ACLU — Too Liberal?

I hear people state on blogs and at work that the ACLU is too liberal. This is the reason they do not join. Since the sole charter of the ACLU is to defend the constitution of the United States, I tend to interpret such statements as indicating that the constitution is too liberal. However, when pressed for the reasons that people feel the ACLU is too liberal, the number one reason for this belief appears to be gun control.

Here is the ACLU’s statement on gun control. Please read it before continuing.

So, the first question each of us should answer is whether any of us truly believe that it should be every citizen’s right to own nuclear weapons. Some will probably state that they do, but I expect this will be just for shock value. I would like to know, do you believe, truly believe, that it is every citizen’s right to own nuclear weapons? Chemical weapons? Biological weapons? No? I didn’t really think so.

So, it seems likely that we are all in agreement that there should be some form of limitations placed on our second amendment rights. This is the primary point that the good lawyers working for the ACLU cite when they maintain a neutral stance on the subject of gun control. They simply leave it up to the states to decide exactly where to draw the line in a reasonable right to bear arms.

Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you feel that this should be decided once and for all at a national level. Personally, I stand with the ACLU in saying that I don’t know the right limitations on arms ownership. Some maintain that an armed society is safer. Some maintain that an armed society is freer from the risk of martial law. Some maintain that too many people are killed by armed criminals. Some maintain that when guns are illegal only criminals will have them. Personally, I would support our right to arm bears.

Many people have a wide variety of reasonable points on this subject. I do not claim to have the answers.

What I do claim is that the ACLU does an excellent job of standing up for our constitutional rights on a wide variety of subjects. I claim that they are protecting our right to free speech, our right to freedom of religion, and many other of our rights. This is important work, especially in these times when so many are trying so hard to take away the rights granted to us by our foresighted founding fathers.

So, what I would say is that if you believe in the freedoms and liberties that have been the foundation of this country for over 200 years, now is a crucial time to support the organization that has been defending our rights in and out of court since 1920. Remember, it is very easy to give away our rights; it is extremely difficult to win them back.

Please support the ACLU, or at least have some respect for their important mission and work. This is a completely non-partisan issue, unless you think that either the Democratic Party (formed 1792) or the Republican Party (formed 1854) drew up the constitution (hint: the constitution was written 1787)

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19 Responses to ACLU — Too Liberal?

  1. Will says:

    The problem I have with the ACLU is their selection of who’s freedoms they will fight for. If it’s in the minority than they have no problem offering lawyers and making a scene. But if it’s a white guy or a catholic who is having their rights trampled on the ACLU almost always seems silent.

    If the organization is truly there to fight for everyone’s constitutional rights than they would fight for mine too. Instead they would rather defend and stand behind people that would silence me and crush what few freedoms I have left.

  2. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Will,

    Yes. I hear that too. But, really. How persecuted is the majority? When exactly are the Catholics being persecuted? What are the hardships? Are white Catholics discriminated against when they run for office the way atheists are? Is it white Catholics that get the substandard education? Is it Catholics that must watch the name of a god in whom they do not believe get his/her name all over our money? Or, are you claiming that not getting prayer in public schools is somehow discrimination against Catholics? Sorry Will, I hope you are treated truly equally before the law. But, when I hear about the discrimination of the majority by the minority, somehow, my heart somehow fails to bleed. For that, I truly apologize.

    Oh, and my point still stands, even if you do not believe ACLU to be perfect, who else will defend your constitutional rights? Not the republican party, not even the democrats. ACLU just may be the only game in town for trying to keep our rights and liberties.

  3. bobbo says:

    Yes, the ACLU’s position on 2nd Amend is TOTALLY appropriate

    I think Wills post is demonstrative on “the problem.” When the majority sees a minority having its rights protected, they feel they are being abused. As in, “I’m not free unless YOU are oppressed.”

    and so, the problem with the ACLU is that it does support the Constitution and YES, the constitution IS TOO LIBERAL.

    Have a general constitutional convention today, and the bill of rights would fall to such majority interests. Easier to imagine ACLU prosecuted as a terrorist support organization than as the spearpoint of all OUR freedoms.

