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Liberty Makes Us Unfree, Says the ACLU

The government wouldn’t abuse us if we’d stop making it upset, according to the one-time civil liberties advocacy group.

Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto/S/NewscomRomy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto/S/NewscomWhat purpose is served by the American Civil Liberties Union? I know that the words "civil liberties" appear right there in the name, but it's increasingly difficult to take that seriously as the organization's mission. Just a month after leaked internal ACLU case-selection guidelines revealed the organization to be stepping back from viewpoint-neutral advocacy of free speech rights, the ACLU claims that vigorous advocacy for self-defense rights is to blame for government expansion of the security state.

"Mass shootings create a pervasive sense of insecurity and anxiety that politicians and policymakers will inevitably seek to address," senior policy analyst Jay Stanley insists on the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project blog. As a result, he argues, "those who support expansive gun rights as a protection against excessive government power should strongly consider how much government intrusion and expanded power they're willing to trade for those rights."

This is the old "why do you make him hit you?" argument applied to civil liberties. It excuses the actions of the abuser—the state in this case—as reactions to the missteps of the abused. But it's actually a step further removed, because most gun owners fly entirely below the state's radar. They're among the general population getting slapped by policies that politicians justify as responses to the crimes of a tiny minority.

This is also a blame-the-innocent argument that can be applied to so many civil liberties.

The FBI wants back doors into cell phones because terrorists and criminals occasionally use encryption? You wouldn't have to worry about overreaching law enforcement if you'd just drop your stubborn advocacy for privacy.

Authoritarian politicians want to clamp down on the Internet because a few basement dwellers get radicalized in online chat rooms? We could calm the calls for censorship if you'd abandon your defense of free-wheeling speech rights.

Anybody with a limited taste for defending freedom—or an actual hostility to the same—can construct a similar "stop making them hit you" argument against the exercise of any sort of liberty that makes government officials nervous. Which means that there's no end to it, because the whole idea of people going through their lives unguided and unmonitored ultimately keeps government officials awake at night. That's why they'll grab for any excuse at hand to expand their power and control.

Officials in the U.K. have already implemented probably every restriction on firearms that Stanley could imagine. The country has no "expansive gun rights," nor much in the way of advocates for them (not that London's rising violent crime rate cares). So there's no push for "government intrusion and expanded power," right?

Wrong. The British government has adopted what Edward Snowden calls "the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies." The UK also requires Internet companies to take down "extremist" content and threatens legal penalties if they're not quick enough to do so.

Which liberties should our friends across the Atlantic stop advocating so that the government will stop hitting them, Mr. Stanley?

That the ACLU has become a bit weak-kneed when it comes to civil-liberties advocacy is all-too-apparent. Last year, after an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, degenerated into a lethal riot, staff members pushed back against the organization's representation of one of the rally's organizers.

"Our broader mission—which includes advancing the racial justice guarantees in the Constitution and elsewhere, not just the First Amendment—continues to be undermined by our rigid stance" on free speech, they wrote in an open letter obtained by The New York Times.

That temporizing on free speech appears to be taking root in official policy. Wendy Kaminer, a former ACLU board member who has repeatedly criticized the organization's retreat from bold advocacy for liberty, published excerpts from new case selection guidelines in the Wall Street Journal (the full document is available here).

"Speech that denigrates [marginalized] groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality," the guidelines say. As a result, the decision as to whether to take a case will depend, in part, on "the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values."

Not everybody takes alarm at the new ACLU guidelines. Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen said that only the national board may change policy, and "would never let the staff get away with in effect modifying policy through the stratagem of implementation guidelines."

But the guidelines do exist, and other insiders agree with Kaminer that they indicate a troubling shift in focus at the organization.

"In other words," commented Ira Glasser, former executive director of the ACLU, in response to the leaked guidelines, "the ACLU now advises all its affiliates to consider the content of speech, and whether it advances our goals, before deciding whether to defend the right to speak. That is a balance never before recognized by the ACLU as legitimate in deciding whether to take a free speech case."

The new guidelines also note, "the ACLU generally will not represent protesters who seek to march while armed."

Photo Credit: Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto/S/Newscom

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  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    This is the old "why do you make him hit you?" argument applied to civil liberties.

    A favorite argument of at least one frequent poster here, I've noticed.

  • Quixote||

    And he is of course right. Who would argue, for example, that the defendant in our great nation's leading criminal "satire" case did not cause himself to be arrested by choosing the wrong individual to mock in his criminal "parodies"? It is only regrettable — as I'm sure the ACLU would agree — that the case led to the aberration of New York's aggravated harassment statute being declared unconstitutional, and that the authorities were not, in the end, able to secure a jail sentence — although they did, fortunately, at least succeed in obliging the perpetrator to spend nine years litigating a host of issues well chosen to influence the outcome of the case, such as the government's crafty suggestion that the "parodies" were disseminated — to almost thirty faculty members at NYU — with the intent not only to denigrate the reputation of a distinguished department chairman and Vatican envoy, but to make one thousand dollars in American currency. See the documentation at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com

  • Provocateur||

    "Mass shootings create a pervasive sense of insecurity and anxiety that politicians and policymakers will inevitably seek to USE TO ADVANCE THEIR POWER"

    There. Fixed it for him.

    The sad irony of his belief is that it is not gun ownership that is leading to mass shootings, but rather the governments policies of RESTRICTING gun owners (gun free zones, concealed carry resteictions, gun lock requirements, etc).

    So....gov't restrictions on liberties lead to MORE government restrictions on liberties.

    Whodathunkit?

  • The Iconoclast||

    The ACLU is too woke now to defend civil liberties unless it can somehow be shown to further left wing political interests.

  • Brandybuck||

    They'll be back on the free speech bandwagon just as soon as Trump University imposes some speech codes.

  • DarrenM||

    The ACLU can no loner defend civil liberties because they've forgotten what they are.

  • Hunthjof||

    Sadly you are dead right. When the nightmare in Virginia happened I knew that the ACLU would buckle. When the memos were released it was confirmed for me. Now of course they are subject to the whims of donors but still.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    They're subject to the whims of a donor base they carefully curated to have the particular whims they wanted to be subject to. Cause and effect goes both ways, if you've seen their fund raising letters before, they aren't making any effort to appeal to anyone who wouldn't have put this sort of pressure on them.

  • Al Bendova||

    "The ACLU can no loner defend civil liberties because they've forgotten what they are."

    If only there was something, perhaps an historical document, that could help us remember what our civil liberties are.

  • JFree||

    Doubt it has a damn thing to do with left/right.

    For any organization that cares about civil liberties, there is a certain point in the sewer where they will no longer descend. A point where their loss of membership by defending civil liberties there threatens the existence/viability of the organization itself.

    It will take an entirely new organization to defend civil liberties at that point - and there's no reason to expect that such an organization will be concerned with civil liberties on any other issue or for any other group.

    Has more to do with fragmentation and 'dis'organization than politics.

  • Mark22||



    The ACLU is too woke now to defend civil liberties unless it can somehow be shown to further left wing political interests.

    What do you mean by "now"? The organization was founded by leftists to defend communists and socialists. That has always been their purpose.

  • majil||

    Christopher Hitchens is turning over in his grave or his ashes wherever they are ,are

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Bottom of a bottle of Johnnie Walker?

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    He preferred, and rightly so, single-malt. Philip Morris killed him

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Who is turning over in his grave is Nat Hentoff. No, scratch that. He would be if he hadn't seen what the ACLU was becoming and left it long ago.

  • majil||

    Their name has already been tarnished beyond repair . Maybe an offshoot of FIRE ?

  • Bill||

    Maybe they will agree to rename their organization "Fake American Civil Liberties Union"
    FACLU (which rhymes with Frack You).

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    Or simply at Not in front of their name, making it "NOT A CLU".

  • Mark22||

    Their name was "tarnished" from the beginning.

    Furthermore, nice sounding names for ideologies and organizations often are intended to mislead. Socialism isn't about being social, communism isn't about community, progressivism isn't about progress, and the ACLU is not about promoting civil liberties.

