Sunday, July 02, 2006

ACLU against speech

ACLU doesn't allow its board members to speak. Unless they spout the party line. Oh, you thought the ACLU defends speech. In certain cases they do. On a rare occasion they defend a Christian or conservative. But the rule is: enforce the liberal party line. The LA Time has the story, told by Wendy Kaminer who left the ACLU's board over this.
Recently, the ACLU again considered censoring its board members, weighing new rules that would prohibit them from criticizing the organization publicly. This startling proposal was the culmination of a bitter internal battle over the organization's integrity and fidelity to principle that has spilled out into the media. Why would such a rule even be considered by a free-speech organization? According to ACLU leaders, some board members had been abusing their right to speak. They were referring to me and my former colleague on the ACLU board, Michael Meyers, so I don't approach this subject as an observer. Meyers and I had been threatened last year with removal or suspension after we publicly criticized the ACLU's reported use of data-mining practices to gather information on members and donors. The effort to punish us was aborted only after a New York Times reporter inquired into it; the board then established a committee on the fiduciary rights and responsibilities of its members in an apparent effort to pass rules that would keep us in line. The committee's proposal, issued in May, was a stunning repudiation of the ACLU's core principles. It included provisions that prohibited board members from criticizing the ACLU board or staff publicly and that disparaged whistle-blowing (conduct the ACLU often applauds when it occurs in other institutions). Individual board members were admonished not to "call into question the integrity of the process in arriving at the board's decision."
That says it. The ACLU was using data-mining techniques to gather information on donors and contributors. Two directors objected. The organization tried to shut them up. It's the old rule: "Do as I say, not as I do." You know "Get in line! We are busy criticizing President Bush for limiting the speech of Al-Qaida."

No comments: