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The ACLU has been taken over by psychopathic haters in Hawaii.
June 25, 2001 6:09 AM   Subscribe

The ACLU has been taken over by psychopathic haters in Hawaii. The First Amendment Conference subcommittee of the state board had planned to invite Clarence Thomas to a public debate with ACLU national president Nadine Strossen, as part of a regular series of such debates that has included many big-name conservatives, including Antonin Scalia. But when certain members of the main state board found out, they flew into a rage and demanded the invitation be recinded. Just SOME of the reasons why these three ACLU board members members, all black, are refusing to allow Thomas to participate (note that these are all direct quotes, publicly stated by state ACLU board members): He is an an Anti-Christ. He is an Uncle Tom. He is an asshole. He is a Hitler. He is a Goebbels. And worst of all, he married a white girl. When the ACLU starts to violently attack freedom of speech and freedom of thought, where else can we turn?
posted by aaron (27 comments total)

 
Damn, I left out the most important reason of all that they gave: "There's a chance, even a likelihood, that a lot of people might like his views." Remember, this is the ACLU saying that Thomas's views must be suppressed.
posted by aaron at 6:16 AM on June 25, 2001


Good link. Here's the quote that cracks me up.

"I have the inside scoop on [Thomas]. Anita Hill wasn’t the only one. When he came [to Hawai'i for a visit], he went to strip clubs."

How can anyone expect someone who has been to strip clubs to have anything to share?

I despise Thomas, and I think he represents much of that which is bad about the US, while opposing most of that which is good. Still, isn't there some sort of pamphlet they give you when you join the Hawaii ACLU? "The Beginner's Guide to Free Speech".
posted by jpoulos at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2001


Actually, the exact quote was "he's married to a white person."

*ahem* In any case, despite the fact that the ACLU of Hawaii can invite or choose not to invite anybody it wants, the Board's stated reason for not inviting Thomas ("he holds unpopular and right-wing views") is utterly counter to the purpose of the debate. As far as the race-baiting is concerned, most of the comments came from Barbee-Wooten and Ferrer, two of the original complainants, and it appears that the Board caved under pressure.

I am encouraged that Nadine Strossen (ACLU National President) sees the hypocricy of the Hawaii Board's actions, and is considering refusing invitation to debate with anybody other than Thomas (the subcommittee's unanimous choice). Perhaps this portends a shake-up in the state organization where folks who are truly willing to defend the speech of others (including those with whom they personally disagree) will push out members such as Barbee-Wooten and Ferrer, who apparently do not believe in that mission.
posted by Avogadro at 7:03 AM on June 25, 2001


clarence thomas is just another follower of rehnquist and scalia ... really, he's more of a toady than he is pure evil.
posted by moz at 7:20 AM on June 25, 2001


As a card-carrying member, I have to say that the behaviour of the Hawai'i board members isn't what I've experienced as "typical" of the ACLU. As a conservative-leaning moderate, my experience is that it is the typical behaviour for alot of liberals who preach diversity, tolerance and respect, but will willingly - even eagerly - abandon those principles when faced with views even slightly more conservative than their own.
posted by m.polo at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2001


liberals who preach diversity, tolerance and respect, but will willingly - even eagerly - abandon those principles when faced with views even slightly more conservative than their own

This is very true, and what they don't understand is that it gives the opposing POV more legitimacy than they should warrant.
posted by owillis at 7:32 AM on June 25, 2001


Anyone who uses the term "liberal" in any context is full of shit to begin with, in my opinion, especially when used to place a glaring example of idiocy into a larger political context.
posted by mblandi at 7:51 AM on June 25, 2001


"Anyone who uses the term "liberal" in any context is full of shit to begin with"

What? That one zoomed right over my head pal. Could you help me understand what the hell you're talking about. The idea that anyone who uses the word "liberal" is either always wrong, or always lying is a little silly.

Perhaps you mean all liberals are always wrong or are always lying? Please help me understand.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2001


Ainh, scratch that. In the spirit of this, I should bring forth proof that the term liberal is spoiled to begin with and refrain from sullying the comments of those who use it.
posted by mblandi at 8:21 AM on June 25, 2001


really, he's more of a toady than he is pure evil.

As opposed to Rhenquist and Scalia, who ARE apparently pure evil?

Why is it not OK to discuss people's relative evilness when they, say, slaughter children, but if you're a conservative, all of a sudden the discussion gets all biblical?