    If an organization puts "we are promoting X" in their name, chances are good that they are doing something completely different.

  • Bearded Spock||

    The ACLU have always been a left-wing organization. Trump's election has caused them to remove the mask and reveal what was underneath.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    No, it started well before Trump being elected. They've always been bad on the 2nd amendment, and lost what little excuse for it they had with the Heller ruling.

    What triggered their going South on free speech was just that they realized that, today, the left are going to be the censors. Once they were confident of that, it was all over. It was just a matter of jettisoning the staff who weren't in on the scam.

  • Eddy||

    They were always left wing - in the Cold War they decided not to have Communists on their board anymore and basically put the "American" in American Civil Liberties Union. Then in the 70s they apologized for their horrible discrimination against Communist board members, thus dedicating themselves to the principle that a human-rights organization can have leaders pledged to the elimination of human rights. But even then they were willing to defend the National Socialists in Skokie, and they managed that without any National Socialists on their board. I don't know if they would do Skokie the same today.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Technically, they decided not to have "outed" Communists on their board. The ones who were successfully hiding it were still welcome.

  • FlameCCT||

    In the words of that great philosopher, Forrest Gump:
    Progressive is as Progressive does!

  • buybuydandavis||

    Left wing used to mean liberal. They actually believed in free speech.

    They've been increasingly supplanted on the Left by Progressives first, and now the intersectional Bolsheviks.

    I'm old enough to remember when the ACLU used to be proud of protecting the right of Nazis to speak.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Left wing used to mean liberal

    This is actually interesting.

    Most of our political spectrum today stems from the classic 'left wing' that existed when the term was coined. And THAT 'left wing' was heavily influenced by the American Experiment that was only just beginning.

    But here's the kicker--the current 'right wing' is closer to the left side of the left wing--the libertines-- than it is to those who are the ancestors of the current right wing--whose ideologies are all still colored by a need for autocracy

  • Mark22||

    Left wing used to mean liberal.

    "Left wing" means communist, socialist, democratic socialist, and progressive.

    Liberal ideologies are not "left wing". For people who like to put ideologies on a 1D spectrum, "liberal" may be in the center, "to the left of" conservatism, but that doesn't make it 'left wing".

    That's why it used to be true when Europeans pointed to the US and said that there was no left wing in the US.

  • Chili Dogg||

    Liberals are to the left of center. They are not the center, even if they like to tell themselves they are. Why did Europeans think the US didn't have a left wing? Because they were so far left that anybody to their right seemed moderate or conservative. I knew a guy who was practically a communist who thought Obama was not a liberal, but was relatively conservative. It would have been a waste of time to point out where BO stood on the issues.

  • Ecoli||

    I gave up on the ACLU about fifteen years ago.

  • John||

    I gave up on them in college when a left wing professor explained to me how he quit because they had just become an arm of the Democratic Party.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    These criticisms are all fair. But it should also be noted that the ACLU won't be representing the "plaintiffs" in these cases either. These guidelines are merely an effort to additionally filter which civil liberties cases they'll accept and which ones they won't accept. Every civil liberties group on the planet has to refuse some cases, simply because they don't have unlimited resources. These new guidelines are an (unfortunate) addition to their filter.

    It's not unlike the NRA which also filters which cases they will support or even remark on.

  • John||

    No. it is a lot, unlike the NRA. They are not saying that these cases are worthy but they don't have the resources to take them. They are saying that these cases are bad for liberty and it is counter to the mission of the ACLU to take them. The ACLU's position is now that the right to defend yourself and the right to keep and bear arms are bad for liberty. That absurdity of that speaks for itself.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's not that absurd. Police already believe there is a War on Cops, so they think everyone is out to get them.
    When you combine that with Contitution thumpers who say they need guns to protect themselves from government, the cops are going to respond with more tactics geared towards "safety." When cops are safe, everyone around them is unsafe.
    Then you get a cycle where both sides feed each other, the result being an increased police state.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    As a Contitution thumper, who cares what the cops think. They are wrong on this issue.

    There is no Us (People) vs. Them (Cops). There is an Us vs. Corrupt cops who violate the Constitution.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I get the "logic" behind what Stanley was saying, but the problem is that, as 2 Chili points out, that same "logic" can be used to justify the government's imposition on every other right in addition the 2nd:

    This is also a blame-the-innocent argument that can be applied to so many civil liberties.

    The FBI wants back doors into cell phones because terrorists and criminals occasionally use encryption? You wouldn't have to worry about overreaching law enforcement if you'd just drop your stubborn advocacy for privacy.

    Authoritarian politicians want to clamp down on the Internet because a few basement dwellers get radicalized in online chat rooms? We could calm the calls for censorship if you'd abandon your defense of free-wheeling speech rights.

    I used scare quotes around logic above because I'm pretty sure that this kind of thinking is a logical fallacy of some kind, I just can't quite put my finger on which fallacy it is.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    In other words, stop making them hit us, right?

  • ThomasD||

    It's not absurd. But it is ridiculous.

    Also an affront to liberty, and profoundly hypocritical coming from an organization ostensibly intended to protect civil liberties.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Constitution thumpers"? Great. Now the left can rail against "those who cling bitterly" to their Bibles and their copies of the Constitution.

    And let's be clear: the cops' tactics "geared towards safety" did not begin with provocations from the left or right, they began with the cops needing to justify the existence of their increasingly paramilitary structures and organization. The principle spark for Waco was not David Koresh but a Congress seriously considering defunding BATF. The only justification the police state needs, ever, is itself.

  • Chili Dogg||

    Some cops want to dress up like the military. I live in a nice peaceful town in Georgia, yet found out that the local police dept is spending thousands (rec'd through asset forfeiture) on riot gear and riot boots. Is there something going on that I don't know about?!

    Here is a link to a website that lists asset forfeiture reports for GA cities:
    https://ted.cviog.uga.edu/
    financial-documents/asset-forfeiture

    (The whole URL was too long to print. Combine the two lines and it should work.)

    The one for my city listed only case numbers for the cases where they confiscated stuff from people. It doesn't say whether the people were convicted or even charged. I'll have to do more research to find that out. I'll go ask the PD about the cases and about why they are spending so much on riot gear. That will make me popular.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I understand that and agree. I oppose what they're saying, but at the end of the day they won't be fighting for the other side. They'll simply be prioritizing their case load differently. So in that sense, it's exactly like the NRA and many other civil rights organizations.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Yeah, nobody complains about the NRA not taking on religious freedom cases, but that's because they're the National Rifle Association, which does not brand itself as having any interest in non-gun-related matters. Whereas the American Civil Liberties Union doesn't brand itself as a single-issue organization like the NRA or NARAL or FAMM. Their raison d'etre is that they defend ALL civil liberties. So that excuse really doesn't work.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    "Bingo", says Nat Hentoff's ghost.

  • Mark22||

    The name of the ACLU suggests that they defend "all civil liberties", but the names of organizations often lie.

    The raison d'etre, the reason the ACLU was founded, however, was clearly to defend communists against the US government.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    So the problem you have is with the name. Yawn.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    No, they ARE on the other side. Remember when the Heller decision came out? They didn't say, "Hurrah, but we'll leave this to the NRA to handle."

    No, they announced that they thought the Court was wrong,

    Do they sue to have gun control laws upheld? No, but they're still on the other side.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The ACLU has been infiltrated by Socialists and Nanny-Staters for decades. They just cannot hide it anymore.

    There were plenty of cases available against the federal government and various states for clear anti-constitutional legislation or administrative rules. 2A, 4A, 8A, 5A cases galore.

    The media could have posted daily wins for civil rights or at least kept the public abreast about the progress of taking our Constitutional Democratic Republic back. The ACLU could have been the leader of taking America back.

    Instead Trump represents a politician allied with many of the goals of Americans to take the country back. The ACLU chose to chose illegal immigrants over Americans and our Constitution, that free speech did not cover hate speech, and that guns ownership is a threat.

    Fuck the ACLU, you Commie organization!

