American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero apologized this week after the organization was criticized for changing a quote from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be gender-neutral.
“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity,” Ginsburg said during her 1993 Senate confirmation hearings. “It is a decision she must make for herself. When government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”
But the ACLU removed “women” and instead tweeted the message:
“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a [person’s] life, to [their] well-being and dignity…When the government controls that decision for [people], [they are] being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for [their] own choices.”
The edits were rightly mocked on social media, with critics claiming Ginsburg would have been disappointed by the changes.
You have become the exact type of language-bending Orwellian institution you once opposed.
— Colin Moriarty (@notaxation) September 22, 2021
Even far-left columnist Michelle Goldberg called it “a ham-handed attempt to make the quote to conform to current progressive norms around gender neutrality.”
While Romero said that in the future the organization won’t substantively alter anyone’s quotes, he added, “Having spent time with Justice Ginsburg, I would like to believe that if she were alive today, she would encourage us to evolve our language to encompass a broader vision of gender, identity and sexuality.”
That’s quite the caveat and assumption, as is the conclusion of his additional comment noting, “My colleagues do a fantastic job of trying to understand a reality that people who seek abortions are not only women. That reality exists.”
The nonprofit, which claims to defend civil liberties, long ago was overtaken by insufferable young progressives bent on transforming it into another left-wing advocacy group.
Just as, with few exceptions, we should not hold men of the past responsible for today’s moral standards, we don’t rewrite history to conform to modern sensitivities.
“Demands for greater sensitivity should not prompt a literal rewriting of history,” Robby Suave opined at Reason Tuesday. “Progressive thought leaders of the very, very recent past recognized fundamental differences between men and women—it’s absurd to pretend otherwise, and to obscure this fact by changing the speech they used.”
When even the New York Times questions your principles, it’s time to rethink your purpose.