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Thread: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

  1. #1
    Aexodus's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    http://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rig...oding-shift-in
    This week, an internal ACLU memo showed that the famed civil rights organization was making protection of the First Amendment a secondary concern, balancing it instead with issues of “racial justice, reproductive freedom, or a myriad of other rights, where the content of the speech we seek to protect conflicts with our policies on those matters, and/or otherwise is directed at menacing vulnerable groups of individuals.”

    This is stunning language. This is the group that once defended Nazis marching in Skokie, Ill., under the terms of the First Amendment, and won. The ACLU website brags, “The notoriety of the case caused some ACLU members to resign, but to many others the case has come to represent the ACLU's unwavering commitment to principle.” Yet, now the ACLU would presumably decline the case, stating that it might be too damaging to their other social justice priorities.

    The ACLU even announced that if a First Amendment speaker were to carry a gun, they would preemptively refrain from defending that speaker. Former board member Wendy Kaminer writes in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, “The speech-case guidelines reflect a demotion of free speech in the ACLU’s hierarchy of 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.”
    So what do you guys make of this? Will America go down the way of Canada, with all the given implications?

    He that will not reason is a bigot, He that cannot reason is a fool, He that dares not reason is a slave.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    I would appreciate a bit of context, information (not an article by an "opinion contributor") and your reasoned opinion about whatever you think it is going on.
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  3. #3
    Aexodus's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    The context is right there in the linked article. A private memo appears to show ACLU is wavering on free speech. I don’t see how it being an opinion piece makes it any less relevant.

    https://reason.com/blog/2018/06/21/a...mo-free-speech
    "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 memoobtained by former board member Wendy Kaminer.
    What do I think of it? I think it’s insane that they are considering a retreat from anything other than a ‘full-throated defense of free speech’.

    The memo also makes clear that the ACLU has zero interest in defending First Amendment rights in conjunction with Second Amendment rights. If controversial speakers intend to carry weapons, the ACLU "will generally not represent them."
    From Wall Street Journal

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-acl...ion-1529533065
    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."
    The nail in the coffin is how they have removed free speech from where it was in their hierarchy of values. Social justice is now more important, apparently.

    The American Civil Liberties Union has explicitly endorsed the view that free speech can harm “marginalized” groups by undermining their civil rights. “Speech that denigrates such groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality,” the ACLU declares in new guidelines governing case selection and “Conflicts Between Competing Values
    More articles: https://www.thedailybeast.com/memo-a...e-speech-cases
    http://amp.dailycaller.com/2018/06/2...d-communities/
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018...ities.amp.html
    Last edited by Aexodus; June 22, 2018 at 03:19 PM.

    He that will not reason is a bigot, He that cannot reason is a fool, He that dares not reason is a slave.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    ACLU is shifting to racial advocacy instead of free speech. Well, whatever floats their boat.

  5. #5
    NorseThing's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    The ACLU was initially focused on freedom of speech, but that focus back in the early part of the 20th century has been evolving ever since. They were involved in the Miranda court case which is clearly a civil liberties issue and not strictly a speech issue. I think the opening thread post here is making way too much about any change of focus. Give us an example where the ACLU has ignored what you think is an important civil liberties issue or this is simply a waste of time.

  6. #6
    Aexodus's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    The issue isn’t that it has completely abandoned free speech, the issue is that it is no longer absolutist about free speech.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/...sive-advocacy/
    An internal memorandum confirms it: The American Civil Liberties Union is on the brink. The ACLU memo, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, deals with the question of how the group should balance “competing values” when choosing whether to defend free-speech cases in court. “Speech that denigrates [marginalized] groups,” the memo reads, “can inflict serious harms.” Accordingly, “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values” constitutes a reason not to defend it. This from a group that proudly touts its 1978 decision to stand up for the First Amendment rights of a group of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Ill. If the Skokie case demonstrated the ACLU’s “unwavering commitment to principle,” what does this memo evince?

    Founded under radical auspices, the American Union Against Militarism became the National Civil Liberties Bureau and then the ACLU under socialist Roger Baldwin. The name changes prefigured its transformation from a left-wing political agitator to a principled defender of constitutional rights. Over the next three decades, as the ACLU defended the notion of the public square, litigated against loyalty oaths, and helped the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education, it continued to entrench itself in the political mainstream.

    He that will not reason is a bigot, He that cannot reason is a fool, He that dares not reason is a slave.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    Can you give us one example of free speech that is not protected anymore? Perhaps "kill al *s"?

  8. #8
    Aexodus's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    The path this sets the US on strays close to what Europe and Britain have done. Once you put racial advocacy before free speech, free speech is toast.

    He that will not reason is a bigot, He that cannot reason is a fool, He that dares not reason is a slave.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    So what case have they argued lately that has your panties in a wad? Give us something to work with, not some internal documentation.
    One thing is for certain: the more profoundly baffled you have been in your life, the more open your mind becomes to new ideas.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    Because speech that makes someone feels bad shouldn't be protected, apparently.


  11. #11
    Vanoi's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: Is the ACLU no-longer going to defend free speech?

    They just turned their attention to something else. Free speech is still pretty free here so I doubt much will change.
    Quote Originally Posted by RubiconDecision View Post
    Those who protect the right of terrorists to have Free Speech enable the bombings of innocents.

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