  • Yellow Tony||

    Instead Trump represents a politician allied with many of the goals of Americans to take the country back.
    Wowzers.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I know you dont see it. No surprise. Its why you didnt see Trump being duly elected and beating Hillary so bad.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I understand loathing, as many claim to feel about Trump. When I see a picture of HRC my skin crawls, I get sick to my stomach, and my bowels go into an uproar. Thus far Trump has managed to do nothing that would make me wish for a different outcome.

    Trump is a lot of things, narcissism and megalomania come to mind; but the guy is serving a purpose and has become the juxtaposition of major political change that is happening now. I do not think we will ever go back to "normal" after his time in office, and that is not a bad thing. Sure, he's a virtual hand grenade, but was elected to blow things up. And destruction can be both creative and necessary.

  • Curmudgeon44||

    What he said.

  • Robert||

    Just decades? ACLU was founded by Communists deliberately to serve their ends. After a short while they mellowed, taking other stances, to at least make it look good, then even started working with the feds to out Communists in the 1950s. Since then they've tended to revert to form.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    First they came for the Wobblies....

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    If anyone knows who and what the Wobblies were, three cheers!

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Joe Hill rocks..

  • Brett Bellmore||

    That's like saying the CPUSA was infiltrated by commies. The ACLU started out pre-infiltrated. It was, literally, founded by communists who were concerned that communists might not be free to propagandize.

    Just defending the rights of communists would have been a PR nightmare, so they decided they'd defend everybody's free speech rights, and make a big show of being impartial. Knowing that mostly they'd be defending their guys, because the other side was the one in a position to censor. Defending Klan and the like just gave them an appearance of principle.

    On that basis they attracted a lot of people who were just in favor of civil liberties, but the left remained in command. Their recruiting literature always had a "no enemies to the left" tilt to it, and civil liberties the left disapproved of, like property rights or the right to keep and bear arms, got short shrift.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I learn something new every day.

    I thought the ACLU was mainly a refuge for Socialists, I didnt realize that Commies started it.

  • FlameCCT||

    Communism, Socialism, Progressivism; all are just variants of Marxism.

    Communism relies on violence to gain control and violence to keep control.
    Socialism does not rely on violence to gain control and may or may not use violence to keep control.
    Progressivism does not rely on violence to gain control and relies on violence to keep control.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Some would actually argue that Marxism is a variant of socialism rather than the other way around. There are plenty of socialists who outright reject Marx.

  • Robert Crim||

    Including Adolf Hitler.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    The Communist Party was the only organization large enough and well-funded enough to get it done.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    And the NRA was started by nanny staters. They were responsible for the earliest gun control efforts and opposed the 2nd amendment.

    So obviously historical context doesn't tell us as much as we think because organizations can change from their original intent.

  • ThomasD||

    "And the NRA was started by nanny staters."

    Ignorance is clearly your strongest suit.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Trump is in direct opposition to 1, 4, 5, 9, and 10. I don't think he stands for what you think he stands for.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Hyperbolic nonsense.

  • Clayton Cramer||

    Examples?

  • Mark22||

    The ACLU has been infiltrated by Socialists and Nanny-Staters for decades. They just cannot hide it anymore.

    Infiltrated? They were founded by a communist.

  • markm23||

    My mother was a board member of the local chapter of the ACLU, back in the 1970's. They were founded by communists, but infiltrated and taken over by liberals like my mother, back in the days when liberals wanted freedom. Now at least the national board has fallen to nanny-staters and extreme leftists. It's a good thing Mom lost her mind to Alzheimers before she could see what has become of the ACLU.

    Also, the ACLU has always been quite decentralized. State and local chapters could choose policies and cases to support quite contrary to the national board. Although that meant that they wouldn't be getting money from the national organization for those cases, such support from above was rare, anyhow.

  • SimonP||

    You know you're talking sense when you compare government efforts to crack down on mass shootings and gun homicides as akin to domestic abuse.

    I approve of the ACLU not taking on hate speech cases and noting the tension between fighting against government privacy intrusions and due process violations and government controls of firearms sales and ownership. I agree that, particularly after decades of expansion of state police powers, substantive and procedural due process needs to be a higher priority than carrying around phallic compensators that go bang-bang. So should anyone with any real understanding of what liberty is.

    I also donate $100 a month to the ACLU. What are you whiny morons going to do about it?

  • John||

    What are you whiny morons going to do about it?

    Laugh at you.

    I agree that, particularly after decades of expansion of state police powers, substantive and procedural due process needs to be a higher priority than carrying around phallic compensators that go bang-bang. So should anyone with any real understanding of what liberty is.

    So you consider yourself a victim. Good for you. But it is not the rest of us' duty to be one with you.

  • Libertymike||

    Doesn't he understand that the right to carry around phallic compensators that go bang-bang is a substantive due process right?

  • Rhywun||

    Real liberty means you don't have the right to defend yourself. I mean, duh.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The ACLU went wrong when it became political more than civil libertarian. Not defending all rights equally is one thing, but advocating positions that are contrary to basic rights is something else. The one thing you could say about the ACLU back in the day was that it was absolutist on speech. No longer.

    One thing to note--different state chapters have historically varied quite a bit from others. Wonder if that is still true?

    When the American Civil Liberties Union has lost many libertarians. . .that says a lot.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Makes sense about the absolutist on speech thing. The Lefty protesters needed protection from government trying to stop them from spreading Communist propaganda.

    Now the Lefties want to run things, so the protesters would be civil libertarians. Lefties dont want to protect that dissent.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Far better off supporting the ACLJ instead.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Absolutist on speech"? You say that as though it's a bad thing. I believe it was that great left-wing firebrand Hugo Black who famously wrote in a SCOTUS opinion "The phrase Congress shall make no law" means "NO LAW" (emphasis mine). If you can't be "absolutist" when it comes to one of the inalienable rights endowed upon us by our Creator, you have no business living in a free society.

  • SimonP||

    It's not, actually.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Yeah, it is.

  • gimmedatribeye||

    Whiny, bed-wetting hoplophobe.

    Mommy, mommy, guuunnnns!!! I'm scared!!!

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Oh fine. Blame it on the hoplites.

  • Clayton Cramer||

    Phallic compensators? Is that why my wife carries a pistol when walking the dog? Coyotes are a problem.

  • H. Farnham||

    "What are you whiny morons going to do about it?"

    I'll probably grab my phallic compensators and go bang-bang some targets and clay pigeons and generally not worry about the sanctimonious ramblings of the ACLU and their donors.

  • Aloysious||

    Do that, and then when you get home and are relaxing, enjoy an adult beverage while using more plastic straws than is necessary.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    I generally don't use straws when enjoying a Stout. But I did recently buy a case of plastic straws and pitched them into the ocean. I have never felt more alive.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I wouldn't ordinarily, but now that you've made an issue out of it ….

  • Bill||

    Y'all are assuming he meant guns when he said Phallic Compensators that go bang-bang.

    I'm pretty sure he's talking about eco-friendly butt-plugs with sound effects.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Dang. Me and my knee-jerk interpretations. Have to learn to watch that

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    One prefers the H & K compensatory.
    Just saying. Sometimes a HK is just an HK.
    Freud, author of 'Uber Coca. Paraphrased.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Why would we "morons" do anything about it? You're free to donate to whomever you please. Good for you. You appear to be the one who doesn't understand liberty. It's pretty simple, and trying to cloud that with mental gymnastics, creating some kind of hierarchy of concerns, as if caring about 2A rights somehow diminishes any concern for 4A rights? You're perfectly okay with the state taking privately owned "phallic compensators" (lazy and tired pseudo-intellectual pathologizing) because you have decided you know what's best for everyone. Alas, you are, at best, a bitter and cynical dimestore Freud come here to snark. At worst I suppose you're a bot programmed to be Tony but more arrogant and without a sense of humor. Enjoy wasting your money on a dilapidated mess.

