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1558 points by katm on Jan 31, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 1030 comments



I've been a long time supporter of the ACLU. While they're being politicized right now as being anti-Trump, the thing I admire most about them is their consistency in fighting for the rights of everyone. They stick to their principles of free speech and human equality no matter how unpopular the issue or unsavory their client.

A good example is back in the 1930s when the ACLU simultaneously defended the rights of blacks on behalf of the NAACP at the same time as they were fighting for the rights of the Klu Klux Klan to hold rallies calling for the abolition of those rights.

The strength of your convictions are only tested at the extremes. Do you still believe in free speech when it's coming from neo-Nazis? The ACLU do and I deeply respect them for that.


You used the passive voice, “the ACLU are being politicized right now as being anti-Trump.”

The ACLU, in their official communications and advertisements, have been actively and explicitly anti-Trump. Witness their current 'pinned tweet' for example: https://twitter.com/ACLU/status/825805289572151298

I don’t really mind that, but let’s not ignore that the ACLU intentionally earned their reputation as an opponent of this administration (and to some extent, of every previous admin, as well)!


I think it would be more accurate to say right now that Trump is anti ACLU and everything it stands for. They're the static object in this equation imo.

They're not anti-Trump the person. They're against anyone who intends to ignore/damage civil liberties and Trump the candidate was pretty explicit about his thoughts there and is following through.


> I think it would be more accurate now that Trump is anti ACLU and everything it stands for.

That's less accurate. I don't think you understand what the ACLU "stands for", in context not in literal acronym. Not to say there isn't contention and opposition, but the hyperbole is not appreciated (e.g. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/31/politics/lgbt-protections-trum...).


Pretty sure I have a good grip on what the ACLU stands for and that is mainly equal protection under the law.

If stepping on lgbtq rights becomes convenient for Trump he will do it in a heartbeat, but right now he finds it more useful to demonize Muslims, immigrants, and people of color.

Speaking as a bisexual man myself deciding it's not worth the effort to attack me right now is not the same as being pro LGBTQ rights. Obama is the only president we have to thank for those protections Trump didn't do anything.

This is a pattern with him over and over. Credit taking for things others have _clearly_ done and it's repulsive.

And besides I don't know many LGBTQ people who don't consider an attack on any vulnerable minority an attack on us all. Hell gay immigrants have had loads of experience with cruel treatment by the us government. We're well aware of what it's like to have our families ripped apart with a deportation.



The implication is that if Trump is against everything the ACLU "stands for", the protections are anti-ACLU? This is categorically inaccurate.


OK fine it's more accurate to say Trump is anti Constitutional limits on his power whatever those limits are. the ACLU is just defending it's interpretation of those limits.

We can parse the syntax more but my main point is simply that the ACLU has consistently stood for equal protection under the law. Trump is the new variable in this situation and brings a wildly anti equal protection view so he crashed into them (and the Constitution imo) not the other way around.

Frankly, I'm not convinced he has even read more than snippets of the bill of rights.


There is a chasm between anti-illegal behavior by the president and anti-president. By this definition of "actively and explicitly anti-Trump" the ACLU was probably the 2nd most anti-Obama group after the birthers.

The ACLU has a clear agenda that is not highly aligned with either political party, so "being politicized" is accurate.


I would say the ACLU is by definition anti-government, though. Not in the sense that they want it destroyed, just in the sense that they'll always be the opposition to the executive branch. So they're "anti-Trump," but not in a way that's easily politicized; if any Democratic executives tried to punish people for being pro-Trump, the ACLU would be against them too.


> the ACLU is by definition anti-government

I'd rephrase that as "in favor of the rule of law". Governments break the law all the time and need some form of checks and balances to correct wrongdoing.


TWISI the org chart of the US Government is basically the constitution a the top & each branch of government below reporting to the constitution.

Unfortunately the Constitution can't call up the president or file lawsuits on it's own so the ACLU takes it upon themselves to make an argument on behalf of the big boss.

So many business people who want to be politicians mistake the presidency for being CEO. The president isn't CEO, more like co-COO and sometimes a swift and loud reminder of that fact is necessary.


I don't mean to imply that you're wrong (afaik, you're actually correct here), but I do want to point out that the interpretation and legal enforcement of the constitution is supposed to be done by the Supreme Court (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the entire judiciary branch). I'm not sure to what extent the SC can pass judgments / make rulings without being prompted by a lawsuit, though at the very least it seems to me that the ACLU at least keeps the important stuff on their radar ;)


> I'm not sure to what extent the SC can pass judgments / make rulings without being prompted by a lawsuit, though at the very least it seems to me that the ACLU at least keeps the important stuff on their radar ;)

They can't at all. Ours is an adversarial legal system and therefore the rule of law depends on dogged opposition willing to make challenges to unjust laws. That's why the ACLU is so critically important.

It's also one of the big problems with secret laws and warrantless surveillance: if you don't know your rights are being violated, how do you prove a violation occurred (which is a requirement to be granted standing in court)?


Good point and actually it cuts against my judicial review argument given FISA's reputation (and stats) for approving virtually everything.


Agreed - enforcing the constitution is a tag team effort between the judiciary and the people. I would prefer it if there were required judicial approval for new laws and EOs, but alas that's not our system.


I think the ACLU goes beyond the rule of law, and sometimes will push the line on interpretations of the law to limit government power (which I think in a fine thing to be doing).


The L does stand for "liberty", so I think this is probably the entire point.


> I'd rephrase that as "in favor of the rule of law".

The ACLU will fight against laws it considers unjust, illegitimate and liberticide. It has under pretty much every administration.


A long time ago, during the GWB administration, I donated to the ACLU and got placed on the postal mailing lists of innumerable unrelated Democratic-leaning activist organizations. I was disappointed by that, since the partisan association cheapens their work and opens them up to attack.


I once almost donated to the NRA several years ago. But on their main website were a few links to some anti-abortion/pro-life organizations. (And, AFAICT, it wasn't advertisements served over a third-party system.) I never went back.

I don't think the ACLU is nearly as partisan aligned or affiliated like that. But they're definitely more aligned, as a political matter, with the Democratic party. Partly for historical reasons (e.g. school busing, voting rights, criminal rights, etc.) But I totally get what you're saying.

The other part of it, though, is that we all need to learn to be a little more tolerant of political organizations and politicians taking stances that we personally disagree with. It's inevitable. To demand otherwise leads to more extremism, and leads to more fragmentation. If all we have are 10,000 smaller advocacy organizations, they're all going to drift left or right to a much greater extent. The only way to arrest that shift is to use yourself as an anchor; support the organization but then be sure to voice your opposition when they assume an inappropriate policy stance or affiliation.


The ACLU is much more closely aligned with the Libertarian Party, although they don't officially associate with any political party. They were huge critics of the Obama administration, the "embodiment of the Democratic Party" -- to some people, at least. They've also been huge advocates for Title IX reform on college campuses and opposed restrictions of student expression. It's wishful thinking that they are any closer to the Democratic Party than the Republican Party -- both are enemies of freedom, most of the time.


Are you sure you didn't tick the "Yes, send me information about related campaigns box"? Because this is what their privacy statement reads:

"When we give you an opportunity to voluntarily submit information about yourself, we may give you the option of indicating that you permit us to share that data with other parties such as coalition partners or specific legislators. We will not share your data with such parties unless you have indicated that you permit us to do so."

https://www.aclu.org/american-civil-liberties-union-privacy-...

Because you are making a strong accusation: "they shared my data without my consent"


> Are you sure you didn't tick the "Yes, send me information about related campaigns box"? Because this is what their privacy statement reads:

My donation happened more than 10 years ago (probably closer to 15), so who knows what their privacy stance was then. Quoting their current one certainly doesn't shed any light onto that.

In any case, while the fact that they shared my info was annoying, it also wasn't the point I was getting at. My point was: they chose to lump themselves in with unrelated left-wing causes by sharing my data, and I'm unhappy they chose to make civil liberties seem like a left/right thing by doing that.


It can be checked using the wayback machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20020802064342/http://www.aclu.o...

> However, the names and postal addresses of ACLU members, ... may be exchanged or rented to other organizations ... > members who join through the ACLU Freedom Network website are provided with an opportunity to opt out of this exchange.

That's from 2002 and they have similar paragraphs in all their updated privacy statements. But that's a moot point I guess, because your complaint wasn't that your data was shared.


I think the point being made is that the people who his information was shared with leaned toward one political affiliation.


Usually, organizations sell these lists to anyone who pays for them. It's not the ACLU's fault that left-leaning organizations perceived that list as valuable while right-leaning organizations didn't; my guess would be that right-leaning organizations bought the lists of new donors more frequently during 2008-2016.


They are telling people to fight back against Trump's executive orders that threaten civil liberties.

They are not anti-Trump, in that if Trump rescinded his problematic EOs, the ACLU would stop fighting him. The issue is not the man, it's the policy.


The issue is not the man, it's the policy.

But how do you separate the man from his policies? That would be like trying to separate a man from his religious conviction. A mans policies reflect what he believes in.


The constitution asks us to separate religious conviction from public policy so I don't think it is that outlandish. The government is supposed to represent all people not just the politician's beliefs.


The presidency isn't meant to be a cult of personality and good presidents will sometimes implement policies that they personally disagree with.


Trump has positioned himself as actively and explicitly anti-civil liberties. He does not feel he is bound to ethical rules or rule of law.


For context, I've got 8 years of ACLU emails with quotes like:

> Despite initial assurances that he would veto this outrageous bill, President Obama will now be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.


Funny how YC didn't consider it sensible to sponsor ACLU back then. :-)


How is that funny?


Not funny per se, ironic. But there's no smiley for "ironic".


How is that ironic?


It's ironic in the sense that California liberals literally let their guy get away with murder, but for a republican, they're all indignant and stuff for a much smaller offense. Not only is this ironic, it's pathetic and hypocritical as well.


I know many liberals who were extremely outspoken against Obama's illegal actions (I am one of them). I think that if you haven't encountered them, you haven't met good liberals or you haven't made an effort to ask people what their full belief set about Obama is. There was much less of an organized response than there is to Trump. Mostly because Trump has gone ahead and insulted just about everyone he possibly can, including liberals, veterans, immigrants, religious minorities, Mexicans,...

He's gone to ridiculous lengths to make enemies. He's a frickin reality TV show host, and it shows (ha). Obama, on the other hand, is a very subdued and poltician-ish figure. He colored within the lines on most public fronts, and pushed the limits in subtler and slower ways.


> Not only is this ironic...

People holding the opposing side in politics to a different standard isn't irony. To be irony it has to be exepectedly reversed somehow.

This is called confirmation bias, and you're doing it too.

>... it's pathetic and hypocritical as well.

If you stop and engage your rational brain, you'll immediately realise that's how partisan politics works, and that both sides do it.

Yes, it's both pathetic and hypocritical, but we all do it all day long... pathetic hypocracy is part of human nature. So are plenty of admirable traits, on all sides of any argument.


> California liberals literally let their guy get away with murder

What are you talking about? What guy, and what murder?


