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[flagged] The ACLU Retreats from Free Expression (wsj.com)
26 points by dsr12 on June 21, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments



I, personally hate white nationalists, as they devalue everything good and decent. I also fully support the first amendment. I want to see them shut up but I'll be damned if a law is passed that forces it. Bias needs to be stamped out because we feel it's wrong, not because we're told to do so. External motivation is far less compelling than internal. Laws are external


This particular item has nothing to do with laws about free speech. The ACLU provides legal support to fight government silencing of free speech. But there are always more cases than it can fight. The ACLU has, in the past, supported lots of truly hateful speech on principle. However, as others have pointed out, there's a presumption of good faith. ie, that the hateful speakers really are being silenced, and need legal help. These days, the "pro-free-speech" crowd that gets publicized in the WSJ opinion page and Fox News are completely bad faith actors, seeking to incite hatred and violence, making irresponsible claims, backed by tons of money, and then crying "free speech" when their bad faith is pointed out. The ACLU is, reasonably, calling that crap out as not worth providing legal support to, since those actors are not sincere, they are just troublemakers, sowing discord because it works to their advantage. The ACLU ultimately must stand up for its core principles, and not be sucked into minute parsing of legalistic technicalities, because the bad guys are playing that game to destroy the ACLU and what it stands for, not because they believe in "free speech".


The problem is all of these institutional systems rely a lot on people being in "good faith". From the president to the police-man.

I feel like our institutions are being populated by people who just want to destroy them instead of improving them or even debating their worth.


I'd say white nationalists and the like have more than enough representation these days. They don't need the ACLU wasting limited resources when they've already got the support of the Whitehouse.




I had already read it and didn't see anything compelling. Basically it says its hard to maintain a tolerant cohesive society with intolerant nincompoops running around.

We have intolerant groups on both sides of many issues. Are we going to censor all of them?


    > We have intolerant groups on both sides of many issues. Are we going to censor all of them?
Who did you have in mind?


Abortion, Gun Rights and Religious Freedom are low hanging fruit. To my mind, as a nation we are becoming less tolerant rather than more tolerant across the board. One of the reasons I have largely disconnected from Social Media.


"First they came for the Nazis"? Really?


After hearing ICE agents unironically saying how "they're just following orders", I'm really not surprised people can let themselves think like this.


There's a lot of research out there that the reality is more subtle than just "free speech is free speech".

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance


That's disturbing.

Step one on the SPLC trail.


Anyone got a source that isn't behind a paywall? I can't find any of those quotes from the blurb on the web, not even from the ACLU themselves.


There's a brief article on Reason: https://reason.com/blog/2018/06/21/aclu-leaked-memo-free-spe...

Quoting from it:

It's hard to see this as anything other than a cowardly retreat from a full-throated defense of the First Amendment. Moving forward, when deciding whether to take a free speech case, the organization will consider "factors such as the (present and historical) context of the proposed speech; the potential effect on marginalized communities; the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values; and the structural and power inequalities in the community in which the speech will occur."

The memo also makes clear that the ACLU has zero interest in defending First Amendment rights in conjunction with Second Amendment rights. If controversial speakers intend to carry weapons, the ACLU "will generally not represent them."



Thanks. I don't see anything in there that says they're "retreating from free expression" as the title here claims. Instead, it actually says that they will still defend free speech for those they disagree with, including white supremacists, when the cases make sense.

In fact, the only thing I really see here is them saying that a lot of factors go into deciding which cases they can take, including the fact that they can't take all the cases they want to.

Without something more than this, I think the title is clickbait, if not outright wrong.


Reminder: The WSJ is owned by NewsCorp, who owns FoxNews and NYPost


Reminder: never believe anything said by members of your out-group. Only what's written by your own tribe can be true.


Oh how the mighty have fallen.




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