  • SimonP||

    The only ones engaging in "mental gymnastics" here are the ones who continually conflate hate speech with free speech generally or who try to characterize an observation about how success in one area of advocacy can undercut progress made in another as being about favoring confiscating guns.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "conflate hate speech with free speech generally"

    How much conflating does it take, to view speech as part of speech, generally?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "conflate hate speech with free speech generally"

    How much conflating does it take, to view speech as part of speech, generally?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Narrow the definition, narrow the right. Until there is no right, as far as the government is concerned. It's folly of the highest order to let the government infringe upon our rights. You might want to use them again someday, you see.

  • SimonP||

    How much conflating does it take, to view speech as part of speech, generally?

    We have a First Amendment, and "free speech" generally, to serve certain core interests in a well-functioning political system and the pursuit of truth. Hate speech is waaaaay on the fringes of anything the First Amendment or "free speech rights" are intended to protect and must protect, to have any meaning at all. It is right on the edge where you find misleading commercial speech.

    "Free" or not? Well, I don't think we ought to be regulating it, if that's what you mean. But I do think it best to avoid conniptions every time a university wants to do something about protecting its students from race-, religion-, or sexual orientation-motivated harassment.

  • JesseAz||

    That is the dumbest rationalization of banning speech I have ever heard

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I've seen dumber. At least there was a rationale, even if it was a stupid one.

  • Clayton Cramer||

    Speech is harassment?

  • Azathoth!!||

    We have a First Amendment, and "free speech" generally, to serve certain core interests in a well-functioning political system and the pursuit of truth

    No. We don't. Not even close. You don't understand the concept of free speech at all.

    And it's really very simple.

    ALL speech is free. ALL speech should be protected.

    The ONLY time speech should get anyone in trouble is if, after the fact of the speech it can be shown to have demonstrably caused harm to another. That is where libel laws and fraud laws come from.

    The proper name for 'hate speech' is 'unpopular speech'.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Quite often "hate speech" isn't even unpopular. That's why there's an effort to punish it: If it were genuinely unpopular it wouldn't need to be punished. Efforts are made to suppress it because it IS popular, or it's feared it might become so if permitted to be heard.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Define 'hate speech' in comprehensive objective terms. Or s it just anything you don't agree with?

  • SimonP||

    And what if I don't?

    Pointing out that defining something is difficult doesn't imply or prove anything. Does it suggest that maybe we shouldn't try to enact legislation defining or prohibiting a thing? Sure. I never suggested we should outlaw "hate speech," and I wouldn't venture to try. I just commend the ACLU for not making it a priority, as opposed to other free speech priorities that are far more central to the well-functioning of our democracy.

  • JesseAz||

    If you don't it proves you an idiot. You're the oen for advicating for a line on hate speech. Who defines the line dumbass?

  • Clayton Cramer||

    You just admitted that you lack the wisdom to define something you want to punish others for doing.

  • NashTiger||

    So Speech should be free, as long as it doesn't upset anybody and everyone agrees with it

  • ThomasD||

    The highest freedom is the freedom to not step out of line.

  • SimonP||

    Not what I said, but don't let me distract you from your blocks.

  • JesseAz||

    You've said nothing of any worth and dodges when you had the opportunity to elucidate your idiotic beliefs.

  • Violent Sociopath||

    The only ones engaging in "mental gymnastics" here are the ones who continually conflate hate speech with free speech generally

    You mean like these people?

    Free clue: "hate speech" is not a thing.

  • SimonP||

    "Hate speech" is absolutely a thing, something we can recognize, a term we can consistently apply.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Really? Seriously?
    Is not 'hate speech' that which offends You? Definitions matter..

  • JesseAz||

    Consistently? You literally just refused to define it in objective terms. Something needed for consistency.

  • Clayton Cramer||

    My feelings are hurt. You just engaged in hate speech. Burn him!

  • NashTiger||

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    May I cite you w/ respect to lazy and tired pseudo-intellectual pathologizing? LATPIP...
    Golly, am in awe...

  • BlueStarDragon||

    Why you give 100$ a month the other thousands of us who give 50$ a month will just stop. In short what little they gain from you will be lost by more people not giving to the ACLU since they abandon freedom. I still get request for donations from them but I've stop giving them money now.

  • SimonP||

    Seems like the process is working, then. Hopefully you've found another organization that promotes civil liberties at least as well as the ACLU to give your money to. Or nah?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    The ACLJ is pretty good. And without all the communist treason you appear to love.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Since the ACLU does not promote civil liberties for everyone, they have failed.

  • BYODB||

    At this point, you'd be better off giving your money to Red Cross than ACLU if you actually want to help anyone I'd say.

  • ThomasD||

    No, not the Red Cross. They are as much a false flag operation as the ACLU.

  • soldiermedic76||

    American Red Cross isn't to bad, but the IRC is terrible. The American Red Cross is a different organization them the International Red Cross.

  • Careless||

    My donations in that category go to the Institute for Justice and FIRE

  • SimonP||

    What's funny is that FIRE's advocacy is even more clearly motivated by donors' preferences than the ACLU's. They seem to choose cases based on what will outrage conservatives who believe that academia is too left-leaning and what will net them easy scalps.

    IJ is cool though.

  • JesseAz||

    Simon... Are you just jumping in the deep end in ignorance? Have you gone through recent cases logged on the FIRE website? How fucking dumb are you? They often take cases on both sides. Go read their case history dumbass.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Institute for Justice has done more for constitutional rights in the last 5 years than the ACLU has done in the last 5 decades.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    No, but I haven't looked. Based on what the ACLU is saying, though, it wouldn't be hard.

  • Live Free Or Diet||

    I also donate $100 a month to the ACLU.

    I generally find people who contribute to causes talk about the causes, not about their contributions.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Exactly. You can pick out virtue signalling pretty easy.

  • Live Free Or Diet||

    Thank you, but this insight comes from doing taxes for older friends and relatives.

  • SimonP||

    And I've found that Reason commenters are not exactly very perceptive.

    The only reason I mention it is to make the point that it's all well and good to take issue with the ACLU's priorities and strategy, but who cares what you think if you're not a member and not donating? Why shouldn't they reflect the views of those with the money and resources to support them? What do they owe JD or any of the whiners here?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    They owe them nothing, but why does anyone else owe them any deference or immunity from criticism?

  • SimonP||

    Who is saying that they're owed that?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    And, why should we donate to an organization hostile to our views? So they can spend our money attacking us?

    All they owe us is to be honest. Maybe change their name to reflect their actual priorities.

  • SimonP||

    Nothing that has ever been said about the ACLU on these pages suggests that they are attacking you. That's just your unhinged paranoia speaking.

    They don't owe you shit. Stop being a baby and move on, if you don't like what they're doing.

  • Clayton Cramer||

    They are arguing for disarming law-abiding people with their argument. Imagine if they argued that black people are the reason for racism, and they should stop demanding protection of their rights.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Exactly. If they'd just said, "Obviously the 2nd amendment protects an individual right, hurrah for the Heller ruling. But we'll let the NRA handle defending this particular right.", I'd have had no problem with it.

    But they want people to think they defend all civil liberties, so they're denying any right they don't want to defend IS a right.

    They didn't just refrain from defending the 2nd amendment, they staked out a position against it.

  • gaoxiaen||

    We pay taxes for people to attack us. That's more than enough.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    And, why should we donate to an organization hostile to our views? So they can spend our money attacking us?

    All they owe us is to be honest. Maybe change their name to reflect their actual priorities.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Simon, you are really obtuse, and present a number of idiotic observations. A principled organization that bows to the financial influence of its contributors has no principles to begin with.

    Also, the only whiner here is you. So you need to stop with that shit.

  • SimonP||

    I'm not whining about a single goddamn thing.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Well, since you're on a site with Reason commenters whom you plainly despise, why not solve the problem for everyone and simply leave? Works for me

  • SimonP||

    no u

  • Azathoth!!||

    The only reason I mention it is to make the point that it's all well and good to take issue with the ACLU's priorities and strategy, but who cares what you think if you're not a member and not donating? Why shouldn't they reflect the views of those with the money and resources to support them? What do they owe JD or any of the whiners here?

    Seriously? You just condemned FIRE for doing just this.

