Anti-ACLU Rant of the Week 5/26/05
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."-Voltaire
The right to express unpopular opinions, advocate despised ideas(NAMBLA) and display graphic images is something the ACLU has steadfastly defended for all of its history. Exception: in the case for pro-lifers.
The ACLU's Reproductive Rights Project has a lot to do with why the ACLU is so reluctnat to defend the rights of anti-abortion protesters.
"With a $2 million dollar budget and a staff of 17 employees, Janet Benshoof was the Union's most devoted activist for abortion rights.....she became so overextended in her approach that she advocated mob pressure on the judiciary; she pushed for "pro-choice" activists to march on court rooms where abortion cases were being heard."Twilight of LibertyTo the ACLU, anti-abortion protesters are not seen in the same light as civil rights demonstrators in the 60's, but as lunatic fascists out to destroy freedom.
"Hence, the reluctance of the ACLU to defend principle, that is, the excersize of First Ammendment rights by anti-abortion activists. Ironically, real facists-like the American Nazis and Klansmen-have had thier rights protected more often and with greater vigor by the ACLU than anti-abortion demonstrators.Twilight of LibertyOf course there are loonies in the anti-abortion movement, but that was true of the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement of the 60's, and even today in the "pro-choice" demonstrators. Every movement has it's fringe element. But while the ACLU was right on top in defending any violations of the law for all of these movements, when it comes to the opponents of abortion having their First Amendment rights violated by the authorities, the ACLU is completely absent.
Not even having the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act(RICO) thrown at anti-abortion protesters moved the ACLU into action.
The ACLU is nominally opposed to the RICO statute, and there are some senior members, like Washington official Antonio Califa, who are truly opposed to the invocation of RICO against any protesters, including opponents of abortion. However, due largely to the influence of Benshoof, the ACLU's record is grievously stained in this area.Twilight of Liberty
It was actually her suggestion in a booklet titled, "Preserving the Right to Choose: How to Cope with Violence and Disruption at Abortion Clinics." The ACLU would not tolerate the use of RICO against nuclear weapons dissedents, but in the case of anti-abortion protesters the matter is quite different. In fact, the ACLU has actually used the RICO against them. When pro-life demonstrators were sued under RICO in Philadelphia, the local chapter of the ACLU filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs, the Northeast Women's Center.
The ACLU missed another opportunity to defend civil liberties in 1989 in West Harford, Connecticut. It was on June 17 that 261 persons were arrested, and then physically abused by police, for staging a sit-in.
The police used "come-a-long" holds, or "pain compliance holds", with a result that many claimed permanent nerve damage. Some were denied medical care, and others were not allowed phone calls for over two days. One woman had to have surgery after the police damaged her uterus. The ACLU did nothing.
When John Spear, a publisher of a small New York newspaper, wrote an editorial against police brutality, he too was slapped with a RICO suit. He was charged with extortion. The ACLU did nothing.
"Why do they still call it a civil liberties union?" commented ACLU member and nemesis Nat Hentoff. When pressed about cases like the West Hartford one, the ACLU typically responds that it can't get involved with the defense of antiabortion protesters because it is already committed ot the ise of the abortion clinics. When John Leo asked Alan Dershowitz, "Can it be that the affiliates sometimes deliberately involve themselves early on one side so they will have an excuse not to help victims on the other?" the Harvard Law professor replied, "Absolutely. They go to the pro-choice people and say, "Get us in right away, "thereby giving them the excuse of conflict of interest in the event they are contacted by the anti-abortion side. And what does the ACLU say when asked specifically about its duplicity regarding RICO? Lynn Paltrow, who worked for Benshoof, explained the Union's attitude: "Its ACLU policy to oppose application of RICO, but there are those on staff who feel that as long as RICO exists, this kind of behavior (Operation Rescue tactics) does fit." "In other words," as John Leo puts it, "RICO is totally bad, but sort of useful."Twilight of Liberty,It looks pretty clear to me. In the eyes of the ACLU you the First Amendment protects child molesters, perverts, and facists, but not Pro-lifers! Quite hypocritical in my opinion.
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