Its Virginia local proudly announced that it filed an amicus brief in a case involving teachers in Loudoun County.
The ACLU of Virginia filed an amicus brief in the Loudoun County Circuit Court on behalf of ACLU Virginia, ACLU, Equality Virginia, Equality Loudoun, Side By Side, and He She Ze and We. The brief, filed on October 13, 2021, is in opposition to an emergency petition and preliminary injunction request filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf Mr. Cross and his fellow plaintiffs.
In Chicago, its Illinois chapter chose to take sides in the mayor’s battle to obtain a prior restraint against the police union president.
The ACLU of Illinois weighed in on the mayor’s side, calling Catanzara’s defiant directive a “breach of the public trust” that could have a disparate impact on communities of color.
“Police officers routinely initiate contact, including close contact, with residents across the city. These contacts are especially prevalent in Black and Brown neighborhoods across Chicago that are over-policed and where we see the most frequent use of traffic stops and stop and frisks,” the ACLU statement said.
These two positions have two things in common. They are both from the ACLU, the same organization that still feeds off its legacy by pretending that what it did in 1978 in Skokie has anything to do with what it does now. And they are both direct attacks on free speech, the very cause for which the legacy organization was once understood to exist, the idea that it desperately tries to perpetuate in the minds of journalists, the public and donors who want to believe they can be great supporters of civil rights by supporting the ACLU and still get the authoritarian outcomes they so desperately want because the ACLU says it’s okay.
To the predominant way of thinking on the left, being on the “right side” of a dispute is neither a disqualifier nor an impediment to being filled with civil righteousness. Of course they adore free speech, with the caveat that the free speakers are the good free speakers. And, to be fair to the ACLU, it remains effective in fighting for free speech. It just chooses not to fight unless the case is for free speech by one of its favored groups, or at worst, not free speech by bad people like Nazis in Skokie or white nationalists in Charlottesville.
The ACLU learned an important lesson after Charlottesville. Its own people were too woke, far too woke, to ever, under any circumstances, support civil rights for evil people. But far more importantly, its cash flow came from the unduly passionate, who lacked the capacity to grasp the idea of civil rights but were extremely good at knowing which side they were supposed to back. If the ACLU backed the side they like, oodles of money flowed in and they got to buy new curtains, hire more staff, enjoy a position of importance in the new world order and establish its position for the future of being a critical voice for the tribe.
That last bit, the one where the ACLU got to enjoy legacy credibility as the defenders of Skokie as they switched sides and learned to love the bomb, was the kicker.
One might expect that a civil liberties organization would take the view that compelled speech by teachers is a violation of free speech. After all, academic freedom used to matter. The right not to be forced to utter words because the government mandated it was viewed as a virtue. So why did the ACLU of Virginia side against academic freedom and in favor of compelled speech?
While the teachers may disagree with the policy, they do not have the right to violate it in their capacity as K-12 teachers in the Loudoun County school system. The policy protects trans and gender-expansive students from discrimination, and necessitates equal treatment of all students in Loudoun County. We know that discriminatory practices, such as the refusal to use a student’s gender-affirming pronouns, can exacerbate gender dysphoria and harm socio-emotional development during critical childhood years. Policy 8040 ensures that trans and non-binary students can focus on their education without the added stigmatization, stress and anxiety of being misgendered by their teachers.
Do you favor the policy? Do you agree that teachers’ refusal to use “gender-affirming pronouns” can be harmful to students’ “socio-emotional development”? That’s fine, and perhaps even laudable. But this isn’t the American Gender-Affirming Pronoun Union, even though that might be an easy mistake to make. After all, if you’re of the view that using children’s preferred pronouns is of vital importance, then this would be the side you support. And this being America, you are entitled to support it. And even the ACLU is entitled to support it, if that’s what it chooses to do. But then, it can’t simultaneously support it and claim to stand for civil liberties without being fundamentally hypocritical.
As for the Chicago dispute, the police union president’s anti-vax position is awful, but the right to express awful views is what free speech is there to protect. The rationalization is that the union stance harms “maginalized communities,” and aren’t they entitled to be free from discrimination? Of course, this chaos theory approach to rationalizations works well to strip civil rights from the bad side and always justify it because the good side might eventually suffer. But then, the issue is no longer about prior restraint or even free speech, but how well they can spin a yarn about its ultimate impact on the people they favor, which overcome any civil rights that get in the way.
Again, it’s fine, perhaps laudable, that a group take this position against a police union pushing against vaccinations by cops who will come into contact with people, many of whom will be black, and could cause them harm. All it takes is a failure to respect free speech. It’s not that the ACLU doesn’t get to back the side it prefers. It does. This is America. But it does not get to enjoy the legacy credibility of Skokie or be held out to the public as the legitmate voice of civil liberties. The ACLU has chosen its side and that side no longer is civil liberties unless it’s for the “right” people.