    I though OBL was a caricature of a lefty, but damn, Simon, you're showing us that he's not a caricature at all.

  • Zeb||

    phallic compensators

    Oh, for fuck's sake. At least make some effort to understand why people care about gun rights.

  • Live Free Or Diet||

    I prefer to think of my CCW as a phallic extender.

  • SimonP||

    I understand the arguments perfectly well, actually. I also understand the case law interpreting the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right to bear arms. I also understand the various confused ways that internet libertarians understand and confuse these arguments.

    But at root, I am not interested in engaging with libertarians like their obsession with gun rights has any rational connection to the arguments they readily adduce, when asked to provide some justification for their hobby. I am less interested in whether the Second Amendment protects their right to own a gun for use in their self-defense than I am whether they have ever really felt the need to have a gun on their person for that purpose. When they carry at political rallies, are they concerned the government may at any moment charge in and slaughter everyone, or are they really just trying to intimidate political opponents while making a point about what they think their rights are? And so on.

    What motivates the gun enthusiast? Is it these dry intellectual arguments, or is it simply the feeling of power and status that comes with carrying?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Is that a serious question, or just rhetorical?

    Personally, I came to gun ownership as a matter of political philosophy. "All that's necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.", and for certain values of doing something, a gun is necessary. Evil men, too, know that, and thus typically favor gun control for everybody else.

    And, of course, unpopular rights are a great diagnostic for whether people take the idea of rights, and the rule of law, seriously. That's the way I view it: Gun rights are in the Constitution, and if you're not in favor of them being upheld until such time as that's not true anymore, you're an enemy of the rule of law.

    Enemies of the rule of law, who want the population defenseless. I don't view such people positively.

  • SimonP||

    Personally, I came to gun ownership as a matter of political philosophy.

    Strange, you don't seem to provide an argument sounding in political philosophy. Not that I'm interested in the usual wankery. I could probably write the argument for you, and formulate it better than you ever could.

    And, of course, unpopular rights are a great diagnostic for whether people take the idea of rights, and the rule of law, seriously.

    This is another point entirely. Your heuristics are as irrelevant as they are illogical. The question was: what motivates the gun enthusiast? Why do they feel like they need a gun?

    Enemies of the rule of law, who want the population defenseless. I don't view such people positively.

    Seems you're doing a fine job of talking yourself into supporting a totalitarian purge. That's internet libertarianism for you!

  • Brett Bellmore||

    So, basically you don't actually want to know what motivates gun owners to own guns, because if they tell you anything you don't like, you'll just reject it.

  • gaoxiaen||

    And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you'd be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria [Government limo] sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur — what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

  • Shandower||

    The first time I was mugged, I gave the guy my wallet like he demanded, and he shot me anyway before running away.

    The second time I got mugged, I used my gun to make the guy drop his tire iron and wait for the police to show up to take him to jail.

    When three good ol' boys tried to beat the gay out of me, my gun convinced them to alter their plans and go somewhere else before the cops showed up.

    So, personally, I don't give a gnats fart about your understanding of arguments, I just know you think I should have submitted to a couple of beatings so you can feel better.

    Nah.

  • SimonP||

    So are these things that actually happened to you, or just hypothetical scenarios you feel entitled to describe as though they actually happened to you, in order to make a point?

    Either way, if you're unusually prone to getting your ass kicked, as you seem to be, then by all means it makes sense to want to carry a firearm. Good for you! That's what they're there for! Your motivations aren't a mystery to me at all. I'm talking more about the people who own the vast majority of the millions of other guns out there.

  • KevinP||

    What motivates the gun enthusiast? Is it these dry intellectual arguments, or is it simply the feeling of power and status that comes with carrying?

    Here is a gun owner who loves the feeling of power and status that comes with carrying:

    Lancaster Woman Scares Off Bat-Wielding Attackers By Pulling Gun On Them


    Quote:
    LANCASTER, Ohio - It happened along a walking path in Lancaster.

    Dinah Burns is licensed to carry a concealed gun, but she'd only recently started taking her weapon while walking her dog.

    Based on what happened, it looks like she'll make a point of carrying from now on.

    "I think if they'd gotten any closer, I probably would have fired" said Burns.

    It was Monday when Burns was on a footpath near Sanderson Elementary School.

    "Two gentlemen came out of the woods, one holding a baseball bat, and said 'You're coming with us'."
  • Zeb||

    If you understand the arguments, then why the ridiculous assertion that it has something to do with penises?

  • SimonP||

    Because Reason commenters are hilariously sensitive about insinuations that they're sexually inadequate or gay.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Because Reason commenters are hilariously sensitive about insinuations that they're sexually inadequate or gay.

    Ah. You don't actually read it. That explains so much.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Simon, you're the one that is confused. You have a lot of bad, poorly thought out ideas. And if you aren't interested in engaging with libertarians, then GTFO.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I suggest you spend some time studying what happened at Ruby Ridge and Waco. If you still don't get it, check yourself in to the nearest mental health facility.

  • SimonP||

    Are you suggesting that most people who are pro-gun rights are pro-gun rights because they have a serious fear that they could be attacked and killed in a Ruby Ridge- or Waco-style assault? And they seriously believe that arming themselves - because they weren't at Ruby Ridge or Waco?... - will help to protect them in that scenario?

  • Clayton Cramer||

    I have had two times in my life when I needed a gun for self-defense or defense of others. Both times I was armed. I am not alone. Here's a few thousand examples. https://gunselfdefense.blogspot.com/ You won't read it because you are an ACLU member, and facts don't matter.

  • Naaman Brown||

    SimonP: phallic compensators

    Zeb: Oh, for fuck's sake. At least make some effort to understand why people care about gun rights.

    But Joyce Brothers claimed in the 1960s that gun control will work because guns are phallic symbols. Banning phallic symbols deters bad people with bad motives and bad intents from doing bad acts. It's a no brainer argument.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Oh, well, if Joyce Brothers said it that should foreclose any debate on the issue.

  • Jerry B.||

    It is interesting the number of anti-gun posters who seem to have a fascination with other people's genitalia.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I also donate $100 a month to the ACLU. What are you whiny morons going to do about it?

    Donate $100 month to the Second Amendment Foundation for starters (The NRA are bunch of quislings).

  • SimonP||

    Seems like we have the bases covered, then.

  • Rossami||

    re: "I also donate ..."

    You are free to waste your money. I prefer to donate my money (and more importantly, my time) to organizations that defend civil liberties more consistently. ACLU is not the only game in town. They have been resting on their laurels for too long.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Be a life member of the NRA, belong to the Second Amendment Foundation, and watch the transformation of the US Judiciary. That enough for you dip shit, or do you crave more?

  • KevinP||

    phallic compensators that go bang-bang

    LOL, why are gun control advocates so obsessed with other people's genitals?

    Here is a gun owner who is compensating for impotence and sexual inadequacy:

    Woman tells intruder, 'If you take one more step I'll kill you'


    Quote:
    Laura Williams said she grabbed her pistol and held an intruder at bay while her teenage daughter called 911. She said the man kicked in the front door of her home and charged her with a shovel.

    "I aimed it at him and said, 'If you take one more step I'll kill you," she said.

    The man ran, but deputies later arrested him.
  • Naaman Brown||

    "... government efforts to crack down on mass shootings and gun homicides ..."

    Wish government was trying that.

    All they do try is cracking down on legal gun manufacture, sale and possession by those of us who abide by the law.

    Gun control is like controlling rape or prostitution by adding more and more restrictions on marriage licenses.

    Oh. I used to be a card carrying member of ACLU, but dropped out. What are you going to do about that?

  • DarrenM||

    You aren't exactly a deep thinking, are you.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Nothing. You are free to waste your money as you choose. Until the government you endorse says otherwise and the ACLU decides your case is not worth taking.

  • Hunthjof||

    If you don't understand the need to defend speech that you and I despise then you are not an advocate for free speech. it is easy to defend popular speech but the reprehensible stuff is what needs to be defended. If you don't you are stating that speech is subject to the mob veto.

