ACLU Won’t Support Free Speech If It’s Offensive
The ACLU admits it doesn’t support free speech as written in the Bill of Rights so maybe it’s time to start calling them what they are — Leftists. They were always hard-left but they use to believe in free speech. Imagine a group calling itself a civil liberties union but they’re wishy-washy on free speech.
This is what the hard-left does. They support free speech to ensure their own survival but when they have enough power, they ditch it.
The ACLU no longer supports the First Amendment if it negatively impacts their commitments to social justice, racial equality, and women’s rights, given the possibility that offensive speech might undermine ACLU goals, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
“Our defense of speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which we are also committed,” wrote ACLU staffers in a confidential memo obtained by former board member Wendy Kaminer.
As Ms. Kaminer writes in The Wall Street Journal:
The speech-case guidelines reflect a demotion of free speech in the ACLU’s hierarchy of values. Their vague references to the “serious harm” to “marginalized” people occasioned by speech can easily include the presumed psychological effects of racist or otherwise hateful speech, which is constitutionally protected but contrary to ACLU values. Faced with perceived conflicts between freedom of speech and “progress toward equality,” the ACLU is likely to choose equality. If the Supreme Court adopted the ACLU’s balancing test, it would greatly expand government power to restrict speech.
In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), for example, the ACLU defended the First Amendment rights of a Ku Klux Klan leader prosecuted for addressing a small rally and calling for “revengence” against blacks and Jews. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Clarence Brandenburg’s conviction, narrowly defining incitement to violence as speech both intended and likely to cause imminent illegal action. Brandenburg made an essential distinction between advocacy and action, which progressives who equate hate speech with actual discrimination or violence seek to erase.
The ACLU would be hard pressed to take Brandenburg’s case today, given its new guidelines. The organization hasn’t yet endorsed a ban on hate speech or a broader definition of incitement. The guidelines affirm that “speakers have a right to advocate violence.” But even if Brandenburg managed to pass the new balancing test for speech cases, some participants at his rally were armed, and, according to the guidelines, “the ACLU generally will not represent protesters who seek to march while armed.”
Kaminer notes that the ACLU is free to change its policies but the secretiveness makes it suspect:
All this is the ACLU’s prerogative. Organizations are entitled to revise their values and missions. But they ought to do so openly. The ACLU leadership had apparently hoped to keep its new guidelines secret, even from ACLU members. They’re contained in an internal document deceptively marked, in all caps, “confidential attorney-client work product.” I’m told it was distributed to select ACLU officials and board members, who were instructed not to share it. According to my source, the leadership is now investigating the “leak” of its new case-selection guidelines. President Trump might sympathize.
It is always surprising to me that former board members like Ms. Kaminer or Law Professor Alan Dershowitz think the ACLU was ever about civil liberties.
The ACLU is capitulating to the anti-free speech activists on the college campuses instead of sticking with their mission. They won’t support anyone’s free speech rights if they believe in the Second Amendment. They are a joke.
The ACLU says it’s just giving more latitude to its branches to prioritize, yet this was a confidential memo.
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