  4. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    I strongly disagree with Will’s point. However, I know others that have voiced the same opinion. These are educated and good people, if there is such a thing as a good human. IMO, and Will can speak for himself if he checks back, it is not, “I’m not free unless YOU are oppressed.” It is merely, “I can no longer do what I once did. Therefore, I am oppressed.”

    Other than that, I agree with you. I just think it does not stem from meanness but rather a complete and utter inability to put oneself in the shoes of others. It also denies the true meaning of oppressed and as such, the attitude can become offensive to those who’ve actually been oppressed. Even atheists, the least respected group in the country at the moment are not being oppressed to the degree that blacks, gays, and even Jews have been in recent times.

    That said, democracy has two key features, majority rule AND protection of the minority. It is the latter bit that many forget about.

  5. bobbo says:

    and for you Scott, I should have added:

    Religion: tyranny by God.

    ((No template that allows for quick edits before someone else posts?))

  6. bobbo says:

    I let it go, but I come back. Basic definitions:

    Dictatorship: tryranny by one.
    Democracy: tyranny by the majority
    Constitutional Guaranties of Liberty: tryranny by the courts.

    No exceptions.

  7. John Q says:

    “But if it’s a white guy or a catholic who is having their rights trampled on the ACLU almost always seems silent.”

    Boy, how uninformed can one person be! The ACLU went to bat for Rush Limbaugh over gov’t prying inot his drug habit, and many of us recall that they even defended the right of the Klan to march in Skokie Il. Personally, I believe that supporting the ACLU shows one to be far more of a US patriot than the childish wearing of flag lapel pins.

  8. Misanthropic Scott says:

    John Q,

    Excellent points about Rush Limbaugh and the KKK. I hadn’t heard about the former and had forgotten about the latter.

  9. Higghawker says:

    I’m not a fan of them as sometimes I hate what they decide to take a stand on and other times I’m glad they’re taking a position on an issue. The bottom line for me is that I always prefer two sides with totally opposite views fighting it out. A compromise is always better than having something jammed down peoples throats. It reminds me that we have a Congress that puts politics above taking a stand against the abuse of power of the Executive Branch and upholding the Constitution. The founding fathers gave Congress more power than the Executive Branch so that we wouldn’t wind up with a King. I think they’d be pretty unhappy with where we’re at today.

  10. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Higghawker,

    I agree on the balance of power. Sometimes though, one side in a debate is being steamrolled over by the majority. This is why the ACLU often defends people I find morally repugnant, for example, the KKK. So, what you really need to look at in terms of the ACLU is whether they are defending the constitution. In most (all?) cases, I think you’ll find that that is exactly what they are doing to the best of their ability. As such, I find them an organization highly worthy of my support, even when they defend the likes of the Klan in their right to peaceable assembly and free speech.

    They are also taking a strong stand to attempt to win back the rights that our present administration is trying to erode as quickly as possible. ACLU has taken a very strong stand against many portions of the PATRIOT act. They are fighting diligently to restore habeas corpus. They really are doing great work, even if you may have a disagreement with them on minor points.

  11. BubbaRay says:

    “The question therefore is not whether to restrict arms ownership, but how much to restrict it. If that is a question left open by the Constitution, then it is a question for Congress to decide.”

    Oh FSM, let not *this* Congress decide anything that has a bearing on how the US or its Constitution will survive.

    The ACLU is an admirable organization, but sometimes I disagree with their strategy, tactics and position. They’re not always defending the Constitution (that “piece of paper” as Dumby puts it) outright, sometimes their interpretation bothers me.

    But on the whole, they do a job no one else seems willing to do. And for that, they have my thanks and applause.

    Nice job, Scott!

  12. bobbo says:

    Bubba—any thinking person disagrees with any other *anything* from time to time. Such a statement becomes interesting only when the specifics are given.

    For my education, what case/issue has the ACLU taken up that was not constitutionally based?

