Wendy Kaminer writes that “The ACLU is becoming very selective about what it considers ‘free’ speech:
“ACLU Defends Nazi’s Right to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters,” the humor magazine The Onion announced in 1999. Those of us who loved the ACLU, and celebrated its willingness to defend the rights of Nazis and others who had no regard for our rights, considered the joke a compliment. Today it’s more like a reproach. Once the nation’s leading civil liberties group and a reliable defender of everyone’s speech rights, the ACLU is being transformed into just another liberal human-rights group that reliably defends the rights of liberal speakers.
This transformation is gradual, unacknowledged and not readily apparent, since evidence of it lies mainly in cases the ACLU does not take. It’s naturally easier to know what an organization is doing (and advertising) than what it is not doing. But a review of recent free-speech press releases turns up only a handful of cases in which ACLU state affiliates defended the rights of conservative, antigay or otherwise politically incorrect speakers. And lately the national organization has been remarkably quiet in several important free-speech cases and controversies.
Cognitive dissonance after 9/11 previously caused a similar transformation that has dramatically diluted Amnesty International’s reputation, as Steven Den Beste noted four years ago. So I can’t say I’m surprised to see the ACLU already far down the same path.
(Via Betsy Newmark.)