originally posted by Daruma28:

Their defense of NAMBLA is the best of example of why so many people revile the ACLU.

Are we talking here about a no-age-limit kind of relationship?
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MattP
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quote:
Are we talking here about a no-age-limit kind of relationship?
As far as I know, NAMBLA advocates sexual relationships between boys and men of any age.

Ths ACLU's statement on the NAMBLA case:

quote:
NEW YORK--In the United States Supreme Court over the past few years, the American Civil Liberties Union has taken the side of a fundamentalist Christian church, a Santerian church, and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. In celebrated cases, the ACLU has stood up for everyone from Oliver North to the National Socialist Party. In spite of all that, the ACLU has never advocated Christianity, ritual animal sacrifice, trading arms for hostages or genocide. In representing NAMBLA today, our Massachusetts affiliate does not advocate sexual relationships between adults and children.

What the ACLU does advocate is robust freedom of speech for everyone. The lawsuit involved here, were it to succeed, would strike at the heart of freedom of speech. The case is based on a shocking murder. But the lawsuit says the crime is the responsibility not of those who committed the murder, but of someone who posted vile material on the Internet. The principle is as simple as it is central to true freedom of speech: those who do wrong are responsible for what they do; those who speak about it are not.

It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive. That was true when the Nazis marched in Skokie. It remains true today.


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Daruma28
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It is illegal to incite criminal activity. If I wrote a letter telling you to go and kill yourself by jumping off of the Empire State Building, and you did so, and the authorities had my letter, they could very well charge me as culpable.

Well, the NAMBLA website gave explicit instructions to would-be pedophiles on how to lure young boys into situations where they could be molested, and also offered tips and advice on how to cajole, threaten and other tactics on how to ensure that the child doesn't tell his parents or anyone else about the pedophiles molestations.

So the parents of a young boy that was kidnapped, raped and murdered sought to sue NAMBLA for inciting the behavior.

You can't yell fire in a crowded theatre and than be absolved from the resulting deaths or injuries from the stampede under the claim of free speech.

But if one were to actually yell "FIRE" in a crowded theatre, and a bunch of little children were trampled to death, I'm sure the ACLU would defend the moron for exercising their free speech rights.... [Roll Eyes]

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Everard
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http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=18029
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MattP
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quote:
You can't yell fire in a crowded theatre and than be absolved from the resulting deaths or injuries from the stampede under the claim of free speech.
No, but you could say that you would like to burn the theater down, and even publish instructions for effectively doing so.
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Daruma28
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Ahh well - no need to re-argue this whole thing - look in the archives, I believe Ev and I and a few others already went a few rounds over this topic.

You wanted to know some people view the ACLU in a negative light and than said you've never seen anyone give specific reasons.

Well, though you disagree, I did give you a specific reason as to why I and others may have a negative view of the ACLU.

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moodi
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I was watching this comic show the other day. A student calls the ACLU complaining that his high school censures the school's weekly paper.

The ACLU representative replies, "That is insane. The school board is practically pissing on the American flag.... which was the subject of a court case I defended last week!"

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by Daruma28:
Ahh well - no need to re-argue this whole thing - look in the archives, I believe Ev and I and a few others already went a few rounds over this topic.

You wanted to know some people view the ACLU in a negative light and than said you've never seen anyone give specific reasons.

Well, though you disagree, I did give you a specific reason as to why I and others may have a negative view of the ACLU.

I appreciate that, thank you.
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hobsen
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Thanks to MattP for publishing an ACLU statement on the NAMBLA case. It contains an amusing historical error: the Nazis never marched in Skokie. So it seems the ACLU has forgotten its own history.

In that celebrated case, a Nazi group had been denied permission to hold a march in Chicago. So they decided to hold it in Skokie, a community with 70,000 inhabitants of which an estimated 40,000 were Jewish. The municipal government passed several ordinances intended to stop such a march, but after several years of legal wrangling lost its last appeal and issued a permit for the march. At that point Chicago offered to allow the Nazis to march there, which is what they did.

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Richard Dey
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The stated aim of the ACLU is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."

I don't know that they've ever done anything else.

The malodor of its founding comes from Roger Baldwin who was a Communist; in 1940, however, Baldwin banned Communists from the ACLU management for supporting totalitarianism -- and urged Communists to cease any and all support of the movement. My own grandmother refused to marry Baldwin because he was a communist, but not because of anything he advocated.

Just what, then, does the ACLU "advocate"?

¶ It defends the individual right of Americans of all religions to practice and/or display affirmations of their faith in public, but not on public property with government sponsorship or endorsement. I agree.

¶ It advocates the separation of church and state -- and opposes government-sponsored display of religious symbols on public property, official prayers and religious ceremonies in public schools or schools funded with public money. I agree.

¶ It advocates full freedom of speech and of the press -- including school newspapers and papers produced by individuals in public programs (which Action for Boston Community Development specifically tried to circumvent in 1965 by firing staff who allowed children to publish things it didn't like!); I agree with the ACLU on this matter.

¶ The ACLU supports the right to use contraception and to have an abortion, full civil rights for gay people including government benefits for homosexual couples equal to those provided for heterosexual ones. I agree.

¶ The ACLU approves of "affirmative action" as a means of redressing past discrimination and achieving a racially diverse student body. I disagree.

¶ The ACLU defends the rights of defendants and suspects against unconstitutional police practices. I strongly agree.

¶ The ACLU supports the decriminalization of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana. I agree.

¶ It support the the American tradition that the government not track individuals or violate privacy unless it has evidence of wrongdoing. I agree.

¶ The ACLU supports immigrants' rights by "challenging unconstitutional laws and practices, countering the myths upon which many of these laws are based. I have no idea what it's talking about.

So, of its 9 primary purposes, I disagree with 1/9 and have no idea what the 9th is about. Cripes, I don't even agree with 88% of the platform of The Libertarian Party! I'd say, I support the ACLU -- most particularly in its support of disenfranchised youth.

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TCB
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What the ACLU understands that many people don't is that when and if the government starts taking away ordinary citizens' rights, it will start by taking away the rights of groups that are feared and hated. In America today the most feared group is terrorists, and the most hated group is child molestors. Almost no one is willing to defend such evil people. The ACLU defends them, but they're also indirectly defending anyone with strange viewpoints (like probably most of the people on this board).
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Jesse
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I'm actually glad they took the NAMBLA case.

Not because I support NAMBLA, or believe they have a right to instruct pedophiles on how to perform crimes and promote performing those crimes while they are still illegal (If that happened...I ain't going to their site to check).

I do support NAMLA's right to argue for changes in the law, but that's not why I'm glad the ACLU took the case either.

Every time speech is restricted, it ought to be a fight. A bitter, knock-down, drag out fight. It should never be allowed to become easy to do, something a DA looking for a vote getting headline does without fear of having his tail kicked by the best in the business.

We can't allow tort law to be used to silence people, either, without it being extremely expensive, difficult, and risky. Without the ACLU, or a similar organization, anyone without millions to back them up wouldn't risk printing or saying anything that could possibly be considered reckless or libelous.

By defending clients like NAMBLA, the ACLU lets it be known that any suit that may restrict speech is going to be difficult.

And it should be.

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The Drake
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One of my favorite Onion articles of all time:

ACLU Defends Nazis' Right To Burn Down ACLU Headquarters

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