Thursday, May 25, 2006

ACLU against free speech for its board members

The irony here is way too rich! Get a load of this:
The American Civil Liberties Union, which prides itself on its defense of free speech, is considering new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization.

"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals. The reason?

"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the ACLU adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.
Translation: "Free speech is cool, so long as it doesn't cost the ACLU money! If it does, then shut the hell up!" How does that sit well with others?
Some former board members were appalled by the proposals, the New York Times reports.

Nat Hentoff, a writer and former ACLU board member, declared:

"For the national board to consider promulgating a gag order on its members β€” I can't think of anything more contrary to the reason the ACLU exists.”
Muriel Morisey, a law professor at Temple University and another former board member, said the proposals were an effort to stifle dissent.

"It sets up a framework for punitive action,” she told the Times. The proposals state that "a director may publicly disagree with an ACLU policy position, but may not criticize the ACLU board or staff."
This defense of the policy is laughable:
But Wendy Kaminer, a board member who has been critical of some decisions made by the organization's leadership, pointed out: "If you disagree with a policy position, you are implicitly criticizing the judgment of whoever adopted the position."
Uh...yeah! I'd be critical of anyone who purports to be a proponent of free speech who then subsequently tries to stifle said speech! Ms. Kaminer seems to imply that not only is it wrong to exercise First Amendment rights if it costs the ACLU money, but it is equally wrong to exercise First Amendment rights if it hurts the ACLU leadership's feelings or gives said leadership a figurative "black eye."

Holy shizit...I may have just officially heard it all!