  • SimonP||

    Look at it this way: I care more about a president who bans reporters from CNN based on the coverage they provide, threatens to withdraw security clearances of critics, and openly and continuously describes the press as the "enemy of the people," than whether a university's clumsy attempt to protect its students from harassment on the basis of race results in a fraternity being censured for its hazing activities.

    I don't think we should be banning hate speech or any other "despicable" speech, but there are assaults on core free speech values happening right now. That's where the focus of advocacy needs to be.

  • JesseAz||

    Umm... James risen. Attempting to throw fox out of the press pool. Did you forget about your hero already?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I might be annoyed if Trump tried to have the security clearances pulled from critics who currently hold positions that require security clearances, but I'm just fine with him pulling the security clearances of people who don't currently occupy such positions.

    No need to know, no need for a security clearance.

    And Brennan never should have had a security clearance in the first place.

  • Mark22||

    I approve of the ACLU not taking on hate speech cases

    No doubt you do. You're a totalitarian at heart. We knew that.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "This is the old "why do you make him hit you?" argument applied to civil liberties. "

    Yes, agreed!

    How about howaboutism, in the form of Trump being FORCED to start (amp up) a trade war, and tax the crap out of America individuals and businesses who DARE to import ferriner's goods.... Because the ferriners are taxing THEIR individuals and businesses who DARE to import stuff and stuff!!!

    WHY did the ferriners force Him to do that!???!

  • John||

    Not everything involves Trump. Either kick him out of your head or start charging him rent.

  • Yellow Tony||

  • SQRLSY One||

    "Either kick him out of your head or start charging him rent."

    Thanks! That's honestly a pretty funny line, and I might have to copy-mod-paste it (steal it) from time to time!

    My implied-but-not -explicitly-stated serious point remains, "He / they made me do it" to cover up our own free-choice decisions (when there are plenty other options open) continues to be bull-poop! And we all (myself included) tend to excuse our allies when they say this, but jump all over our enemies when they say this!

    What's good for the goose, is good for the gander, and Karma will bite our behinds if we don't watch out!

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    That nasty Free-Will argument again. Are you trying to deprive me of my victimhood?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Agreed! By Grabthar's Hammer, you will be avenged!!!!

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Hammers should strictly regulated, lest they harm the innocenti. G's hammer is metric, rather than standard. Something to do with its origin...
    When Home Depot is outlawed, only outlaws will have Home Depots....

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Sadly, these days, it's always Hammer Time.

  • SQRLSY One||

    I has a sad as well!!! Oh well, then, time to go and get HAMMERED!!!!

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Copy that, flight leader. GH one, R TB.

  • Naaman Brown||

    I thought the news was that de ferriners are now more open to trade negotiations.

  • JesseAz||

    Trade war has been happening for decades dumb. Every country involved already had tarriffs on us and vice versa.

  • DajjaI||

    All these orgs see the light at the end of the tunnel and turn back. They are victims of their own success. Need to create new problems to justify fundraising. Baby needs new pair of shoes.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    That light, unfortunately, is an oncoming locomotive....but it's solar-powered!!

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    So you're safe then.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    No, but I'm bio-divergently degradable.

  • Libertymike||

    This is not Harvey "Three Felonies a Day" Silverglate's ACLU.

  • mortiscrum||

    I think this article is overlooking an important piece: the roll the public has in demanding these things of politicians. Gun control is a particularly stark example. People are worried about their kids being shot in school. Even if it's not the most statistically justifiable concern, it's a perfectly understandable one. And when a vocal group tells politicians - the government - to Do Something, it's kind of their job.

  • NoVaNick||

    People are worried about their kids being shot in school. Even if it's not the most statistically justifiable concern, it's a perfectly understandable one. And when a vocal group tells politicians - the government - to Do Something, it's kind of their job.

    I worry more about my kids being hit by a car on their way to school than being mass shooting victims. Ever since Columbine, school security has been beefed up to the point that schools now resemble prisons, yet the shootings continue even though there is more security and gun ownership has declined. Whatever the government is doing, its not working.

  • mortiscrum||

    I get that. My point is simply that
    1) school shootings happen, and they blow up in the media
    2) as a result, people are concerned their kid is next

    I'm not making a justification argument. I'm saying it's understandable for a human being to react this way. It's also highly predictable that people will turn to the government to do something.

    The article I feel was making veiled insinuations that politicians are cynically exploiting these events to seize power. I think that discounts the enormous pressure they feel from the public to pass anti-gun laws.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I tend to agree. It's understandable for humans and politicians (see what I did there) to act this way. But the check to liberty has to be the Constitution (see below). If the desires of the Congress slip through the cracks of what is Constitutional, then it's up to the courts to check Congress's power (and protect individual rights).

    Without groups advocating for individual liberty, like the ACLU has historically for 1A, 4A, 5A and the NRA has historically for 2A, then it's difficult for individuals to face down the big bad government in a court of law. It's important that we have these advocacy groups. They play a vital role in pooling money and legal resources to defend liberty.

  • BigT||

    Yes, but the aclu has given up on 1A. Who will step up?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Plenty of other civil rights groups that are non communist. ACLJ for example.

  • Naaman Brown||

    MORE security? Nickolaus Cruz was a known problem. He walked into a school where he was not a student, teacher, or parent, had no business being there, carrying a duffle bag of weapons, with no hinderance. Where was this "prison-like" security?

  • gaoxiaen||

    Searching girls' underwear for Advil.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Our form of government, the Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights are supposed to insulate individuals from mob rule. Just because the majority wants to do something, doesn't mean it's the job of Congress to appease them. It has to be an enumerated power of Congress to act on it and it has to not be a protected individual right under the BoR.

    And that's just the legal position. The libertarian position would be to expand the class of protected individual rights far beyond what is just listed in the BoR to include anything that doesn't cause harm to another's life, liberty, or property.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    It has to be an enumerated power of Congress to act on it and it has to not be a protected individual right under the BoR.

    Technically you should have ended your sentence before "and." Unfortunately everything seems to be enumerated under penumbral emanations of the commerce clause.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Yep. The commerce clause is like a Swiss Army knife with a thousand tools. No. need for enumeration anymore. Unless Trump is doing it.

  • Rossami||

    re: "when a vocal group tells politicians ...to Do Something, it's kind of their job"

    No, it most explicitly is not. The reason we have a republican form of government rather than a direct democracy is to put a layer of thoughtful statesmen between the demagogues and emotions of the mob.

    When a vocal group tells politicians to "DO SOMETHING", they should listen - but then we pay those politicians to step back and consider the larger goals, anticipate and mitigate adverse consequences, balance the desires of the vocal minority against the rights and desires of the usually-silent majority and, after lots of deliberation, to "do the RIGHT thing".

    If you want to live under mob rule, go establish a direct democracy. Bear in mind, however that through all of history there are precisely zero successful examples of direct democracy larger than about a small township. It's a system of government that does not scale.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Worked out fine for the Athenians..
    Well, maybe, not so much..

  • Rossami||

    The Athenian democracy of the 4th century BC was limited to adult male non-slaves (and a couple other restrictions). The population that could participate in that democracy has been estimated at between 30,000 and 50,000. By modern standards - a small township. And as you note, it was not without its challenges.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Congratulations for seeing through my snark. Apologies tendered. Did not Pericles, Hero of Athens, come to an inglorious end when the mob demanded? And the admiral of Themistocles? (sp?)
    One means no harm...

  • kcuch||

    And the admiral of Themistocles? (sp?)

    i think it was testilcles

  • Naaman Brown||

    "when a vocal group tells politicians ...to Do Something, it's kind of their job"

    That's how we get moral panicks over comic books, Satanic ritual abuse, and other bulsht.

  • BigChiefWahoo||

    How much public support would there be for more restrictive gun laws if the Fourth Estate were not completely in the tank for gun control and doing their absolute best at sensationalizing these school shootings? There is a pre-existing constituency for gun control which does everything it can to cultivate fear on the part of the public.

    And do you think the government should NOT do something about it when a vocal group tells them to NOT do it? Or does the fear of school shootings somehow trump the fear of over-weaning government?

