The ACLU has had a spotty track record in recent years, but now 200 staffers have gone so far as to sign an open letter condemning the universal right to free speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been around since 1920, with a commitment to protect people’s fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In the same decade, the ACLU began working alongside the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the organization has been actively defending the rights of civil rights, anti-war, pro-war, and all varieties of protesters ever since. The ACLU even went to bat to ensure the rights of the tiki-torchers in Charlottesville were not infringed upon, despite the near-universal derision towards Nazis. Of course, defending unpopular speech is the whole point, since popular speech doesn’t need protection. That critical fact is lost on a worrying number of ACLU staffers, however, as demonstrated by 200 signatures on an open letter condemning the universal right to free speech.
The organization was divided about the tragic Charlottesville situation, with internal detractors citing the ensuing violence as a just cause to restrict free speech for some. Of course, neo-Nazis are not the only people that get violent, and the Antifa agitators that showed up in Charlottesville were also armed and ready to commit violence. We’re not supposed to talk about that, though.
The ACLU has around 1300 full time staff, so 200 signatures is far from a majority of the organization, and there is still plenty of stalwart free-speech support within the ranks. The organization has already decided that a protester exercising their second amendment right is no longer protected by the first amendment, which is a departure from its historic defense of the armed Black Panthers, among others. The deadly weapon in Charlottesville was a car, of course, which totally enfeebles their justification for the restriction.
If you’re wondering why anybody that opposes basic civil liberties would work at the ACLU, you’re not alone. There are reasons that animal rights activists – or those with a debilitating fear of clowns – don’t take jobs at McDonald’s: It’s idiotic.
But there’s still some hope for the once-august institution. In August, LA Times reported a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which removed or rejected advertisements with little meaningful justification. The ACLU’s lawsuit gained some notoriety for representing not just organizations like PETA and the ACLU itself, but from controversial political pundits, like Milo Yiannopoulos.
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