Unfortunately, the ACLU is not always consistent on the issue of free speech. For example, they have frequently argued in favour of compelling speech from Christian bakers, florists and photographers who, for reasons of conscience, are unwilling to provide their creative services for same-sex weddings. [1] [2] [3]

[1] http://aclu-co.org/court-rules-bakery-illegally-discriminate...

[2] http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/0712/A-florist-cau...

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/us/weighing-free-speech-in...


I've always had an internal issue here.

On one hand, I believe heavily in free speech to the point where as a principle (but not a constitutional thing) I find a lot of twitter and facebook's recent behavior awful.

On a personal level, I think religion is stupid and people who refuse to give service to anyone over it equally stupid(especially since if they were actually following Jesus's word they wouldn't be doing it. There's a lot about not judging and jesus hanging out with sinners in the new testament). I try not to let this affect my policy opinions since I try to be logical not emotional about them but I'm not sure how well I succeed. Religious beliefs do seem to be about the only reason people are trying to push for these sorts of things too.

Another point on a personal level is I would not want to work with someone on something like my wedding with someone who secretly hated who I am. Especially if they were being coerced by the government to do it.

So overall I'm altogether confused about the whole issue.

One thing I am sure of is that I am absolutely against any kind of religious exemption to any law whatsoever. Make the law one way or another.


I just wonder if they'd be as passionate about defending civil liberties if a devout Muslim photographer refused to photograph a Bar Mitzvah of a gay Jew. Would that be illegal? Or does this only apply to Christians?


Why are you so determined to find fault with the ACLU? Why the presumption of bad faith?


Where did I find fault with ACLU? This problem is much broader than them. They're merely a reflection of the larger society.


I apologize. I slipped. I strive to engage people in good faith, and my previous comment does not reflect that.


Refusal of service based race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation is not protected speech. It's discrimination. They gave up rights when they went into business.


On the other hand, there's a significant number of religious people in the US that believe they can't ethically support an LGBT wedding by offering services as a photographer, baker, etc. There's a very real tension between the rights of LGBT people to not be discriminated against and the rights of religious business owners to act according to their conscience. It's a snaggly issue, but hearing this kind of rhetoric from Democrats and left-leaning media("they give up rights when the went into business") is exactly what caused the center of the country to swing further right in the last election.


On the other hand... it's illegal.

They shouldn't be business owners if our social contract hurts their feelings. Commerce is a regulated activity.


Should a Jewish baker be forced to bake a Swastika cake?

Should a black florist be forced to make arrangements for a KKK wedding?

Should a Muslim butcher be forced to prepare pork for his customers?

I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to eat something that someone didn't really want to make for me. Can you trust food that was only made under threat of government action? I can't.


1) No, that's silly 2) No, the florist would not be in violation of anti-discrimination 3) No, if he didn't already sell pork he wouldn't be forced to

The last point, fair. No one said the cake had to be good :P It's just their professional reputation on the line.

The protected populations are rather limited "race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation", there may be additional protections in your jurisdiction + it has to be a product/service you already provide.

If you bake cakes, you can't refuse a cake to a gay couple; you could refuse on any number of other grounds though. If you don't sell pork, you can't be forced to. But breaking our laws because you like a book (legally speaking) is not allowed.

* FYI I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, if you're refusing service to anyone for anything other than business reasons you should double check with your counsel. You could be violating feduciary duty, etc.


I find it silly that a devout Christian can be sued into bankruptcy because he or she doesn't want make a wedding cake with two grooms on it.

I find it silly that a devout Christian can be sued into bankruptcy because he or she doesn't want to photograph a wedding ceremony with two brides.

The law has no regard for silly.

Moreover, you're missing the point. I picked people for my example because we all understand how repugnant those people would find it to be forced to take part in certain actions.

I get it, religious people are a convenient target of scorn and ridicule but the government shouldn't be in the business of coercing people to provide non-essential services to others.

So, a black ER doctor should have to provide assistance to the KKK member who was just shot and a Jewish pharmacist should have to fill the prescription for the neo-nazi's cancer medication.

Those are life and death issues, so they're not the same as someone getting their feelings hurt because someone else didn't want to associate with them.


None of the examples you listed in the GP were illegal.

The first two you listed here are, if it is proven in court that they were discriminating based on sexual-orientation. If the baker doesn't do bespoke decorations, fine. If the photographer doesn't shoot weddings, fine.

If you don't obey the law A) you're not a good Christian B) you don't get to engage in commerce in the United States of America.

Also please show me in your holy book where it says "thou shall not participate in commerce with homosexuals"


None of the examples you listed in the GP were illegal.

Yes, that was the point. I'm talking about the weaponization of the law.

Also please show me in your holy book where it says "thou shall not participate in commerce with homosexuals"

Please show me where I ever said that it was my book.


Also, if they were sued into bankruptcy they clearly didn't set up their corporation correctly.

If they are bankrupt it's more likely they spent all their money on their crusade in the courts + lost IMO.


You can't discriminate based on "race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation" that's the law. It's not a matter of repugnance, it's not a matter of silly. It's about protecting rights that the free market was unwilling to correct for on it's own.

Just cause you like a book doesn't mean you can ignore the law.

Those devout Christians had no business exchanging services for currency if they can't respect the law. Commerce is regulated per our Constitution.


You can't discriminate based on "race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation" that's the law.

I have noticed that every time you say this, you conveniently leave out "religion". It's against the law to discriminate against someone because of their religion too.

Commerce is regulated per our Constitution.

Interstate commerce is regulated per our Constitution. Intrastate commerce falls under other laws.


I am of the opinion that since these services are not limited in number that society can be more corrective by simply not patronizing providers who don't uphold its values.


In many places they are limited in number.

Further in those places, the populations that non-discrimination laws protect need protecting. If it weren't for the law their livelyhoods and lives would be in greater danger.

I'm from the middle of nowhere and so are my gay brothers, one of whom recently got married. I've experienced this. I've fought this. Don't try to feed me this invisble hand solving discrimination and hate crimes horseshit.

Libertarians...


[flagged]


As much as I disagree with the GP commenter, this doesn't make any sense at all. It's possible to think that Garner was breaking the law and that police use of excessive force (including a banned technique) was _unjustifiable_.

How on earth do you jump from "he was doing something illegal so the police had the right to enforce the law" to "the amount of force used was appropriate and unfortunately led to his death". You may have lost the thread of the conversation, but no one was talking about bakers being killed by inappropriate use of police force in the course of compelling them to serve gay weddings.


I don't think that getting hit with a lawsuit and dying are equivalent disincentives.


> Garner's death is an unfortunate but justifiable collateral damage of the police's clear duty to enforce the social contract

No.


hearing this kind of rhetoric from Democrats and left-leaning media("they give up rights when the went into business") is exactly what caused the center of the country to swing further right in the last election.

Do you have any evidence for that?


I grew up in the Midwest and still visit sometimes. Many people I know think Democrats have lost their minds with this issue (and the bathroom debate).


The bathroom debate that, like so many issues of the last several years, was borne from GOP legislative and executive action, but blamed on the Democrats for standing against it?

Who exactly has lost their minds here?


That's not evidence of a political swing though.


Multiple states going Red would beg to differ... As would a 1030+ seat swing from Blue to Red...


You made sweeping statements that went well beyond just 'people I know'.


>the rights of religious business owners to act according to their conscience

There is no such thing.


> the rights of religious business owners to act according to their conscience

Honest question: which right would that be? I've never heard about that before.


I don't think refusal of service is itself protected speech either, but we're not talking about the government restricting protected speech. We're talking about the government compelling an individual to engage in protected speech, like taking a wedding photograph.

> The U.S. Supreme Court has said repeatedly that the First Amendment protects an "individual freedom of mind"—e.g., (1943), which affirmed the right not to salute the flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance—which the government violates whenever it tells a person that she must or must not speak. Forcing a photographer to create a unique piece of art violates that freedom of the mind.

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/choosing-what-to-photograph...


Compelling a business, there's a big difference.

The government can't order you, as an individual, to bake someone a cake; but if you're a business discrimination is prohibited.

Engaging in commerce is a regulated activity per our Constitution.


actually that is exactly what the government did. The bakery didn't refuse to serve homosexuals. They did refused to bake a cake with say, two males at the top (paraphrasing the case).

EDIT: looked it up, they didn't want to bake a cake with bert & ernie and a pro-gay-marriage slogan.


Ok, but that does not change the fact that the bakery in this situation was in fact discriminating. You don't have to refuse all service to be discriminating illegally.

A more sinister version of the same logic is the argument that states weren't discriminating against gay people by not letting them marry someone of the same sex because technically they could go find someone of the opposite sex and be granted a wedding license for a life of misery married to someone who they could literally never be attracted to instead of the person they were attracted to and loved. It's discrimination in either case.


The cases I listed above all involve sole proprietorships or closely-held companies, so compelling the business to engage in protected speech is tantamount to compelling the individual who owns the business to engage in protected speech.

I agree the states and Congress can regulate commerce, but those regulations are still subject to the First Amendment.


> The cases I listed above all involve sole proprietorships or closely-held companies, so compelling the business to engage in protected speech is tantamount to compelling the individual who owns the business to engage in protected speech.

The moment you start a business you adapt an additional role to the one you already have ("private person"). In this role you have specific rights and obligations while you're in that role. It's the same reason that a person who is a police officer is allowed to arrest you while on duty (in his role as a police officer), but not when he is off duty (and in his role as a private citizen).


Actually any citizen can arrest a lawbreaker, not just a police officer, and not just while one is on duty.


What's the difference between the wedding photographer who won't take a picture of a gay couple, and a bar/shop owner with "no dogs, no blacks, no Irish" policy?


The wedding photographer believes, because of their religion, that it would be unethical to participate in the wedding.


Business owners cited religious reasons to deny service to black people too. The KKK was founded as a nominally Christian organization.

Folks who fought for Jim Crow laws did not view themselves as willfully evil people who discriminated for no reason. They viewed their own support of segregation as a principled moral stance. That's why they fought so hard.


Gay marriage was an obvious win for individual rights and liberty. This issue is different: the discussion isn't around whether bars should be allowed to kick out LGBT patrons, it's whether bakers and photographers should be compelled to offer services which might be against their conscience. That's a important right that could be taken away, so it isn't obvious compelling bakers not to turn away LGBT clients is a net win for individual rights.


It's a tough issue, but so are all civil rights laws. They all force a business owner to serve or accommodate customers they might not want to. Calling something a religious objection shouldn't be a universal pass IMO.

Among other reasons, what do you do when people start inventing religions to get out of doing things they don't want to? Should the government be in the position of deciding which religions are "real"? Just look at the history of Scientology or modern Satanism for examples.

For me this issue is so frustrating because in the gospels, Jesus repeatedly went out of his way to accept and bless society's cast-offs. He tells his followers to turn the other cheek and be wary of imposing judgment.