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Hello, yellow journalism!
    Remember the Maine..

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    I mean no disrespect to the color yellow. I hate all colors equally.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    When my stepdaughter was little, my concerns consisted of her being molested, hit by a car in front of the school, and leftist indoctrination. I put the likelihood of her being shot in school just above being struck by lightning and Not being transformed into Mary Marvel.

  • Clayton Cramer||

    Keep in mind that much of this problem is mentally ill people who would have been hospitalized in 1960 before we had to draw chalk marks around the bodies, but the ACLU worked aggressively to destroy state mental hospitals, creating an explosion of homeless people, many of them mentally ill.

  • Jerry B.||

    "And when a vocal group tells politicians - the government - to Do Something, it's kind of their job."

    So if a vocal group said that crime was caused by, say, urban Blacks, it'd be all right to violate their civil rights?

  • NoVaNick||

    The ACLU took it on the chin after C-ville last year from their wealthy progtard donors. The only things they seem to want to protect now are abortions and safe spaces

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Don't forget their desire to protect their revenue stream. Which as you point out is largely from progressives.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    There was a time when they could have just been principled on the 2nd amendment, and instead of the NRA becoming the 800 lb gorilla of lobbies, it would have been the ACLU. They were already well positioned, had a rep. the NRA leadership was not enthusiastic about defending the 2nd amendment. (Had to be replaced by the members to get the ball rolling!)

    They chose to be the small lobby that lied about being principled, instead.

  • Wrath0fKahn||

    Honestly, the fact they totally chickened out on the 2nd Amendment and left people who care about the entire Bill of Rights stuck at least begrudgingly grateful to the NRA pisses me off to no end.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    For a long while now they've been taking care only to have 'progtard' donors, so it's a problem of their own creation.

    Or an excuse of their own creation, more like.

  • Robert||

    Brandenburg was a tough case with an unpleasant client that established free speech protections for everybody. If the ACLU is pulling back and prioritizing defenses of speech that are not "contrary to our values," it will likewise be pulling back on the free speech protections extended to the entire population.


    OTOH, there are enough different assaults on freedom of speech that even if they do select just those not contrary to their values, defending the ones they select will improve speech protections for everybody, similarly to Brandenburg.

  • Robert Crim||

    No, because hard cases (sometimes) make for better law. Few people here, for example, EVER will be outside the parameters of a bunch of skinheads brandishing rifles while calling for "revengeance" against "niggers and Jews."

    Indeed, I cannot conceive of anyone reading this blog to ever come close.

  • Rhywun||

    What purpose is served by the American Civil Liberties Union?

    I learned this morning that its purpose is to point out that facial-recognition software is racist.

  • Longtobefree||

    The computer does not care.
    (programming theorem 23)

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Then why do transistors have bias?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    There used to be an athlete named Len who I hear was biased. But he's dead now.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Ahh. That is painfully bad.

  • Microaggressor||

    2Chili knocks another one out of the park.

    Frankly I'm getting tired of the abuse of language. An organization with a habit of advocating against civil liberties should not be fraudulently calling itself a civil liberties organization.

    I see the same trend with "human rights" advocacy. Usually it boils down to more socialism, e.g. "health care is a human right". Nowhere to be seen: the human right to own private property, which socialism explicitly infringes on. I guess some human rights just aren't that trendy anymore, even the one that is the basis of decentralized power and human livelihood that turned the proletariat into the middle class.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Welcome to Newspeak.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Instead, we should create new mechanisms for championing our liberties.

    At this point FIRE* and the Institute for Justice are far more consistent civil rights advocates than the ACLU.

    * I know FIRE is known for advocating for campus speech, perhaps they could expand into "off campus" free speech advocacy?

  • Chasman1965||

    I used to admire the ACLU for their steadfast stubbornness in defending the Bill of Rights (minus the Second Amendment) even in unpopular stands. They were extremists for liberty. Now, they are sounding like progressives who are defending the government.

  • Cory Crockett||

    Yeah; seems like, nowadays, They're mostly comprised of Leftists.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    What else do you expect progressives to defend, if not THEIR government.

  • Cory Crockett||

    FINALLY! This sham of an organization exposed it's ass. Thank you, President Ronald J. Trump.

  • Cory Crockett||

    FINALLY! This sham of an organization exposed it's ass. Thank you, President Donald J. Trump.

  • tomter||

    Care to visit this once: https://www.makemyassignments.com/

  • gbear||

    The ACLU was founded by a communist, and things haven't changed.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    The ACLU has a point. Many people do things that cause the government to go to far. For example, if you don't want to be stopped and frisked for no reason, stop being black. If you don't like no-knock drug raids, quit having an address that similar enough to a drug dealer's address to confuse a SWAT team! Don't want an incendiary grenade to go off while you sleep? Then stop being a toddler in a crib! And if you don't want the NSA to record everything, just give up all modern technology! (Don't become Amish, though, because then you're forcing the poor government to make you install a sewer system!)

    All sarcasm aside: Christ, what an asshole!

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    "those who support expansive gun rights as a protection against excessive government power should strongly consider how much government intrusion and expanded power they're willing to trade for those rights."

    Couldn't have said better myself! Now off to the Ministry of Love with you.

    - Big Brother.

    Seriously shouldn't reading 1984 be required to work for a civil liberties org. War is not peace. Freedom is not slavery. Ignorance is not strength.

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    Wierdly it seems he completely missed that anyone "who supports expansive gun rights as protection against excessive government", have defacto already considered exactly how much intrusion and expanded power they are willing to trade - none.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    George Orwell ( Eric Blair) is happier dead. No one enjoys being correct all the time.

  • jjjjj||

    The ACLU is doing this because there's a Reign of Terror going on amongst the left. It's pretty damn unforgiving and it's "off with your head" if you do anything that shows any respect towards Trump, Republicans, conservatives, or, to sum it all up, non-left. The ACLU is in tune with this and where before they might say "the Republican president has a right to say XYZ," they now keep clear of anything that will result in their heads getting chopped off. Just look at what's happened to Alan Dershowitz.

    Opportunism is fine, or expected, if you're a politician or company, but you have lost the respect of anyone outside of the left. And when you finally screw up and the left turns on you, you will not have anyone to turn to. At least Dershowitz still has some respect from conservatives and a place to go after the left rejected him.

  • Naaman Brown||

    So the unforgiving left would sic Kathy Griffin on the ACLU is they got out of line?
    That's gruesome.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Am I that ancient, that once upon a time, we could bullshit, agree to disagree, and go back to beer-drinking and skirt- chasing?

  • MBmb||

    So the ACLU is about "racial justice" now. Makes sense. First time seeing this phrase, but surely it won't be the last. It's more frank and honest than "social justice". Hopefully they and their allies can let the pretense drop and stick with the truth from now on.
    I somewhat regret my one and only ACLU donation now, but am certainly glad I didn't donate more. They managed to pull one over me, though.

  • FlameCCT||

    A merican
    C ommunist
    L osers
    U nited

    Progressivism is just Communism with better propaganda!

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    The propoganda is this same, the difference is in the guns.

  • Wrath0fKahn||

    I take it this is a liberals' attempt at victim blaming?

  • Uncle Jay||

    Free speech in America?
    That's worse than Hitler.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    And if you disagree, you're Stalin.
    ( A Georgian, oddly enough not a Russian ) (( Not like a Georgian from Atlanta))
    If I am being too pedantic, rest assured: I mean no disrespect.

  • John B. Egan||

    'Liberty Makes Us Unfree, Says the ACLU' ... Just another Tighty-Rightie 'red meat' article... Either the author didn't read the memo, is incapable of understanding it, or is late on his rent and has nothing sensible to rave on about. MAGANation!

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    And newby DU troll retard retards.....troll score=D-.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Nicely done J.D. I'm old enough to remember Skokie, when I became aware of the ACLU. I don't give a shit about some ragtag group of Nazis but I was left with a lot of respect for the organization for defending them. Over the years that respect has turned into antipathy. Their version of "civil rights" is nothing more than progressive identity politics. If you're looking for an organization that actually defends civil rights it is Institute for Justice.

