First Amendment Sliding Scale


The A.C.L.U. policy has been to defend free speech even if the speakers are Nazis, or even liberal Democrats. A writer in the New York Times says that strategy should change.

K-Sue Park in the NY Times:

…this approach implies that the country is on a level playing field, that at some point it overcame its history of racial discrimination to achieve a real democracy, the cornerstone of which is freedom of expression.

Actually, this implies that we all have the same rights. The writer is convinced that the American Civil Liberties Union should not focus so much on First Amendment case law. No, I’m not making this up.

The danger that communities face because of their speech isn’t equal. The A.C.L.U.’s decision to offer legal support to a right-wing cause, then a left-wing cause, won’t make it so. Rather, it perpetuates a misguided theory that all radical views are equal. And it fuels right-wing free-speech hypocrisy. Perhaps most painful, it also redistributes some of the substantial funds the organization has received to fight white supremacy toward defending that cause.

The A.C.L.U. needs a more contextual, creative advocacy when it comes to how it defends the freedom of speech. The group should imagine a holistic picture of how speech rights are under attack right now, not focus on only First Amendment case law.

If I understand the term, the last this we all need in this country is more “contextual, creative advocacy.” We need disciplined and consistent application of free speech concepts. This week every politician in the country has decided that the easiest thing is to blame the so-called alt-right for the troubles in Charlottesville…and to trip over each other to get to the cameras to denounce the KKK and Nazis.

Dudes! The KKK has been around for decades. Haven’t you already denounced them? Shouldn’t there be a central denunciation database by now? Lemme remind you…I hereby denounce those jerks. 

None of which solves the free expression problems laid bare by Charlottesville. Bad men and women with stupid ideas should still have the right to speak and assemble. That includes groups who hate Jews, Catholics and people of color. Oh, and it also includes conservatives and liberals. Racists and LGBTQ folks have exactly the same right  to express their views and to assemble peacefully. Occasionally the A.C.L.U. has stepped in to help these groups. 

“Contextual, creative advocacy.”  Just fancy words for “you can’t say that!”

This entry was posted in Free Speech, freedom, Protests, Really, Really Stupid and Evil, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to First Amendment Sliding Scale

  1. Ashterah says:

    This may become the mark for the day Free Speech died. Because obviously violence in response to words is bad, so we have to get rid of the words now. Not the violence. Which is utterly illogical and totally against all the principles this country was founded upon.

    No one should have to run to the podium to denounce Nazis. Like you said, they’ve already been denounced. It’s kind of a given for 99 percent of the population in America. However when others have decided to tar and feather normal people with thoughts that are different from theirs as Nazis, AND they are taken seriously… that’s when shit gets real. Doesn’t make the ones getting tarred as Nazis actual Nazis. But the accusation is all that it takes.

    Did these people never read Mein Kampf? The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich? Those books tell you about Nazis. I don’t honestly know anybody other than those idiots at Stormfront that actually are Nazis. And even then Stormfront can’t get Nazism correct, but that’s a whole other issue.

    We are doomed to repeat history because we fail to learn from it. We are now in the slow, excruciating death of the Republic. It was a good run, but the lowest common denomination, no matter what the persuation, always ruin it.

    Liked by 2 people

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