Yet today, people who supposedly follow his teachings are eager to do the casting off themselves, based on a few sketchy line readings from elsewhere in the Bible. I just don't understand how someone can read the New Testament and come away with "be mean to gay people" as a priority message.


what is the fundamental difference between a bar "offering service" to patrons, and a photographer "offering service"?

Perhaps more importantly, the difference between that and a landlord "offering service"?

We talk about the wedding cakes and the photographs, but it's important to remember that less than 50 years ago, blacks were constantly turned away from houses in nice neighborhoods for similar objections.


Why should a bartender be compelled to offer their services?


> The wedding photographer believes, because of their religion, that it would be unethical to participate in the wedding.

The "because of their religion" part is demonstrably nonsense.

People don't foster anti-gay feelings because of their religion, they trawl archaic text to justify anti-gay feelings that already exist.

It takes 30 seconds and a copy of Leviticus to disprove. Where's the conservative rage about tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), or oysters (Leviticus 11:10)?


Your comment shows that you have not done even the most basic research into different kinds of Old Testament law, their function, how they relate to the New Covenant, underlying principles from Creation, etc. For example, how do you reconcile Christians eating non-kosher meat, since it is also forbidden in the OT?

You haven't even begun to consider these issues, yet here you are issuing sweeping proclamations about the contents and motivations of other people's hearts. Dare I say that you are not fostering anti-Christian feelings because of your understanding, but you trawl archaic text to justify anti-Christian feelings that already exist.


> For example, how do you reconcile Christians eating non-kosher meat, since it is also forbidden in the OT?

Because they don't want to follow that rule, and they see other Christians not following that rule.

Under your interpretation (that Christian attitudes are recieved from the Bible) Christian law would have remained largely static for the past 1600 years since the Bible was compiled, which is clearly not the case. For example, the treatment of adultery and usury have changed unrecognisably.

Having either attended or helped perform mass for half of my life, I can tell you for a fact that most Christians have no interest at all in treating the Bible as 'law' and instead use it for inspiration, comfort, or occasionally a crutch when making tough decisions. They recieve their morality and prejudices from themselves and from their peers.

If anyone was actually interested in treating the Bible as law then Theology would be a legal field not an academic one.

> ... you trawl archaic text to justify anti-Christian feelings that already exist.

Nonsense, I haven't said a single anti-christian word... and my pre-existing feelings are against the rationalisation of bigotry being treated as special, or worthy.

Prejudice (and we all have plenty) is to be examined and squashed, not protected.

> ... how they relate to the New Covenant

This is topical. Jesus teaches "love thy neighbour", and the Good Samaritan, lessons that we could all let a little closer to our hearts in times of wall-building, rejection of refugees, and threats of war.


Serving drinks is not protected speech; taking a photograph is.


Being paid to take a photograph is different though. That's not speech, that's a professional service.


The two aren't mutually exclusive. I imagine you would agree that a journalist still engages in protected speech when he writes articles in exchange for compensation. Why isn't a photographer also engaging in protected speech when he takes photos in exchange for compensation?


Are you saying that an act is no longer considered speech if you're paid for it? This seems to fly in the face of innumerable legal precedents, from porn to commissioned/sponsored art works to TV shows.


As it's engaging in commerce it is subject to regulation.


There's a decent, but by no means slam dunk, case that wedding photographers engage in protected expressive conduct. The case is significantly weaker one for bakers and florists.


This is true. The case is stronger if the baker designs a custom cake or has to write a message on the cake, or if the florist designs a custom floral arrangement.


Personally, I've always wondered if the people who don't want to make cakes for a gay wedding/provide flowers would be willing to subcontract that out to someone else. When you buy a cake you don't generally expect that specific person will be making that cake. This would allow them to not participate while at the same time protecting people from discrimination.


Alternatively, why doesn't the gay couple just go somewhere else? I would imagine that only a very small minority of bakers/photographers/florists have strong feelings on this issue, so it's not like it would be difficult to find equivalent service elsewhere.


Because the law can't depend on how many people would like to disregard it. If, in any particular locality, it's not a small minority at all, we're quickly back to "separate but equal". We've seen that movie and we know it doesn't end well.

So given that people's rights would be grossly violated if lots of businesses turned them away, the law must say that no business may turn them away.


Simply put: there isn't always "somewhere else" they can go, and you can't have different standards for businesses depending on whether or not they're the bakery in town, or the only photographer in town, etc.


This is where Facebook and twitter bans tread as well. Moral outrage on its own does not justify social acceptability, however well meaning.


Those who oppose would still consider this participation.


You don't give up rights just because you start a business.


When you engage in commerce you're subject to regulation, per the Constitution. Which means giving up (unstated) rights that you otherwise would have as a citizen. Discrimination for example.

Social contract theory ;)


It makes sense to me that businesses should be regulated and should not have the same rights as a citizen (Citizens United?)

One thing I wonder, though, is: what if the owner or sole proprietor "quits" their business? Are they still criminally/civilly liable after they've "given up" their additional role? And, if something like that'd actually fly, would they ever be able to return to their [line of] business, or would they have to quit forever?


Reminds me of Lavabit, that secure email service whose owner shut down rather than complying with an order to give the government information on a client.


Only interstate commerce is regulated in the Constitution.


Not correct.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 3: [The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Several high court rulings have concluded that it includes intrastate commerce. It's wide reaching & has historically been the main tool for combating discrimination.


In some ways, and in some states, you do. You also take on a greater responsibility to the public, to whom you're offering products and services, that you would not shoulder as an individual.


The line between free speech and discrimination was drawn long ago. Would you also have people deny service to Black Americans like we did before the Civil Rights movement?


In the context of expressive services like wedding photography, yes. The government should not be allowed to compel protected speech, even when such compulsion would be in the public interest. That's the price we pay for liberty. I don't see how this is any more problematic than allowing the Klu Klux Klan to march against black rights.


Okay, I can understand that viewpoint, it is logical. However, I'd argue that while liberty would be gained, it would come at the expense of there being more hate in the world. I personally don't think I would want to live in a society where people are denied service because of something about themselves that they cannot control.


forcing interaction doesn't remove that pre-existing hate though (I'd prefer the term prejudice because I know many christians don't hate gays). Forcing a christian bakery or a muslim pizzeria to cater to a gay wedding would just foster resentment at being compelled by the government to perform an action against their will. Freedom of association means that groups that don't want to interact, don't have to. For someone with an egalitarian mindset that might seem abhorrent but some beliefs or characteristics can't necessarily be reconciled.


It may - or may not - change the prejudice of the individuals providing services. However, the sum of those prejudices (in the absence of laws that say otherwise) normalizes separation & segregation, which creates an environment for hate to grow.

Humans tend to distrust/dislike those we're not close to. Lots of evidence shows associating with people builds empathy. Taken to its extreme, segregation causes us to 'other' people and lose empathy.


I'm not sure which would be the lesser evil - permitted self-segregation or forced interaction. I also don't see why separation and segregation would cause hate - usually it's groups that are in conflict living in close proximity that causes real problems. See: Apartheid, pre-civil-war America, Israel and Muslims in the Middle East, and so on.

Association certainly breeds empathy, but what if that association is forced by a third party? If I didn't want to interact with a member of group X, and the government decided I had to interact with them or face some arbitrary punishment, initial interactions would be stained by that use of implied force. When you add religion into the mix, tensions are even worse because you might find yourself stuck between blasphemy and judicial punishment.


> Association certainly breeds empathy, but what if that association is forced by a third party?

Its not like everyone feels 'forced', its only a few people (just like I don't feel forced to drive within lanes or not kill people - these don't register for me). But the impact of their attitudes is potentially much greater.

Lets say there are 3 groups of people - (M)inority group, (P)rejudiced people who have businesses, and (E)veryone else.

In this instance, the forced interaction is only forced on P, which is a small number.

P's actions would have broader impact though. The M's would find themselves less welcome in certain areas, and over time (justifiably) choose to go elsewhere. Less M's mean E's would have less interaction with M's.

P's unchecked actions would also begin to normalize P's behavior, and embolden their stance. Normalization would potentially increase the number of E's becoming P's.

Over a long time, this could create an environment where M's choose to leave entirely, E's simply lose out on the opportunity to interact with M's, and increase the likelihood E's turn in to P's through osmosis of P's normalized behavior, and because of lack of personal experience with M's. The P/E community get segregated from the M community, and whenever there are struggles between those communities (which always happen between communities, e.g. resources, culture, etc), empathy is not there to keep things civil. All due to a few Prejudiced individuals not liking being 'forced' to interact with others during the course of their personal choice to engage in (government regulated) economic activity.

Basically, a few rotten apples spoils the lot.


Not only that, but if it's legal not to do business with a minority group, then people who aren't themselves prejudiced will come under pressure not to do business with or employ members of the minority group in order to keep the prejudiced people who don't want to associate with those minorities happy.


if the number of prejudiced people in business is small (and therefore avoidable), why would the minority group choose to leave the environment entirely? After all, we're talking about the prejudiced group simply not wanting to have to associate with the minority group, not necessarily hating them or wishing harm upon them. We all have people who don't like us, often unjustifiably, but we just avoid interacting with those individuals rather than abstaining from interaction with anyone in their community.

In cases where the number of prejudiced is higher and thus the minority group is unlikely to be able to avoid dealing with a prejudiced business owner, it's unlikely that the two groups would have ever gotten along in the first place.


> if the number of prejudiced people in business is small (and therefore avoidable), why would the minority group choose to leave the environment entirely?

This happens, a lot. Again, per my previous comment, behavior is normalized, potentially creating a hostile environment.

> After all, we're talking about the prejudiced group simply not wanting to have to associate with the minority group, not necessarily hating them or wishing harm upon them.

We don't necessarily know that. The law certainly doesn't know that.

> We all have people who don't like us, often unjustifiably, but we just avoid interacting with those individuals rather than abstaining from interaction with anyone in their community.

It only takes a small number of people or a few bad interactions for one to choose to avoid an entire area.

> In cases where the number of prejudiced is higher and thus the minority group is unlikely to be able to avoid dealing with a prejudiced business owner, it's unlikely that the two groups would have ever gotten along in the first place.

That's an assumption. Again, plenty of evidence to show that people who don't associate have prejudices that can be extinguished through repeat exposure.

I can see that these all seem small issues in the individual instance, but the thrust of my argument is their cumulative effect has broader implications.

At the risk of seeming too personal (and I mean this sincerely and not in a mean way), it honestly doesn't sound like you've been in an environment where you've felt unwelcome in this way, or spoken to someone who's felt that way about their experiences in certain areas.


Depending on how the interaction plays out, there is a chance that prejudice would be reduced due to contact hypothesis, but it seems unlikely that the criteria would be met for most services. For some services like wedding photography, however, it seems likely that the criteria would be met and prejudice might be reduced.


I wouldn't think the contact hypothesis would play out quite so nicely under duress from the government. People naturally hate being forced into situations they're uncomfortable in, and I could very easily see that frustration being projected onto the individual/s that the person is prejudiced against.