In any event, either you believe in the First Amendment (and for everyone, not just people you agree with) or you don't. It's not too difficult to spot the ones who don't.

Perhaps you mean all liberals are always wrong or are always lying?

I've suspected the former, but always assumed ignorance rather than outright falsehoodery for the latter :)

Sides picked? Firecrackers out? Ready, set... light 'em! :D
posted by UncleFes at 8:29 AM on June 25, 2001


Personally, the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have no real meaning nowadays, as they tend to mean "rabid for this reason" or "rabid for this other reason."

I am surprised, though, at the Hawaii ACLU. Hopefully they'll get spanked.

And Renhquist and Scalia aren't evil because they're conservative. They're evil for entirely different reasons. ;)
posted by solistrato at 8:44 AM on June 25, 2001


Why is it not OK to discuss people's relative evilness when they, say, slaughter children, but if you're a conservative, all of a sudden the discussion gets all biblical?

Good point, except that just because one of us lefties does it in a thread doesn't mean we all think it's OK. I wouldn't use the word "evil" to describe Thomas. How's "vile"?
posted by jpoulos at 8:52 AM on June 25, 2001


fes, we're not discussing people's relative evilness when they slaughter children. i don't know where you're going with that, to be honest.

i made an off-the-cuff remark. my statement that scalia is evil does not necessarily have to make him evil in YOUR mind, if you don't want him to be. relax: your worldview will not suddenly and violently be forever altered by left-thinking conspirators.

in all seriousness, i have no respect for scalia and hardly a drop for rehnquist, and i frankly dread the day that scalia becomes a supreme court justice.
posted by moz at 8:57 AM on June 25, 2001


If the words "liberal" and "conservative" have no meaning, how come everyone seems to be able to pick out which person falls into which camp on which issue, and everyone generally agrees about the assignments?
posted by jeb at 8:59 AM on June 25, 2001


i don't know where you're going with that, to be honest.

Nowhere particular. I get spanked in other threads for saying child-slaughterers are evil (as opposed to "sick"); figured I'd spank back, nothing personal. It seemed like an appropos point, seeing as this is a thread rooted in the First Amendment. An off the cuff reply to an off the cuff comment.

relax: your worldview will not suddenly and violently be forever altered by left-thinking conspirators.

I don't know.... something happened to Jeffords - who's to say it couldn't happen to me? :)

How's "vile"?

Fine with me. Anyone who thinks putting a pube on someone's coke can is a come-on probably qualifies as vile.
posted by UncleFes at 9:19 AM on June 25, 2001


How awful. And I don't know whether Strossen's possible response is even the right one, unless she's planning to reprimand or eject these members after she does come debate.

But it's dismaying to note the use of "psychopathic" to describe the virulence of these committee members' views. Much of what's frightening about hateful views is precisely that the people who hold them are not mentally ill (despite the typical media portrayal of, say, nutso academics or rabid religious rightists) but functioning human beings. The committee is engaged in an absolutely unacceptable abuse of power and trust as defenders of free expression, but what's worse is that there is a significant portion of the population that would act the same way if put in the same position, whether that means placing their personal hatred of Scalia above their duties, or being afraid to stop others in doing so.
posted by Joe Hutch at 9:30 AM on June 25, 2001


Some of the quotes in the topic post aren’t right.

This writer’s slant is on this story is ridiculous. He starts out by saying liberalism has come under some sort of sea change recently, and uses one instance by the Hawaiian ACLU as evidence. How silly is that? If he would’ve just said, “The HACLU is acting hypocritically,” it would’ve been a lot easier to take him seriously.

Hawaii is as Democratic as New York, always has been. That the HACLU would react strongly to Thomas debating anything, let alone free speech, isn’t surprising. Think of someone lobbying for Bill Clinton to give the commencement address at Bob Jones University — how many nice words would be said about Bill then? After the outcome they certainly wouldn’t write self-flagellating articles decrying their lack of diverse opinions.

Certainly the said hateful things about Thomas, but this really has more to do with lingering anger over the election than some imaginary downfall of progressive thought.

jeb, I consider myself liberal, I bet Gore does too, somewhat, but our stance on lots of issues couldn’t differ more. It is a rather meaningless label, especially when it comes to politics. Often, writers who use the term “liberal” are after a very simplistic strawman, is is the case here. It’s a shortcut away from critical thought, as most stereotypes are.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 9:34 AM on June 25, 2001


"how come everyone seems to be able to pick out which person falls into which camp"

This just isn't true for most people. Maybe for some people. But I find your need to stick people into one box or another very unpleasant.

