Thursday, May 25, 2006

In Defense of Free Speech

...but only when it fits their purposes.

It will probably come as no surprise to many to hear that the ACLU, that bastion of free speech, is not quite so tolerant when it comes to speech about its own policies and positions.
The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization’s policies and internal administration.

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

"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.

Given the organization's longtime commitment to defending free speech, some former board members were shocked by the proposals.
Unfortunately, they may have been the only ones shocked by this news. One former board member remarked, "I can't think of anything more contrary to the reason the A.C.L.U. exists." (Hat-tip: Stop the ACLU)

But the ACLU is not the only one employing double standards on he subject of free speech. The Independent Conservative reports that after weeks of spreading information (and misinformation) and working hard to stir up community and nationwide animosity toward the Duke University Lacrosse Team members accused of raping an "exotic dancer," the NAACP just yesterday reversed course when they announced plans to seek a gag order in the case.
From the group that had no problem running around in the media, now they want to keep the defense out of the media.

Gag order sought in lacrosse case

DURHAM — A lawyer with the state NAACP said the civil rights organization intends to seek a gag order in the Duke lacrosse case, and a journalist who participated in a forum with him on Wednesday said media coverage of the alleged rape may deprive the alleged victim of her legal rights to a fair trial.

Al McSurely, an attorney who chairs the Legal Redress Committee for the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he generally respects the defense attorneys in the case as colleagues. But they are violating the State Bar's rules of professional conduct that discourage comments outside court that are likely to prejudice a case, he said.
[snip]

Of course the NAACP had no problems with information in this case going to the media when it was anything that favored the stripper accuser.
Interestingly enough, political figures such as Jesse Jackson and the NAACP have worked hand in hand with some members of the media to prejudice the case against the defendants. However, as more and more evidence appears to exonerate the accused students, the urgent call is suddenly made to suppress information being distributed to the public.

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