That's true. It's hard to say. I do know that it was thought that forcing schools to not be segregated would cause the contact hypothesis to come into play and reduce prejudice in children. It was a part of Brown vs. Board of Education. That seems to have worked too, but that was for children. They may not have had much prejudice to begin with.


When you talk about a Christian bakery forced to cater a gay wedding are you referring to a specific incident? Has that happened?


I think most people are referring to a specific case in Ireland. The bakery was refused to provide a cake with a slogan "Support Gay Marriage", citing religious objections to the practice. The bakery lost the case, and the appeal: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-37748681.


it's actually happened quite a few times in the USA as well. If you search "USA christian bakery" there's at least 3 or 4 separate cases of bakeries that have been sued on the front page alone.

[edit] by search, I mean on Google rather than HN


Should a Jewish restaurant be compelled to serve neo-nazis wearing Nazi uniforms?


Assuming the neo-nazis are there just to eat and not to stir up a fight, I would say yes. But I'm not sure it's legal to walk around in Nazi uniforms.


Probably not. That's a very different situation. Neo-nazis make a choice to be neo-nazis.


So, according to your argument, it should be ok to denny someone service based on their religion as well.


Yeah I suppose. Religion is often not really chosen, but kind of forced onto a person early in life. I suppose the same is likely true for neo Nazis though.


Do you think that would be okay? Are you asking a question?


People don't pick whether God exists.


Of course they do. It's impossible to know whether or not God exists based on physical evidence; that's why religion is based on faith and not scientific research. People choose their religious beliefs, or (much more commonly) have them chosen for them. That's faith.


You make your best guess about whether God exists. You don't choose if it's true.

Also, faith means "trust", not "irrational opinion".


> faith means "trust", not "irrational opinion".

Not quite, faith means "trust" in an "irrational opinion". Howerver, everyone should have the right to trust whatever opinion rational or irrational.


If you want to be precise, it means "trust in a person" in the original Greek. As in, the New England Patriots have faith in Bill Belichick.

That sort of faith can absolutely be rational.


Exactly why you can't discriminate based upon religion.


Of course people do. That's why there are many religions with many different gods.


Sure they do; it's all in their head.


Yes, I think they should, if they could somehow be confident that their guests would dine in peace and not make trouble. The fact that such confidence could be hard to come by shows that this situation is not really analogous to the wedding photographer situation. You'd have to flip it around to get a better analogy: should a neo-Nazi restaurant be compelled to serve Jews? Clearly yes.


Compelled? Well, are there police present to stop the Nazis assaulting the Jews?


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Okay, so would you then be okay with a bakery not providing service to a wedding between two people of a certain race, because of their race?


What, exactly, is the problem with that? Everyone should have the right to refuse service to whomever they please. Should I be forced to cater to a nazi wedding? I think I should be allowed to deny service to whomever I please. And if people don't like it (as in the case of denying service to certain races) then they should stop going to that business.


> What, exactly, is the problem with that? Everyone should have the right to refuse service to whomever they please.

I encourage you to look up the history of segregation in the U.S. That approach works out very badly.


I guess the reason I think we no longer be that is the fact that this is a very different country from back then. after all, we have twitter! /s.

but I see your point and concede that it can be a dangerous slippery slope.


> this is a very different country from back then

Very different, but still a long way to go. I remember reading that in ~1959 (this is from memory, so all details are a bit hazy) 95% of Americans opposed legalizing interracial marriage; now of course a similar number support its legality - it's a non-issue. Look at the boom in the black middle class (it's amazing what people do when you give them a chance). Look at LGBTQ rights and the incredible advance of women in society.

On the other hand, look at who won the November election, offering the most brazen racially and religiously prejudiced, hateful messages of any major party candidate, possibly ever, and openly partnering with the most powerful agent of white supremacy in the U.S. (Bannon). Look at how minorities are treated by law enforcement in many places. Look at the overwhelming prevalence of white-skinned people (and men) in movies, IT (name the top 10 industry leaders in the last 25 years), national and state government, Fortune 500 CEOs, etc etc.


I suspect this person would not agree with that.


I'm a racial and religious minority who's in an interracial relationship. so, as you've already guessed, I long for the Jim Crow days of yore.


No you shouldn't be forced to cater to a Nazi wedding in my opinion. A person chooses to be a Nazi, but a person doesn't choose their race. It's unfair and dangerous to treat people differently for something about themselves that they can't control.


| It's unfair and dangerous to treat people differently for something about themselves that they can't control.

It is not fair one way or the other. You have also put yourself in the unenviable position of determining what can and can not be controlled by an individual - this will not end well.


We kind of already do that with the Civil Rights act of 1964, and it has seemed to work okay.


Indeed, The Civil Rights Act kinda does -

| ...equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

IE, a specific group of people in specific set of places. That does not include discrimination against "things people can't control" in any and all establishments.


This is cognate to the "Black people can get married, just not to members of a different race" argument, which has long been recognized as specious.


For anyone more interested in this, the most relevant cases are "Pace v. Alabama" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pace_v._Alabama), and "Loving v. Virginia" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia).


> They just cannot order a cake for a gay wedding -- nor can any straight customer.

That's like saying you didn't steal my money, you've just enforced a rule that I can only spend my money on you.


Please consider the correct context: these are entities selling services as a business, not individuals expressing a personal opinion. They want the various protections and benefits law provides to businesses (yes, even Single Proprietor/Partnerships) in some circumstances but to be treated like they're just ordinary citizens in others.


The issue isn't just limited to LGBT folks. The Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for businesses to refuse service to customers on the basis of race, religion, etc. For any business that offers a creative service, that's arguably a First Amendment violation. Usually, that is justified on the basis that commercial speech as lower First Amendment protections than other kinds of speech.


I searched around to see if I could find any writeup about the ACLU defending the NAACP and KKK at the same time. I found a similar example to the one you described from the mid 90's - http://www.nytimes.com/1993/09/10/news/a-klansman-s-black-la...


An even more impressive demonstration of their principles: In the 1970s the ACLU supported the National Socialist Party of America in their fight to be allowed to display swastikas while marching through the predominantly-Jewish village of Skokie.

Incidentally, the lawyers representing the National Socialist Party and the ACLU were both Jewish.


Not sure what happened, but it looks like the attorney was recently disbarred for "professional misconduct". http://www.txcourts.gov/media/825977/149249.pdf


The ACLU used to be an entirely admirable organization. It has devolved into mostly political advocacy and attention-seeking, but still does some good work. Not black/white, every institution has its own history. But YC is entirely diluting their brand wading into this mess.

The A.C.L.U. has has about 250,000+ members, a $15-20 million annual budget (hardly a startup mentality), an extensive network of state affiliates and local chapters, backed up by a national office with headquarters in New York, a legislative office in Washington and regional offices in Atlanta and Denver.

There are fifty-one affiliates - every state except North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho, plus 3 in California, and one in D.C. (not sure about state offices anymore, I think that is correct), - have their own staffs and their own boards, plus at least one representative on the national board, which sets policy for the whole organization.

The state affiliates do make independent decisions about which cases to take and which local legislation to lobby for or against. They frequently take cases in areas where the national organization has not yet adopted a policy. But they also get smacked down when they run afoul of national board.

It is the national board sets a "policy" agenda and then seeks out cases to pursue that agenda. That board meets for a weekend four times a year to iron out the policy.

That natl/local split accounts for some of the diversity, but in truth it is mostly partisan organization based on board membership.


In Worst Instincts [1] [2], Wendy Kaminer documents this.

I lately have found the Rutherford Institute [3] to be a much better protector of individual rights than the ACLU. [4]

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Worst-Instincts-Cowardice-Conformity-...

[2] http://beta.wendykaminer.com/ACLU.aspx

[3] http://rutherford.org/

[4] http://www.npr.org/2013/06/02/188125996/john-whitehead-on-pr...


> While they're being politicized right now ...

That's long been true, though I'm sure sometimes more than others. I agree with what you say, but AFAIK they always have been associated with the left.


True, they are more left-wing than right-wing. At the same time, they support Citizens United which is usually considered conservative. So it's not so clear cut.


to the extent that the left is associated with the maintenance of our rights


Skokie, IL. The epitome of a principled defense of civil rights.


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They literally tell you.

Border wall: https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-trumps-border-and-sanctuary-c...

One of dozens of articles on the refugee EO: https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/trump-begins-his-unco...


These pages are both grossly biased and intellectually dishonest. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's impossible to impute motive from action, it's irresponsible to call defending borders racist when there are other reasonable and less incendiary explanations.

I've historically supported the ACLU's mission, but right now they are showboating for donations and that plan is working out great for them which means we can expect them to double down on the strategy. It's no secret that a significant portion of political activism and fund-raising is just skinning suckers. The right ran the same scam on its constituents during the Obama years.


"it's irresponsible to call defending borders racist when there are other reasonable and less incendiary explanations."

I haven't heard one single reasonable explanation for why the US taxpayers should put $15 BILLION (before budget overflows and deadline pushbacks) into this wall. Until it is remotely justifiable, a knee-jerk monument to collective racism and xenophobia is ALL it is.

Starting a trade war with Mexico so we can say they paid for it though creative accounting will hurt our economy and cost the working class much more than a simple crackdown on employers exploiting illegal immigrants.


Considering you can find Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Obama and various other Democrats calling for secure borders and barriers of various sorts throughout the years...

It wasn't racism and xenophobic when it was called for then... Bill got a standing ovation from both sides when he made his speech...

What's changed about wanting those things?


100% my opinion here, but based on what I've read and heard so far a physical wall is a terrible way to actually prevent illegal immigration. Most illegal immigrants arrive legally but just remain illegally.

But you know what a big wall is? A symbol. It's my opinion that the purpose of the wall is not to actually 'secure our borders' but to act as a symbol that those to the south are not as welcome as before.


Leaving the $15 BILLION aside for now, are you able to see any reason for having a wall at all?


that justification is very weak re the border wall. we can argue that it is a dumb way to do things. but if that was the case then everything the gov does needs an ACLU lawsuit.

the constitution does not guarantee open-borders and the entire immigration system is there to act as a virtual wall in the first place. So I fail to understand the ACLU's position on the wall. It definitely has nothing to do with constitutional issues


Both articles just say "unconstitutional" and say "racist" a bunch of times without citing statute or case law. Sorry if I don't find such arguments compelling.


Green card holding permanent residents of the US who were denied entry without due process are having their civil liberties violated. Everyone who was detained by CBP explicitly in illegal violation of the order of a federal judge had their civil liberties violated. Those parts of the order were rescinded because it was obviously illegal, but their rights were still denied.

That's the easiest, inarguable example.


What procedural guarantees are permanent residents guaranteed under US law, that these people were not granted when they were denied entry, ie. what is 'due process' in the context of entry for permanent residents?


That question matters if you want to gauge the chances for a successful appeal in court.

Whether completely upending the lives of longterm residents without any prior warning is something that should be allowed to happen in a country is at least in part a moral question, and surely the ACLU is well within it's rights to answer that in the negative; nor, I dare say, would that answer seem very foreign to the average decent person.