  • Will Seth||

    IJ rocks. especially defending economic freedoms.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Nothing worse than Illinois Nazis.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Except maybe the SF City Council..

  • gaoxiaen||

    Nihilists. Especially Egyptian Nihilists.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Proto Crypto Egyptian Dr Phones Nihilists.
    Let us insist on specificity, neh?

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    I swear I typed in Dr. Phibes.

  • Mark22||

    I don't give a shit about some ragtag group of Nazis but I was left with a lot of respect for the organization for defending them

    Looks like a cynical publicity stunt: "We can't be communists, we even defend Nazis! Everybody knows that communists and Nazis hate each other like the Bloods and the Crips!"

  • Brett Bellmore||

    A publicity stunt, with the added benefit of giving the right a bad name by giving its worst elements publicity.

    The left are so desperate to paint the right as Nazis and Klan members, that when they can't find any real ones, they hire actors to show up at conservative events dressed in white robes.

  • DrZ||

    "Liberty Makes Us Unfree, Says the ACLU"

    This Wednesday is Good Friday and there will be a woman's club meeting for men only. The admission is free. You pay at the door, walk inside, pull up a chair and sit on the floor.

  • tommhan||

    It is really sad when those that are supposed to protect our freedoms start to decide to limit our freedoms. Sad indeed.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    I eliminated my annual donation to the ACLU and doubled my donation to Wikipedia. Wikipedia does what they're supposed to. If the ACLU gets their act together I'd be happy to shift the money back to them. Right now I'm not optimistic.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Wikipedia is getting pretty bad too. The overwhelmingly leftist moderators have twisted all the rules to favor leftist points of view in all controversial articles.

    In 2001 it made sense to have an encyclopedia that simply summarized and collected material from primary sources like newspapers, wire services, books, and TV news. The primary sources did not even have Wikipedia remotely in mind when they wrote their material. So valuing "verifiability, not truth" made sense back then.

    Ten years later, Wikipedia gets more views than any of its primary sources, probably more views than the top 100 combined. The tail is now wagging the dog; newspapers print falsehoods purely to get them inserted into Wikipedia articles. The "reliable sources" criteria are so vague that it's basically become that mainstream media is reliable but alt media is not. No amount of false reporting can remove CNN, NYT, WaPo, etc from reliable source status.

  • Carey J||

    The ACLU has NEVER been on the side of "normal" people.

  • Will Seth||

    I thought it was the defense of free speech that was contrary to your values that made free speech worth something.

  • Robert Crim||

    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY!

    Wait: I think I've heard that somewhere else before.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Probably while the clock struck thirteen as you crossed Victory Square...

  • Rockabilly||

    FUCK the ACLU = American Communist League United !!!!!

  • PleaseNoSteppy||

    Anybody claiming that gun restrictions didnt exist before the 30s is a moron and needs to look up the Black Codes during Reconstruction.

    I agree with the ACLU entirely here and find the OP to be extremely misleading. As we have seen in this country, more and more guns haven't led to more ajd more civil liberties. The opposite is the case.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Another retarded DU refugee.....troll score=D. You are too stupid to comment on a 2 chill piece, back to Mom's basement , skippy.

  • buybuydandavis||

    I'm surprised it took the SJWs this long to converge the ACLU

  • Modus Pwnens||

    You know what the funniest part is? The Charlottesville incidents were an enormous boon to the left. Had the ACLU not fought for the whackos to march there, the leftists would have been deprived of a valuable propaganda item. Part of me suspects that that's exactly why the ACLU has helped far-right-extremist groups get their time in the spotlight -- to provide material for their pals at SPLC and NAACP to terrify wealthy, guilty leftists into coughing up some cash.

    For practical purposes, the new restrictive ACLU policy is probably WORSE for the left than the old one. So I won't complain.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    ACLU substitute: Institute for Justice

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    Am receiving troll-bot solicitations from Jenny from Kolikat. Really?
    Kali Ma Shaktutey.

  • Grabthar's Hammer||

    FWIW, have been to Calcutta. Nasty place. My traveling companion insisted on bathing in the sacred waters of the Ganges. Well, he got some sacred infections that puzzled the Meds at the Tropical Disease Lab. Happily for me, I bathed in Scotch. Indian variety, not so bad after the first half- liter.

  • Arkyhog||

    I suggest a name change to "Some of American Civil Liberties Union".

  • Fredar||

    "The FBI wants back doors into cell phones because terrorists and criminals occasionally use encryption? You wouldn't have to worry about overreaching law enforcement if you'd just drop your stubborn advocacy for privacy."

    Damn those evil government agents in their hidden underground bunkers monitoring our daily life and reading our emails while eating popcorn. Probably laughing about my music and movie preferences. Commienazi police state is only a matter of time.

    Might as well ban the police from entering your homes, searching you, and questioning you. This would stop all privacy violations, but would also make the police kinda pointless.

    There's being critical of the government and the law enforcement, and then there's just being paranoid and thinking everyone in the government is evil and plotting against you.

  • onebornfree||

    The ACLU has been "bought out" by Soros, so has the EFF, apparently.

    REALITY CHECK!:"Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [i.e.taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams, which cannot be "reformed", "improved", or "limited" in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature." http://onebornfree-mythbusters.blogspot.com/ Regards, onebornfree

  • ||

    "Speech that denigrates [marginalized] groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality..."

    ...aaaaaaand they're gone [Trey Parker voice].

    The ACLU is now, more than ever, a selective hierarchy of rights. Some people's rights are now more equal than others, and black face/trans face is racist and homophobic.

  • Reggie||

    "...the disgusting nature of the offenders makes it a good test of one's loyalty to a principle." - Ayn Rand

  • Mark22||

    What purpose is served by the American Civil Liberties Union?

    The original purpose was to protect communists in the US against government investigations. As a political fig leaf, they also took on some other cases. But they have never been a politically neutral organization in defense of civil liberties.

    Roger Baldwin (founder of the ACLU): "I am for socialism, disarmament, and, ultimately, for abolishing the state itself... I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and the sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal."

  • Pump Distributor||

    Yes, I knew a guy who was practically a communist who thought Obama was not a liberal, but was relatively conservative.

  • Alan@.4||

    Regarding the ACLU, the following question comes to mind. With respect to Mr., Mrs. or Ms. ordinary, law abiding citizen harassed by government over and or about possession, acquisition or lawful use of firearms, when did the vaunted ACLU ever come to the defense of such person or persons?

  • SeekingRationalThought||

    Well said. The ACLU is a shadow of its former self having become a politically correct, agenda driven organization. I stopped my contributions years ago and, instead, now donate to the Federalist Society. Not a perfect replacement, but it at least maintains creditable intellectual standards as opposed to today's ACLU.
    .

  • Donald458||

    They chose sides a long time ago. They're the Democratic Civil Liberties Union now; a wholly own subsidiary of the DNC.

  • GBOHR||

    The ACLU has a long history of hypocrisy. One only need look at their reaction to Watergate and the horrific jurisprudence being practiced at that time. Nixon was their sworn enemy (as was everyone working for him) and the ACLU was encouraging the abuses coming from the legislative and judicial branches. Even when people were railroaded into prison without any semblance of due process or a fair trial, they sat on their hands. The hypocrisy was palpable, funding started drying up, and something needed to be done to get the spotlight off of the glaring contradictions.

    This led to their robust defense of the Nazis marching through Skokie, IL (a predominantly Jewish town at the time). The fact they supplied lots of Jewish attorneys to defend the rights of Nazis was used to "prove" the ACLU's unshakeable commitment to civil liberties. In reality, it was used as PR to cover up their egregious behavior during Watergate.

  • Buy good backlink||

    What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?

  • TECHNCAL STOCK RESEARCH||

    Not everybody takes alarm at the new ACLU guidelines. Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen said that only the national board may change policy, and "would never let the staff get away with in effect modifying policy through the stratagem of implementation guidelinesTechnical Stock

  • StackOfCoins||

    American Cucked Liberals Union

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