    FREEDOM is other people doing what you don’t like. Hence, I don’t like the KKK and my own comfort level is stretched when I see the ACLU defend them, as it was with defending Rush Limbarg. So==those cases are VERY instructive on learning to seperate the personalities from the underlying liberty issue?

    With the above in mind, there is only ONE case I have in mind that I would actually fault the ACLU on and that is their defense of NAMBLA. What the ACLU characterizes as free speech, I would opine is a criminal conspiracy.

    Anybody have other issues that the ACLU is actually wrong on, or just cases that make them uncomfortable????????

  13. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    I agree in principle, but not in total. Much as I hate both groups, is NAMBLA more of a criminal conspiracy than the KKK? Isn’t one a conspiracy to (at a minimum) endanger the welfare of a minor and more often, actually commit statutory rape while the other is conspiracy to commit hate crime or at least advocate it?

    It’s a tough call. I think in both cases, the ACLU is taking the position that talking about it is free speech. Doing it is a crime. The same could be said for any idle discussions about criminal activity, such as is in some of the replies on a recent dvorak blog topic pertaining to ownership of weapons.

  14. bobbo says:

    The confusing issue is both involve speech, so the difference is how much they actually ADVOCATE or worse FACILITATE action? Thats all fact dependent.

    My own attitude is based on KKK often just advocates for white culture with only the implication that blacks etc are inferior. That seems like a pure free speech issue to me as wrong headed as it is. When the KKK actually facilitates harming disfavored groups, then they become a criminal organization.

    NAMBLA however, under the pretext of free speech distributes information on how, where, when and how to keep secret the meeting up with the kiddies? I don’t know if that is true, just what I have read.

    Now, without exception, when I read the actual cases the ACLU gets involved in, I find their activities completely appropriate. Maybe I actually should read their NAMBLA filings before going off half cocked? Where would the blogoshere be then???

    My concern/issue remains valid, my facts are questionable so far. Put the facts on hold.

  15. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Not to let ACLU’s position paper actually get in the way of a good debate, but here’s their position on NAMBLA.

    Short answer on ACLU FAQ page.
    More detailed answer to the issue here.

    I’m going to exercise my privilege as blog meister to declare that I am NOT going to invoke Godwin’s Law on the following quote because it is verbatim from ACLU’s site. The final paragraph of their statement is a powerful reminder of what free speech means. It means the crime is not in the speaking, but in the acting.

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

    So, the Nazi’s out of the bag on this one. Let’s try to keep any further references relevant to the conversation.

  16. Chris says:

    Will is correct. The ACLU does protect the rights of US citizens, however, if you are not a minority, they will simply ignore you. Just watch any issue on the news that involves a straight white man for proof. Straight white man= no coverage.

  17. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Chris,

    As I’ve said to the others who’ve stated that, please cite some examples of this. Stating as you do that I watch for it is putting the burden of your proof on me. Please post a few links to stories where the majority is being oppressed by the minority and ACLU ignores the issue.

    I am often amazed by how many people feel that rhetoric such as yours is proof of something. I am open to the idea that you may be correct. But, don’t expect me to believe it without some level of evidence. I’m sure if things are as you say, you will find at least a few articles from reputable journals covering the issue. If not, how do you hear about it?

  18. Craig says:

    It’s been a few days, Chris must have found a lot of evidence to back up his assertion and is spending all of this time getting it organized into a concise rebuttal. Way to go, Chris.

  19. Mister Fusion says:

    Chris,

    I drove home tonight. I didn’t get pulled over because I was black. So why should the ACLU defend me?

    My kid goes to a great school. It isn’t segregated as to color. So why should the ACLU defend me?

    I am heterosexual. There was no problem when I married a most wonderful person who loves me. Why should the ACLU defend me?

    The point I’m making here is that I fit into what most would call the majority. White, blue eyes, fair hair, educated. Since most laws and regulations are made by and for those similar to me, I don’t need the same protections as those who get pulled over for driving while black, or can’t get a decent education for their kids, or marry the one they love. Those people are on the fringes of society and are most vulnerable to abuse by the majority.

    I don’t need the ACLU to defend me, but many others do.

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