The ACLU has fallen. Nat Hentoff the famous writer for The Village Voice and vehement defender of free speech warned us before his recent death that the group had lost its way. The ACLU has been hollowed out and it has married the state. It’s a shame. The speech brownshirts finally broke the organization.
What purpose is served by the American Civil Liberties Union? I know that the words “civil liberties” appear right there in the name, but it’s increasingly difficult to take that seriously as the organization’s mission. Just a month after leaked internal ACLU case-selection guidelines revealed the organization to be stepping back from viewpoint-neutral advocacy of free speech rights, the ACLU claims that vigorous advocacy for self-defense rights is to blame for government expansion of the security state.
“Mass shootings create a pervasive sense of insecurity and anxiety that politicians and policymakers will inevitably seek to address,” senior policy analyst Jay Stanley insists on the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project blog. As a result, he argues, “those who support expansive gun rights as a protection against excessive government power should strongly consider how much government intrusion and expanded power they’re willing to trade for those rights.”
This is the old “why do you make him hit you?” argument applied to civil liberties. It excuses the actions of the abuser—the state in this case—as reactions to the missteps of the abused. But it’s actually a step further removed, because most gun owners fly entirely below the state’s radar. They’re among the general population getting slapped by policies that politicians justify as responses to the crimes of a tiny minority.
This is also a blame-the-innocent argument that can be applied to so many civil liberties.