I would really like to see if a moral position like that could still stand tall. I'd be surprised if they could defend Milo Yiannopoulos's Twitter account without massive protests and everyone losing their job.


There are literally zero constitutional issues raised by the nature of his relationship with Twitter.


How do people still not get this? The First Amendment is a limitation on the government of the United States. Period. It does not apply to other countries. It does not apply to private entities within the United States. It does not apply to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or any other social media.


> How do people still not get this? The First Amendment is a limitation on the government of the United States. Period. It does not apply to other countries. It does not apply to private entities within the United States. It does not apply to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or any other social media.

To be fair, most of the time I hear your complaint, the people complaining about the loss of free speech has nothing to do with the Constitution (though that isn't the case in this instance, of course). It's possible to oppose certain speech restrictions as damaging to a community you care about and to be upset when those restrictions arise. Not for constitutional reasons, but for reasons having to do with the health and ethical grounding of a community.

Though this is just my sample: It's of course possible that we are exposed to very different circles and that you're more often exposed to "Reddit can't ban this subreddit! It's unconstitutional!". If so, I'm sorry, that must blow


Maybe it shouldn't be:

"... a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself."

--John Stuart Mill


Pretty much exactly this. If you don't have a practical right to exercise free speech, you effectively have lost the right in it's entirety.


There are no constitutional issues raised by the border wall, and yet the ACLU is opposed to that.


The parts of the border wall built by President Bush seized property from private citizens. Infamously, there is now a golf course in Texas that is now on the wrong side of the border. So, you have to subject yourself to search by CBP in order to go play golf despite not leaving your country.

Bush tackled the easiest parts of the wall. Expanding will only present more seizing of property from citizens and subjecting citizens to search and seizure solely due to their proximity to the border, despite them having no desire to cross the border. Whether being searched for wanting to play golf is unreasonable is a constitutional issue.


It upsets me to read negative comments about initiatives like this. My assumption is that most people agree that it'd be good for the ACLU to have more funding and to operate in a more efficient, higher leverage manner. If YC can help with that, great! They could be backing other areas instead, or they could be backing nothing. I, for one, am glad they're backing something good.

I don't understand why people often bring up other areas where private money and resources could have gone. When someone says "I support X" (e.g. X = ACLU), they are not saying "I don't support anything that's not X." They are just saying they care about X. If you would prefer to donate your time and resources to another cause, that's great! I'm sure you'd be disappointed if you dedicated yourself to curing diabetes and someone complained because they thought cancer research should be higher priority, or if you offered to hire 10k refugees around the world and people suggested a boycott because they preferred that you hire Americans instead.

Let's not discourage people from trying to make the world better.


Maybe a little glib, but this came up on Reddit from Twitter:

> The left protest about Trump, but they're strangely silent about King Raedwald's invasion of Northumbria in AD 616[1]

It's a bizarre way to argue in favor of being politically detached.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/ukpolitics/comments/5r6zw0/the_left...


I never supported Trump, but I can't find it in myself to join the opposition specifically because I don't understand them. When someone says "Why are you protesting Trump doing X, but not Obama doing X?" it's not a valid argument, and it's not a convincing argument, but that's not the point.

If your answer is "well, when Obama did X he mitigated the negative effects by also doing Y, and did X in political climate where it made more sense and yadda yadda" then I have something tangible to understand your motives. I can feel like I'm donating to an organization or protesting alongside people I understand the motives of. But by treating it as an insider secret only the smarter half of Americans will figure out, regardless of the issue or question, I'm left in the dark alongside the unenlightened Republicans.

Worse, Republicans, who will soon control 3 branches of government, get to say people are just predisposed to hating Trump and have no incentive to listen to protesters. My personal take has been the left has been thrown into chaos by Trump's unexpected victory and don't have a unified voice or reasoning. People won't speak because their afraid their reasoning might step on the toes of someone else's, so everyone just pretends its obvious and gathers immense support without saying anything.


Sounds like you're listening the noise and not the signal. There were plenty of people that were against Trump before the election and now he is doing the things he said he was going to do. They have real reasons to be opposing him, it just sounds like you are paying attention to memes and talking heads in the consolidated media.


> treating it as an insider secret only the smarter half of Americans will figure out, regardless of the issue or question, I'm left in the dark alongside the unenlightened Republicans.

The motives of the protesters are an insider secret? You can find them almost everywhere. Try the NY Times editorials, as a simple way to start.


> "Why are you protesting Trump doing X, but not Obama doing X?"

In general this question is: "You were wrong yesterday, why don't you keep on being wrong today?". The answer, of course is, "I'd rather stop being wrong as soon as possible. On this issue, I stopped being wrong today, and so today I'm trying to do better than yesterday."

Honestly, I care very little about people "protesting Trump". But I think it's great that people are protesting against misogyny, racism, militarism, fascism, anti-intellectualism etc.

Ok, so too few people were protesting extra-judicial drone strike assassinations under Obama. Lets not take that as a great reason to not protest them under Trump (or any further President). It certainly seems likely that Clinton would've had no scruples continuing to blow up Yemeni children in the name of "fighting terrorists". And hopefully that'd garner protests too.


> People won't speak because their afraid their reasoning might step on the toes of someone else's, so everyone just pretends its obvious and gathers immense support without saying anything.

This helps make sense of things a bit more for me as well, thanks. I listen to the left, and I very often agree, but at least as often I simply don't understand what they are on about, there is very often simply no logic to their arguments.


there is very often simply no logic to their arguments.

You've likely heard those on the left express similar sentiments of those on the right. What comes to mind when you hear them say that?


That they've read far too many threads of rabid unthinking "conservatives" and have now concluded that all conservatives are idiots. It's difficult to blame them to be honest.

Personally, I will always challenge idiots on my side, I don't often see the same on the other side, they tend to be much more unified and don't tolerate dissension.


That's commendable. I suggest that what you're seeing is also susceptible to perception bias. Regardless, HN is a place for civil and constructive discussion. However close-minded or obstinate we may believe others to be, it's counterproductive to express or engage on the assumption that they're unreasonable or irrational.


Agreed, I was referring moreso to reddit, facebook, etc, although you do seem the same mentality here now and then.


Then leave Reddit and Facebook for Reddit and Facebook. From my experience here, HN members really do value the community they foster here. Each of us is responsible for maintaining that, even when we — or others —sometimes slip.


I think it is a difficult question to answer if the difference between Obama and Trump seems about as arbitrary as choosing a sports team because it's based in your hometown.

Even though it is relatively new, I think moral foundations theory[1] is an excellent place to start in understanding how people assess moral choices that underlie political preferences. With imagination, try to understand how it is impossible to maximize the fulfilling all of these goals he describes simultaneously, and how the moral foundations inevitably come into conflict. Also, try to imagine how different people you know might prioritize one over the other.

For example, nearly everyone wants to claim that they are loyal to people they know well (people in their group) and nearly everyone wants to claim that they are just and would not harm people indiscriminately. Yet clearly people prioritize these two goals very differently. For some almost no inconvenience to others is too great in order to offset even the most minor risk, and for others almost no danger is great enough to justify the most minor inconvenience to strangers.

Hopefully, that sheds a little light on the idea that people have different fundamental goals.

Next, one might explore how effectively different policies achieve different goals. An example could be the topic of trade barriers. How will they affect total world economic production, or the economic production of individual countries relative to each other, the impact on total economic output within one's own country, and how that economic output will be distributed among different groups of people within the country.

And perhaps finally, how will people make their political arguments, given that the people who make political arguments are likely to at least have some intuition about what is likely to convince different types of people. For example, if you want a distribution of wealth favoring the top, then you'll likely talk about how a meritocratic system increases overall economic growth for everyone, rather than only just saying that you think they deserve it. And, if you want a more equal distribution of wealth you will probably talk about talent discovery from a larger pool of people, the value of social safety nets in encouraging entrepreneurship, or the inefficiency of workers who are made to struggle, rather than just saying that everyone deserves a moderate standard of living regardless of the talents they were born with.

Anyway, if you've never supported Trump, but don't see how his decisions have been different from Obama's it could just be that the overwhelming majority of people you know are negative about him, just as other people might never have supported Obama or Clinton because people around them complained about them often. Maybe one way to figure out what you would believe independent of peer pressure is to identify the different values politicians appeal to within a single party. Partly because people in Congress have very different constituents, it can be striking how much a people who seem unified within the same party are appeal to radically conflicting values.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_foundations_theory


The discouragement is not about making the world better


I hope it is because we are all hackers and programmers. We find flaws in everything because that is (literally) our jobs.


I don't know exactly what this means, as the implementation details are hazy, but if this entails substantial support to the ACLU (in terms of lawyers, money, or both), then that is awesome. I donated to the ACLU yesterday and I'm encouraging everyone I know to do the same.


For people outside the US, I believe it is perfectly fine to donate to ACLU, but do check if there is an equivalent organization in your country. For example in the UK there is Liberty (https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/). Threats to human rights are a global problem after all.


I would caution people about how they donate to the ACLU. I made a donation last year and since then have been awash in solicitations for donations from SCLC, Planned Parenthood, Grean Peace, PETA, and other leftist organizations.

While I don't object to many of these organizations, I take my privacy very seriously and I wasn't aware when I donated that my personal information would be given/sold out the way it has been.


there's an option on the donation page where you can opt-in to the ACLU sharing your details with other charitable organizations. (the default is opt-out).


I verified via the wayback machine and the page is the same today as it was when I made my donation. I'm fairly certain I would not have checked that box. I make it a point to read checkboxes very carefully as companies are so prone to anti-patterns to get you to agree to share your info or join mailing lists.


I also didn't check the checkbox and haven't heard from the other organizations you cite.


Always possible you donated to another group around the same time...


Except, you know, they're a bunch of lawyers so any abuse of their own privacy policy is not really going to fly with them, especially from an optics perspective. It's far more likely that you did, in fact, click the checkbox, and just forgot about it than the ACLU deciding to ignore your request and forward your information anyway.


One data point: I have no idea if I checked the box, but I'm a regular subscriber and I've never had solicitation from any of those other companies.


If you check out the donation form, people are opted-out of that by default now. (Not sure how it was previously.)


I don't think you can fault the ACLU? In my experience: I donated a few times in the past and now I am a guardian of liberty (monthly donation) and I've never gotten any solicitations from any other charity/organization. However in college I never donated to any charity (wasn't stingy, just prioritizing being able to eat and pay rent at that time...) And I got piles and piles and piles of solicitations for those organizations you've mentioned. I don't know where the "leak" came from.


Yes, I experienced this as well, though it was about 8 years ago. I was really disappointed in the ACLU, I would have thought of all people they would be the last ones to sell off private information. It bothers me that all these groups have spent more money on sending me mail in the ensuing years than the original donation amount to the ACLU.

At least now it seems like they let you opt out.

This is a problem in the non-profit industry that should get addressed, especially given younger generations are less likely to respond to mailers anyways.


As an employee of an old world charity trying desperately to connect with younger generations, I completely agree with you.

Our organization struggles to unsubscribe people from mailing lists. It's kind of ridiculous.