So...... I support abortion rights, protecting the environment, and tighter gun laws. I'm against federal money for faith-based groups, and the war on drugs.

Am I liberal or conservative?

But I also think the death penalty is under utilized, the government has too much control in our lives, and I totally loath the ACLU.

Now - Am I liberal or conservative?
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:55 AM on June 25, 2001


i frankly dread the day that scalia becomes a supreme court justice.

moz, did you miss a couple days of the paper?
posted by rodii at 10:40 AM on June 25, 2001


y6y6y6: I typed: "which person falls into which camp on which issue". I just added the italics now. The way you just grouped your points shows that you can clearly identify which positions are likely to be considered "liberal" and which are likely to be considered "conservative".

Furthermore, I didn't say anything about needing to stick people into one box or another, I said that the words "liberal" and "conservative" seem to have meaning, judging by how people (yourself included, as seen above) seem to know which group of positions goes with which tag. I don't even understand how you got this from my post, which was a simple question about whether or not two words have meaning.
posted by jeb at 10:45 AM on June 25, 2001


er, well the chief justice, rodii.
posted by moz at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2001


Well, O'Connor's probably next up. Hopefully Scalia will never get the nod.
posted by rodii at 11:12 AM on June 25, 2001


My favorite Scalia bit is . . . he recently upheld a right to privacy. George Will called this strict constructionist. Ahem. The right to privacy bit was one of the things conservatives often cited as an evil creation of activist, liberal courts gone awry. It's all horse***. "Conservatism" in this country is nothing but liberalism with a different slant, dressed up by some with talk about Edmund Burke (called "classic liberalism" by some, with Burke left out, but even then it can be horses***, since what's considered "classic" often seems to depend on what year it is and what politicians are popular, what's politically beneficial to one party or another at any given time, etc.)

Also, why exactly am I to trust this article? Doesn't sound like it's even reasonably slanted. It's an advocacy piece, an attack article. Any alternate sources? Also, doesn't make it right, but I remember conservatives in the grad school council on my alma mater's campus (U. of Miss.) refusing to allow Abbey Hoffman to speak, even though others had already spent weeks working out arrangements. In the freakin mid-1980s - actually, happened a lot to Abbey at the time. Allen Ginsberg spoke a couple of years later, though, to large crowds before a major holiday. Go figure. People act goofy sometimes. Doesn't make it right, but it's not a left/right thing. It's a silly people thing.
posted by raysmj at 11:32 AM on June 25, 2001


Here's a slightly less inflamed editorial from the Star-Bulletin.

I'm not going to defend the over-the-top characterizations that were quoted only mildly out of context in this linked-to piece. I do agree this is not typical of the ACLU, and hope that Strossen sticks to her guns; despite its image as a haven for unreconstructed lefties, the ACLU hasn't been afraid to step on liberal toes in the past, e.g. they heartily defend free-speech rights of neo-Nazis or Klansmen. Something I would desperately like to know from an unimpeachable source is what role the quoted letters played in the subcommittee's decision. It would be all to easy, of course, to attribute the decision to the letters, when that may not be the case at all. Unfortunately, the local ACLU website appears to be offline.

In that vein, though, I feel compelled to point out that choosing whom to speak at their events is entirely a free speech right of the ACLU itself. No private person can be compelled to carry another's speech.

I'm confused where "psychopathic haters" comes from here, though. Aaron, are you sure that's a reasonable phrase? If so, how would you justify it?
posted by dhartung at 3:38 PM on June 25, 2001


dhartung: The ACLU has also come out strenuously against a favored modern-day liberal cause - campaign finance reform.
posted by raysmj at 4:23 PM on June 25, 2001


I specifically chose the term "psychopathic;" I didn't just pull it out of the air to be inflammatory. Can't explain now cause I have to run; will do so later tonight.
posted by aaron at 4:29 PM on June 25, 2001


Andrew Sullivan just weighed in on this one, although he further slants what appears to be an already over-slanted piece (which he calls a "chilling account").

Still, The ACLU (or, at least, these members of the ACLU) brought it onto themselves. The ACLU once fought for the rights of Nazis to march through Skokie, and now they don't even want Thomas to open his trap? I suspect that, in the next few days, we're going to see the ACLU in other parts of the nation condemning the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii -- or, again, at least those few members who generated all these juicy quotations.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2001


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