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I Hate What You Say, But …

March 19, 2011

“Why is the American Civil Liberties Union so un-American?”

Now there’s a question I hear a lot these days and to answer it properly takes a bit of time but it’s an answer that is important to listen to.

I’ve carried an A.C.L.U. card since 1969. And while I don’t have it tattooed on my arm, I carry it proudly because understanding the Constitution of the United States is, to me, more important than carrying a copy in my back pocket.

Recently, I’ve seen more websites and bumper stickers waiving flags and proclaiming “We the People” than I care to. The American flag shouldn’t be used to package some of the junk it’s being wrapped around these days. Nor should “We the People” be employed to suggest that some group has a corner on the notion of freedom.

From its inception in the early 20th century, the American Civil Liberties Union (the successor to the National Civil Liberties Bureau) has stood for the proposition that the guarantees of the Constitution apply to all who are within our borders regardless of the popularity of their particular ideology. Except for an embarrassing period when it banned communists from its ranks (yes, even the A.C.L.U. fell victim to the Red Scare), this organization has consistently been at the vanguard of defending both Americans and visitors from the tyranny of governmental intrusion in the exercise of those freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution to all within it jurisdiction.

“We The People” were not citizens of the United States. They were OF the United States which they were founding and the rights they embraced in that Constitution were and are secured to all. Those rights are not the exclusive province of individuals who subscribe to any religious or political persuasion nor are their protections or admonitions limited to the savory or unsavory rhetoric or behavior from time to time displayed. That fact is the beauty of what our Constitution created and sometimes it’s hard to understand its depth.

The stated mission of the A.C.L.U. is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” It is not limited to citizens of the United States. It is not limited to law abiding folks. It is not limited to those who speak for popular causes. In fact, the best work the A.C.L.U. has done may well be in championing the rights secured by the Constitution to exactly the individuals who many would strip of those rights.

Therein lies the importance of the organization.

Voltaire is often quoted (though it’s actually a misquote) as having said, “I hate what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.”

If you want to understand why the A.C.L.U. defended the right of Neo-Nazis to march in a Skokie or the obligation of the government to pay for attorneys to defend indigent persons accused of heinous crimes; if you can’t understand why it chose to file legal briefs in support of banning prayer in public schools or overturning immigration laws which foster racial profiling, remember that. Think about it.

It’s easy to get behind the equal protection of rights extended to folks with whom you are like minded, but they’re not the one’s whose rights need protecting.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2011 9:15 am

    At some point in the past what you say, and what I must assume you actually believe, may well have been true. Now though the ACLU has degenerated into nothing but a Left-wing, anti-American paper terrorism organization.

    Of course, given your apparent love of the Communists, that probably pleases you no end.

    You can be of the body of America or you can be an infection within that body. The choice is yours as are the consequences of that choice.

    we, the People know the cure for such infections and are more and more willing to undergo the necessary currretement.

    • cejesq permalink*
      March 19, 2011 10:25 am

      Quite honestly, this is the first piece of hate mail I’ve ever received. I’m not sure how to take it except to say I’m sorry you’re that angry about what seems to me a quite reasonable proposition.

      What exactly is a “curretement?”

      • March 20, 2011 8:50 am

        He means curettage — it’s a surgery which uses a scoop to remove unwanted tissue from a body cavity, particularly the uterus. It’s part of the termination procedure called D and C.

        Jonolan is a fairly widespread troll; he turns up here and there to proclaim himself one true defender of what’s good and true, and American, and Mom’s apple pie and that kind of crap. He likes to give the impression of cleverness where none exists, hence the incorrect use of a slightly-obscure word like curettement. It’s ironic that he uses the term, given his apparent hatred of female reproductive rights.

      • cejesq permalink*
        March 20, 2011 9:59 am

        Thanks, Mike, I suppose I should take is as a compliment, but honestly, I wasn’t trolling for any. 😉

      • March 20, 2011 1:31 pm

        Actually, I meant what I said, “currettement” – the scraping away of dead or diseased tissue. A bit arcane true, but I deliberately avoided the word, “curettage” because of the confusion that its modern as an abortion technique would cause.

        It also aptly serves as a metaphor what Americans are more and more willing to do in order to save our nation, our people, and our culture from the domestic enemies commonly known as Liberals.

        We will scrape away their disease from the body of America and consign what’s left of them to landfills and incinerators with rest of waste.

      • cejesq permalink*
        March 20, 2011 2:55 pm

        On the theory that hateful speech is better revealed in sunlight than hidden in shadows, I will continue to allow posts from Jonolan.

        Res Ipsa Loquitur.

  2. davisoftheapes1 permalink
    March 19, 2011 9:50 am

    Are there any instances of the ACLU defending right wing causes? Christian causes or those that may be labeled as Bible thumpers? I don’t mean “hate groups” like the KKK or White Patriot party but let’s say, Southern Baptists. Anti abortion groups who have “not” bombed clinics?

    In an effort to label myself, I DO NOT consider the Westboro Baptists to be Christian. I’ll have to say that I don’t have a positive opinion of the ACLU. Maybe you can change my mind.

    • cejesq permalink*
      March 19, 2011 10:35 am

      There are dozens of examples, though the one’s constantly thrown in my face are the ones you site specifically because they are so hard to understand. How about joining in the opposition to Oliver North’s conviction on the grounds that his “confession” violated his Fifth Amendment rights?

      Perhaps the one that will surprise you most was the recent ACLU position that state law enforcement officers in Florida violated Rush Limbaugh’s privacy rights by taking possession of his medical records as part of their criminal investigation into the right-wing commentator’s alleged “doctor-shopping” to feed his prescription-drug addiction.

  3. March 19, 2011 8:27 pm

    C, I think it is great that you continue to reach out and try to ‘teach’ and share your views….hopefully you are not preaching to the choir! Feels like ‘we the people’ are becoming more and more polarized… good luck!!

    • cejesq permalink*
      March 20, 2011 3:00 pm

      Thanks, Bobbi. Your fears appear well founded. I hope level heads and respectful disagreement will bring us to a better place.

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