Im taking this as a statement, that progress for traditional ycombinator startups is under threat from things the ACLU deals with. It isnt a startup, far from it, but the ACLU is someone that you want on speeddial these days.


I don't donate to the ACLU because I believe in the civil rights for all people, outside the womb, and inside. Is there a similar organization I can donate to?


Consider the EFF. They're more narrowly focused, and unlikely to come in conflict with your beliefs. And, with a battle over Net Neutrality being almost inevitable, they could use our help, too.


That this is being downvoted is extremely telling of the audience here. Engage in a discussion if you disagree. Downvoting unpopular opinions into oblivion is how you get a SV/liberal echo chamber.


This is being downvoted because of the intentionally passive-aggressive language that was used by the poster. It's fairly clear that the poster isn't interested in engaging in a discussion due to this. Even ignoring the phrasing, it wasn't a post that merits much discussion -- simply responses in the form of references to groups similar to the ACLU that are anti-abortion.


I am afraid you have read way too far into my comment. It really isn't, it's simply a way of rephrasing the argument, rather than just saying "I am Pro-life" which will get surely downvoted to oblivion, I phrased in a way that might make sense to rational thinkers -- that I believe civil rights should be applied to all created beings, both born and unborn, but boy was I wrong. I am legitimately interesting in supporting civil liberties, as I have had the graces of benefiting from civil liberty groups myself in the past, I just cannot look past the fact that the ACLU views persons inside the womb as somehow less human than those immediately outside.


I think I read into your comment exactly how you intended and have just described. Perhaps the "intentionally" portion of my "intentionally passive-aggressive" comment was incorrect, but the rest of what you just described is exactly what I (and I presume other down-voters) understood your comment to be.

Your phrasing as "I believe in the civil rights for all people, outside the womb, and inside" carries the implicit assumption that pro-abortion people do not, in fact, believe in the civil rights for all people. The reality is that the down-voters likely do believe in the civil rights for all people, but do not believe that a fetus is a person yet. Since that is generally the debate between those who are for and against abortion, the feeling of passive-aggression from your comment stems from entirely disregarding the other side's point of view and instead simply implying that they don't care about civil liberties.

FWIW, I think just saying "I am pro-life" wouldn't have gotten you down-voted to oblivion.


I strongly agree. Let’s be better than this, please.


[flagged]


[flagged]


Please comment civilly (this kind of misquotation is not) and substantively or not at all.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


FIRE is a higher education focused group that's probably more in line with your sensibilities. They mostly focus on 1a topics, but they do good work.

https://www.thefire.org/

The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE's core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.


If you're referring to this specific immigration issue, the National Immigration Law Center is a good one: https://www.nilc.org/


Can you elaborate on why that position excludes the ACLU from receiving your support? I don't understand your position.


Since they mentioned the womb, I'm assuming this person is pro-life. The ACLU is decidedly not pro-life.

https://www.aclu.org/issues/reproductive-freedom/abortion


Not so much pro life, as I like to disassociate myself from that hypocritical stance, but I like to call myself "whole life" or basically pro life for the whole life, from beginning to end.


Same, but I still use the term "pro-life". It's my attempt to take back the term :)

I'm a strange mix of conservative and liberal views, but I find myself strongly agreeing with "whole life" groups like Democrats for Life of America.

https://www.facebook.com/Dems4Life/


Thank you. That seems clear now, I must have mis-read their post.


Not the poster above you, but the ACLU is pro-choice, and the comment you replied to sounds to be pro-life.


To really spell it out, as these "pro-life/pro-choice" terms are somewhat esoteric and not always understood by foreign speakers, the ACLU is in favor of abortion rights and many conservatives are against abortion rights.


The terms I usually see are "pro-choice" and "anti-choice." Everyone on the planet is "pro-life" and thinks abortion is a bad thing, the question is whether outlawing abortion results in better outcomes than allowing it. I think there is room for reasonable disagreement, though legally speaking it's largely a settled issue.


I feel like you have that backwards. All evidence indicates that legal abortion results in no more abortions occurring, but those that do occur will be safer. Legally speaking there seem to be a fair number of people who want to outlaw it anyway.


That the terms you usually see are "pro-choice" and "anti-choice" means nothing more than that your particular filter bubble is strongly pro-choice. Pro-lifers never call themselves "anti-choice"; they call themselves "pro-life." Conversely, pro-choice activists never call themselves "pro-life" (except maybe in rhetorical arguments such as the one you just provided).


> Everyone on the planet … thinks abortion is a bad thing

I think it's a pretty damn good thing when it's needed, so let's cool it with the "everyone on the planet thinks" business.


It can be better than the alternative, but I think you would be hard pressed to have anyone say abortion is a good thing. The ideal would be no unwanted pregnancies in the first place.


That response assumes that "unwanted pregnancies" are the only reason a woman would want an abortion. There's plenty of medical reasons why it would be necessary.


I believe that outside of the weirdness in America and the church, and perhaps a few religious groups a lot of people really don't care. I'd say a vast majority of people in the world aren't caught up this particular whirlpool of emotions.


Legally speaking, the situation could change drastically based off of new composition of the U.S. Supreme Court, legislation making abortion de facto banned, or an amendment to the Constitution explicitly banning it.


A more neutral way to put it would be that the ACLU is in favor of abortion rights and many conservatives are in favor of fetal rights.


Sounds like he is anti-abortion.


isn't it funny how you can safely conclude that it is a "he"?


Right, because this is Hacker News.

There are lots of pro-life women out there.


Being on Hacker News does not make someone a "he." (Which is a good thing. My husband and kids would be a bit taken aback otherwise.)



Women are more likely to support abortion restrictions than men.

http://www.pewforum.org/2017/01/11/public-opinion-on-abortio...


I appreciate that you're concerned for people inside and outside of the womb, but I think you're not paying enough attention to a third group: the people who are the womb.


But inside the womb they're not people yet.


[dead]


Please don't create throwaway accounts just to criticize others. I've flagged your comment.


Oh, yeah there is, and you can donate here: https://action.aclu.org/secure/donate-to-aclu


Does YC have a page of their particular positions on various political matters which guides their decisions on which non-profits to support and which ones not to? I'm genuinely interested in reading a "platform" as it were on what YC believes and is willing to support.


Yes this is somewhat dangerous for YC. I would like to see that this was planned before November and their support was not determined by who the president turned out to be. Combined with the outspoken politics of Paul Graham1, I get the feeling people who identify as conservatives may not feel welcome at YC.

1 http://twitter.com/paulg

EDIT: I changed "conservatives" to "people who identify as conservatives" to clarify. Some replies below referred to the philosophical conservatism, which is somewhat different.


I think neither PG's tweets nor this ACLU post are actually against the broad ideas of conservatism.

If you believe in individual freedom, small government, low taxes, and heavy use of market solutions, I haven't seen anything from YC that runs against those ideas.

The issues YC seems to oppose are nativism/xenophobia and authoritarianism. Opposition to the former is a wholly rational decision to preserve YC's access to the best international founders, and authoritarianism presents slightly more round-about problems for YC in reduced press freedom and tighter relationships between large corporations and government, both of which make life more difficult for startups.

Lastly, there exists a wing of American conservatism which is significantly more racist, sexist, and homophobic than the national average. I think you're right, that group would not feel welcome at YC nor should they. Their exclusion is based on their personal views, which they are capable of changing. Their inclusion would make others feel excluded on the basis of immutable traits, which is far worse in my opinion.


> Lastly, there exists a wing of American conservatism which is significantly more racist, sexist, and homophobic than the national average. I think you're right, that group would not feel welcome at YC nor should they. Their exclusion is based on their personal views, which they are capable of changing. Their inclusion would make others feel excluded on the basis of immutable traits, which is far worse in my opinion.

I'm not sure which "wing" of conservatism you are speaking of but I'm neither "alt-right" but my views are likely to be labeled as something like "homophobic." I get the feeling that national average you speak of isn't really average so much as it's left-leaning and acceptable in your views.

I do agree that there are people who are vehemently and dangerously bigoted and I gladly condemn them. However, there are people who have extremely reasoned yet different beliefs than most people you'd likely find at YC.

If the left is going to continue to preach "inclusivity" and "diversity" then it would behoove them to actually ensure that there are those things rather than limited everyone to a particular worldview that makes people feel comfortable.


"I'm not sure which 'wing' of conservatism you are speaking of but I'm neither 'alt-right' but my views are likely to be labeled as something like 'homophobic'....If the left is going to continue to preach 'inclusivity' and 'diversity' then it would behoove them to actually ensure that there are those things rather than limited everyone to a particular worldview that makes people feel comfortable."

The leader of YC is a gay man. A number of YC founders are also gay.

I bring this up not because it comes up a lot, but because you seem to view homophobia as an "opinion" that should be respected by gay people as "inclusive" and "diverse". You can certainly believe that, but you're not likely to get anywhere with it.


tl;dr - disagreement != homophobia.

The issue I have is that what some people consider "homophobic" isn't really homophobic at all. For example:

Not homophobic: * Having a deeply held belief that homosexuality is wrong. * Being for laws that provide freedom of conscience. * Being against laws that elevate people to a protected class.

Actually Homophobic: * Conspiring against, starting rumors about, or otherwise attempting to defame someone simply because they are gay. * Verbally or physically assaulting someone simply because they "look gay". * Believing that anyone who claims to be LGBT isn't really a person (or is somehow lesser) because they aren't like you.


I'm not getting caught up in semantics. If you have a "deeply held belief that homosexuality is wrong", then you probably shouldn't be surprised if a group of people that includes homosexuals doesn't want to include you if you express that view, and/or act on your belief.

But sure, obviously, anything you want to think in your own head and not express publicly is fairly immune to labels. I'm thinking things right now, for example.


So you're OK with blatant discrimination by a certain group of people against one or more people with deeply held beliefs? Are you saying that if a group of Muslims or Christians came to YC that they "shouldn't be surprised" if they were rejected because they made a point to express that they held orthodox beliefs?

I'm failing to see how that isn't blatantly hypocritical.


Homosexuality in other members of the YC community doesn't affect you. Their private actions don't affect their peers at all, and the fact of their attraction to the same sex doesn't preclude anyone else from participating in YC.

If you think homosexuality is wrong but you keep that to yourself and don't let it influence your business decisions, your private beliefs will also have no effect on other YC founders, and you'll be welcome in the community.

If a gay man said "I believe heterosexuality is wrong and I reserve the right to not do business with heterosexuals to keep my conscience free" they wouldn't be included because that's blatantly discriminatory.

A gay man saying "I don't want to work with people who believe my sexuality is wrong and reserve the right not to do business with me because of it" that's just a rational choice to avoid people who want to punish them for something that only matters to them and their partners.

Mutual tolerance isn't a hard concept. Tolerating others' intolerance of you is not part of it.


[flagged]


I don't think that's a significant issue. Ycombinator's political positioning goes beyond a one line statement "We oppose nativism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism."

