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May 24, 2006

THIS SEEMS RATHER IRONIC:

The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization's policies and internal administration.

"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals.

"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.

Given the organization's longtime commitment to defending free speech, some former board members were shocked by the proposals.

I don't agree with those who demonize the ACLU, but I'm disappointed in how it has declined over the past decade or two. The ACLU has been corrupted by its dependence on a comparatively small fundraising base, something that's common with nonprofits. The organization also seems to have been captured by the paid staff, which feels entitled to run things without the Board's actual input That's another common problem in the nonprofit world. But this is making clear just how far things have gone at the ACLU, at the expense of its ostensible mission.

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