The partners in their individual capacities largely stick to statements on specific issues, and YC itself mostly promotes specific organizations and policies, eg permissive immigration rules for entrepreneurs. There's little ambiguity in those statements and actions, so it's up to every individual applicant to determine whether the sum indicates an overall culture they could enjoy.

If you have a specific YC action/statement which you think runs counter to a conservative position outside of nativism, xenophobia, authoritarianism, the HN readers would probably enjoy reading it so they can weigh its meaning for themselves.


* Much of pg's writing leans libertarian or even conservative.

* Many conservatives do not support Trump's policies. Conservativism is traditionally about preserving stable society and carefully evaluating changes before radically changing society.

I think many took a wait-and-see approach to Trump. Sure, he was bombastic during the campaign and said a lot of bad things, but he's a screwd businessman. Surely he will get some decent advisors and not breaks things.

The last week has made it clear that is not the case. Trump and Bannon are determined to reshape society in their own image, and that is really scary. It is clear Trump's executive orders have not been run past anyone sensible, and they make no attempts to limit unnecessary damage to people's lives.


Time for conservatives to sack up, speak out, and vote their conscious, then. They've been extremely quiet so far.


They are; the party loyals use softer language (like John McCain), but there are plenty who owe trump nothing and are a bit louder (like the Koch Brothers)


We'll see how much the Koch brothers care in the mid-terms; if they're not pressuring senators and congressmen to oppose trump at the risk of primary challenges, we'll see that either their loudness is only about his tone, or that they are powerless to fight Trump's base.


There are like two dozen actual "conservative" true believers in America, and most of them (Bill Kristol, David Frum, etc) hold some pretty odious views about things like war and torture.


(Emphasis mine)

> I think many took a wait-and-see approach to Trump. Sure, he was bombastic during the campaign and said a lot of bad things, but he's a screwed businessman. Surely he will get some decent advisors and not breaks things.

Intentional, typo ("shrewd"), or Freudian slip?


typo


The unfortunate thing is that the ACLU should be non-partisan and only fighting for those who are having their rights threatened. It just so happens that in the last week or so, it was Conservatives doing the threatening. There aren't a lot of incidents in recent memory of liberals taking away rights from folks, so you get a slant of ACLU vs Conservatives. The irony of wanting a small government I guess.


Theoretically, yes. However, the ACLU has historically been perceived (especially by the right-wing) as a left-wing organization, since it stood for things like racial equality, religious equality, and most importantly the end to (mostly anti-Communist) restrictions on political expression.

Hence the attacks on Dukakis for being a member of the ACLU during his election campaign, and his joking self-labeling as a "card-carrying member of the ACLU" (in reference to McCarthy's references to "card-carrying Communists").

EDIT: And for yet more historical background - it was originally founded (as the Civil Liberties Bureau) to defend anti-war speech and conscientious objection during World War I, which were mostly left-wing and far-left-wing phenomena. Post-war, in addition to serving as an ethnically-neutral counterpart to ethnic civil-liberties organizations such as the ADL (Jewish) and the NAACP (African-American), it spent a lot of time defending free political speech. And the free political speech that was most under attack through its seminal period in the 1920s was labor organizing and socialist politics. (Because of the phenomenon of white-supremacist Southern Democrats, minority-rights issues did not necessarily line up with party politics, but they were indeed perceived as left-right issues in the sense that racial equality was considered a far-left position.)


Here is an interesting paragraph from wikipedia:

``` The ACLU has been criticized by liberals, such as when it excluded Communists from its leadership ranks, when it defended Neo-Nazis, when it declined to defend Paul Robeson, or when it opposed the passage of the National Labor Relations Act.[62][63] Conversely, it has been criticized by conservatives, such as when it argued against official prayer in public schools, or when it opposed the Patriot Act.[64] The ACLU has supported conservative figures such as Rush Limbaugh, George Wallace, Henry Ford, and Oliver North; and it has supported liberal figures such as Dick Gregory, Rockwell Kent, and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[18][65][66][67][68][69][70][71] A major source of criticism are legal cases in which the ACLU represents an individual or organization that promotes offensive or unpopular viewpoints, such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, Nation of Islam, North American Man/Boy Love Association, or Westboro Baptist Church. The ACLU responded to these criticisms by stating "It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive."[72] ```

Also I found this article: http://www.aclufightsforchristians.com/

Seems like ACLU historically has not cared about partisan politics, left vs right, and care most about their mission of defending civil liberties, and individual rights.


I didn't mean to imply that the ACLU sees its mission as a partisan, or that they follow partisan lines on pursuing cases; just that they have predominantly pursued leftist cases (because that's where civil rights were historically most seriously infringed) and that therefore that support for it is seen as a partisan act.

Says something about the as state of (particularly right-wing) American politics, IMO.


> There aren't a lot of incidents in recent memory of liberals taking away rights from folks

That's a joke, right? The ACLU has been a prominent critic of Obama's executive overreach and even Muslim profiling.


Yes I agree the ACLU should be (and IMHO is) non-partisan. It's just that if YC appears to fund and partner with the ACLU only when conservatives gain power, that will be negative for YC.


Not if there is some inciting incident that coincided with conservatives gaining power, like, say, a partial Muslim ban. In that case it wouldn't be an attack on conservatism as an "identity" but against certain specific policies that are being carried out by conservatives.

Some good evidence against your interpretation of YC's actions here as simple partisan attack:

* YC did not partner with the ACLU on election day, or on inauguration day, but only after a partial Muslim ban became the law of the land.

* YC quasi-defended Peter Thiel and allowed him to remain as a partner in the face of pretty strong pushback from the left.


Many conservatives, from traditional big government conservatives like John McCain and Dick Cheney to small government advocates like the Koch brothers are coming out against this change. It is not a clean partisan divide.

Don't let the people kissing up because they have to work with him fool you. This is broadly alarming in many conservative circles too.

https://www.google.com/amp/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/id...

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/4652905/koch...


Authoritarians are very possibly not welcome. Non-authoritarian members of the religious right, cultural conservatives, etc. are very likely welcome. (And of course any variety of libertarian.)


Cultural conservatives are authoritarian. They argue for restricted social liberty.


I think that depends, and the issue is more complicated than you make out. To play devil's advocate, consider the conflict between freedom of association (or religious freedom) and anti-discrimination laws. You could argue that valuing either is a pro-liberty stance. The notion of liberty is kind of difficult to pin down when you're talking about interactions between free individuals.


There are some people out there that are culturally conservative personally, but don't believe in forcing their beliefs on other via laws. Not many, but they do exist. And they generally vote libertarian.


> I get the feeling conservatives may not feel welcome at YC.

What we are seeing over the last week and what is expected to be coming from the Trump administration in the near future have little to do with liberal vs. conservative. I know many conservatives who are outright horrified by what they are seeing.


Doesn't matter how they feel, it matters how they vote.


Who did they vote for?


Did any president before a few days ago denied the entry to green card residents? No? Well they may think it's a sign of things to come so it's rational to start supporting the ACLU now; and sure there are another million problems they turned a blind eye before, doesn't mean they have to turn a blind eye to all the problems forever


Conservatives of a libertarian bent are likely to feel quite welcome, and AFAICT have always been well-represented.


I'm not sure that's so true any more. See: calls to sever ties with Peter Thiel on every political thread on HN right now.


Well that's because he's publicly backed Trump, who is as un-libertarian as you can get.


That is being thrown around a lot and actually isn't true. Thiel did not accidentally back Trump and backing Trump isn't contradictory with being a libertarian. (However, claiming that Trump is perfectly adheres to libertarian principles would be.)

Compare Donald Trump to Ron and Rand Paul, which are the prime examples of what libertarianism is (unlike Gary Johnson), there is a lot of overlap: free market healthcare, strong borders, deportation of illegal aliens, deregulations, tax cuts and tax code simplifications. There are disagreements on free trade (and please note that TPP is "free trade", not free trade) and NSA spying.


Upvoted, thanks for a sensible statement (though I disagree, mostly on the basis of the free trade and police-state points which you rightly mentioned).


Thank you for being open to a different perspective.


I don't think it's fair to call the Pauls more central examples of libertarianism than Johnson. They're more moderate on most things but also have a strong strain of cultural conservative that cuts against the libertarian strain.


Johnson isn't a libertarian at all as he doesn't support freedom of association.

As for Pauls being conservative, as long as they are not using government power to force you to be like them it's all fine in my books.


that depends entirely on whether you view a global job market as intrinsic to libertarianism. For nationalist libertarians, Trump's economic focus would presumably be a good thing.

as far as I've seen, a global job market has resulted in more exploitation than prosperity. Most of the profit seems to go to international businesses that have little interest in giving back to their host nation in the form of jobs or taxes.


> nationalist libertarians

That's not entirely a coherent combination of labels; the closest thing in the real USA to that seems to be bog-standard conservatives who selectively deploy libertarian rhetoric against programs they oppose.


>That's not entirely a coherent combination of labels

what is incoherent about it? Both libertarianism and nationalism are vast repositories of political thought that can be combined in any number of ways. Libertarianism at its core does not require forfeiting national interests, nor do national interests require forfeiting a global economy founded on capitalist principles.


The two labels seem to come from completely different cores to me. Namely, libertarianism stresses autonomy, personal liberty, and individual self determination. Nationalism tends to in contrast endorse a more collectivist viewpoint.

The reaction to Trump's executive order actually seems to personify the inherent conflict between the two sides -- while a lot of conservatives (including, I would say, those with more nationalistic viewpoints) approve of the executive order, the libertarian side so far seems to be pretty vocal about their disapproval.


I suppose it depends on what you value most within each political sphere and how you decide to splice the two together. For example, Trump wants to lower taxes across the board, and reduce regulation - both staple libertarian positions. He also wants strong borders and to invest in public infrastructure - both nationalist positions. There are some conflicts between these positions, but they aren't in any way incompatible in my opinion.

I think the assent/dissent situation around Trump is a lot more complex than "conservatives for, libertarians against", precisely because his platform consists of a mix of ideological positions. He has almost nothing in common with neoconservatives (which seems to have been a big hitter for public appeal), and both conservatives and libertarians seem to differ depending on their concern for specific libertarian policies. Hence the fracturing of the GOP, with as many representatives condemning him as supporting him. After all, the GOP is nothing if not a grab-bag of varying political positions.


Trump also want to bring back stop and frisk which is about as un-libertarian as you can get.


> nationalist libertarians

Now there is a term I never expected to see.


there's plenty of room for nuance in politics.


The ACLU didn't have $24m burning a hole in their pocket four months ago.

Also, conservatives need to get off their "persecuted" high horse for a second and take a look around themselves. Donald Trump is the one butt-fumbling his way into empowering organizations like the ACLU by scaring the shit out of right-minded people. As these groups experience spikes in popularity and cash, they're going to reach out and start working on new initiatives.


The ACLU, in the past week, received as much $ in online donation as it has over the past six years.

Cash talks and bullshit walks. Tell me, if you're a free-market conservative, why YC or the ACLU should disregard such a resonating and clear message from the market.


one opinion: there's nothing wrong with YC supporting the ACLU or even openly opposing Trump, but consider any Trump supporters (either public or private) that they currently work with. How can they be sure that they won't be discriminated against if YC has taken a stance against their political beliefs? And for those supporters who were planning on applying to YC, how can they know that YC will treat them neutrally?

If YC wants to be politically oriented, they can and should, but it strikes me as something they should be open about.


I don't think there's any neutrality in the process and we shouldn't pretend there is.

Participating in YC is assenting to American capitalism and working to enrich YC investors, which is a political act. Cooperating with Peter Thiel is a political act. Expanding the labor supply in markets with unions is a political act. Disrupting healthcare is a political act. Employment under H1B visas is political.

YC can admit [your candidate here] supporters and say 'we won't discriminate based upon your political affiliations or your vote' but they will absolutely discriminate against each other's political aims because of the political ramifications of the any work done by technologists.


> Participating in YC is assenting to American capitalism and working to enrich YC investors, which is a political act.

With a number of layers of indirection, maybe. Capitalism is a system of economic organisation and is not inherently political. The wide variety of both left-leaning and right-leaning capitalist countries speaks to that.

what I mean when I say political is overt politics. You can argue that "the personal is political" or "everything is political" but there's a considerable difference in granularity between agreeing to work with a libertarian or trying to improve the healthcare industry, and donating money to an anti-Trump cause. Donating to the ACLU is an act of political affiliation given their recent spotlight, whereas simply agreeing to work with Thiel or employing a H1B worker is an economic act in the frame of capitalism.


If capitalism is not political because it's just a system of economic organization, then it's not political to dismantle capitalism and institute a socialist economy.

Economic systems are SO radically political that people used 'socialist' as a slur against Obama. McCarthyism. CIA overthrow of democratically-elected socialist governments. Not political?

Not to pick on Peter Thiel, but he's a convenient and recent example. He donated $1.25M to Trump. He wouldn't have had $1.25M to donate to Trump if people didn't earn that money for him. You can cast it as wishy-washy, indirect, etc. but at the end of the day that check cleared.


socialism is a political system that demands a particular economic system - a planned economy. A planned economy in itself is not political, in that it's a specific way of organising labour. A barter or gift economy are also economic models, neither of which are inherently tied to a political system.

"Socialist" as a slur for Obama was in reference to the political act of taxation and wealth redistribution. Neither of these things are capitalist, and the term "socialist" has a somewhat different meaning to the original political system, when it comes to American politics. American "socialism" is more akin to social democracy i.e. a capitalism-driven welfare state. At least, that's my understanding.

McCarthyism was political, nothing to do with economics. The CIA interfered with other countries' political process (i.e. staging a coup).

The whole idea of capitalism is that people join together in free association to trade for mutual benefit. The responsibility ends there. If I buy your goods and then somewhere down the line you decide to use that cash to buy a weapon and kill someone, I am in no way responsible for that because it is a separate transaction that I did not enter into. Ergo, trading with Thiel is not a political act that can somehow be ratified retrospectively. It is an economic act. If your agreement was "I'll trade with you on the condition that you donate the profits to Trump", then it becomes political. From my perspective, the distinction is pretty clear to be honest.


> If I buy your goods and then somewhere down the line you decide to use that cash to buy a weapon and kill someone, I am in no way responsible for that because it is a separate transaction that I did not enter into.

That argument might work until you try to convince any other person. If you're buying cocaine from FARC, what did you expect them to do?

Similarly all the profound libertarian arguments on this thread will last up until they need $500k for cancer treatment and end up an indentured servant to a future billionaire hedge-fund AI.


> That argument might work until you try to convince any other person. If you're buying cocaine from FARC, what did you expect them to do?

even throwing FARC or cocaine into that equation muddies the water because cocaine is illegal (and thus inherently a political purchase) and FARC are known for their violent tactics and thus when you purchase from them you are wilfully accepting that your money may be used for violence (unless you aren't aware of what FARC does when you enter the transaction).

If you want to get into the ambiguities of terrorism and drugs, then what about your average joe buying some weed from their local dealer? If you know that dealer works with a cartel then by buying from him you are knowingly funding the cartel. If you have no idea whether he works with a cartel or not, then you can't be said to be knowingly funding the cartel - you are just participating in a transaction. The alternative as I see it is to suggest that everyone who smokes marijuana illegally is pro-cartel or pro-terror, or at least is OK with the idea that their money may be used for violence.

> Similarly all the profound libertarian arguments on this thread will last up until they need $500k for cancer treatment and end up an indentured servant to a future billionaire hedge-fund AI.

this is literally the entire point of the insurance industry - to absorb black swan risks. Do you think that insurance would not exist in a libertarian society? Plus, by reintroducing supply and demand into the medical industry you would likely see those obscene costs fall drastically when no-one can afford $500k for treatment, especially with reduced government bureaucracy and regulation increasing costs.


> McCarthyism was political, nothing to do with economics.

McCarthy hunted down communists (supposed and actual).

> The whole idea of capitalism is that people join together in free association to trade for mutual benefit. The responsibility ends there.

It appears to me that you are conflating 'socialism' with 'planned economy' and 'capitalism' with 'free market'.


> McCarthy hunted down communists (supposed and actual).

yes, and communism is a political belief. Political persecution is a political action, not an economic one.

> It appears to me that you are conflating 'socialism' with 'planned economy' and 'capitalism' with 'free market'.

I don't believe I am. The premise of capitalism is mutually beneficial trade of privately owned and produced goods. I think you are confusing capitalism and social democracy, in that social democracy adds burdens onto the capitalist economy (for example, taxes and regulations) for the benefit of society at large and to counteract the problems that free-market capitalism can create (exploitation, the tragedy of the commons, etc).


if you think communism is political, but capitalism isn't, you're an ideologue, full stop.


> The ACLU, in the past week, received as much $ in online donation as it has over the past six years.

That's pretty depressing.


Or very encouraging that many people are becoming more involved.


> Combined with the outspoken politics of Paul Graham1, I get the feeling people who identify as conservatives may not feel welcome at YC.

Peter Thiel is still a partner at YC. So there is someone high-profile openly allied with Trump at YC, YC is not as radical left-wing as some people try to paint it.


Please, a startup incubator/accelerator, and the SV culture, are the pinnacle of capitalism.


> I get the feeling conservatives may not feel welcome at YC.

Sounds like a personal problem. "Oh no, an organization that defends people's liberties is making me feel uncomfortable!"


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So they're not going to have to use eminent domain to purchase the land to build the wall?

A lot of conservative landowners on the border are very much against the idea, and private property ownership is part of the reason the current fence has gaps in it.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/09/17/texas-border-w...


Ya know, some of us are fine with defending our borders but realize that the image of a big wall in our head is a lot nicer than the reality of seizing land and spending billions ineffectively.


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I have a degree in political science. I run in a number of highly educated circles, generally from left to libertarian. I can assure you, without any shadow of a doubt, that

> Among most people with an education conservatives are not really welcome right now

is untrue.

I don't think that most educated people lump Trumpian ignorance and the politics of idiocy with conservatism; the two traditions have completely different origin stories and share relatively little philosophical or political underpinnings. It is precisely people in the academic community who are most keen to recognize this.


My, disregarding all external political input is an awfully conservative viewpoint, don't you think?


Isn't the ACLU non-partisan?


Yes, they are. The thing that really put them on the map was decades ago, when they defended the right of Nazis to march in the heavily Jewish community of Skokie, IL.


Link for those interested in this piece of history.

https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-history-taking-stand-free-sp...


Nominally, but so are other organizations that are clearly partisan in practice. I don't think anyone disputes that members of the ACLU are overwhelmingly democrats.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Liberties_Union...

It's hard to imagine this doesn't have real-world consequences, e.g., strategically choosing to not defend right-leaning speech as vigorously as left-leaning speech.


The ACLU tries pretty hard to stick to their values, even when it puts them in opposition to Democrats. They've sued the Obama administration several times and have frequently defended groups (ex. Nazis) which liberals find repugnant.

For example, the ACLU supports the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United even though the majority of liberals and democrats strongly oppose it.


The ACLU has not defended the Nazi cause; the ACLU has defended the cause of free speech and peaceable assembly, even when those speaking and assembling peaceably are themselves Nazis.

The distinction is quite critical.


You're right that "cause" is not quite the right word, but they have literally defended Nazis (a decision I absolutely applaud).


They defend actual Nazis. That's about as right-leaning as you can possibly get.


Actually, I think a more telling test is "would they defend a Republican's civil rights (against liberals)?"


What would that meaningfully look like? Can you come up with an example? The majority of the ACLU cases are filed against a government or individual representing the government, so perhaps you can find one where it's against a Democratic administration or official.

https://www.aclu.org/defending-our-rights/court-battles

Can you see anything there that would be representative of what you're saying?


An example: Forbes argues that the ACLU explicitly refused to take a position against free-speech infinging anti-religious-defamation resolution at the UN, even though they have taken public stances on many international resolutions more aligned with the left.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/20/aclu-free-speech-opinions-c...

Another example: Techdirt argues that ACLU fails to defend free speech of wedding photographer who violated equal protection legislation by refusing photograph gay wedding.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131121/02445825319/unfor...


Thanks for the links!

Right off, I want to clearly state that I'm not a lawyer, so my ability to judge the merits of these cases is very suspect. To the point where I'm hesitant to attempt to address them at all for fear of appearing exceedingly ignorant.

With the UN resolution, I see the inconsistency between their avowed reason for not joining the other groups (we don't get involved in international issues). The rest of the article is speculation as to the real reason why, on which I think reasonable people can disagree on. It's not clear to me that this is a clear-cut case of consistent anti-conservative bias. For example, I can imagine without too much difficulty American religious conservatives wanting protection from defamation of religion.

For the wedding photography case, I don't think it's a free speech issue: I think it's a protected-class issue which falls under the Civil Rights Act and its extensions, as in this instance the wedding photographer is acting as a business providing a service, and depending on the jurisdiction, the couple may be a protected class. I'm exceedingly unsure about this whole area of law, though, I'd defer to just about anyone. I don't know how judges decide the balance between free speech and the Civil Rights Act, though I'm sure there's precedent and guidelines.


Yea, I don't know nearly enough about these cases to have an opinion. But this is what strategic differential vigor would look like: lots of cases like that, slanted toward one party, with each case having a plausible justification, yet in aggregate being hard to defend. But I have no idea if there actually is such a slant (rather than there being a similar number of cases in the opposite direction).


Exactly. I meant to include exactly this. Thanks again for the links. I did see that the author of one of the articles, Wendy Kaminer, used to work at the ACLU and does make claims of ethical decline at the ACLU.

Her 2009 book Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity and the ACLU critiques what she regards as the ACLU’s ethical decline, ideological hypocrisy, and descent into groupthink.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_Kaminer


> In 2003, during her tenure on the national board, she became a strong critic of the ACLU leadership and was centrally involved in a series of controversies that culminated in a highly publicized effort to prohibit board members from criticizing the ACLU.

Wow, that's shameful.

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