Reason Magazine has written a thin obituary about the American Civil Liberties Union. The iconic organization was born in the 1950s out of the Red Scare and lead the way in the civil rights movement but Reason, a center-right libertarian organization bemoans their lack of focus on true Civil Libertarianism in an age where all forms of public speech and action are under attack, especially when it comes to racism and other minorities (especially LGBTQA folks).
What Does Civil Liberty Really Mean?
America is supposed to be a nation of equality and liberty, however, many groups and people have not enjoyed those same rights and freedom. That’s where the ACLU comes in. The ACLU works to protect the constitutional rights of people who don’t always get to exercise all their rights.
The Left and Free Speech
When it comes to liberties and the left, there has been an exciting discussion about the “cancelation culture” and how the leftist Twitter mob can shut down people because they say something that certain people just don’t like. How can we live in a country with freedom of speech when people can put pressure on institutions and companies based upon their own opinion of what is right and what is wrong. Reason Magazine argues that if the ACLU was really interested in civil liberties, they would defend people like Milo Yiannopoulos who has had his career really reduced due to controversial things that he has said. However, the Left hordes of twitter can even turn on leftist darlings like Bill Maher. This week, Kevin Hart stepped down from hosting the Academy Awards because he had made a handful of homophobic tweets in his past. Is this how people should be treated in a country where freedom of speech is a primary right extended to everyone?
The twitter hordes that do a great job of “signal boosting” these scandals, are making a classic moral mistake. They are applying the culture of today to the past. This is rarely going to work. Anyone over the age of 25 is going to remember when the world was much less accepting of the LGBT community. They are going to remember more racist times when jokes about anything non-white, non-heteronormative, we’re normal. Times change and people change. Twitter has become a repository of everything that people say and if someone searches long and hard enough, like Nick Cannon did to Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler, you will eventually find something bad. Does that mean that the entire person must be “canceled?”
Where Do We go From Here?
Reasons’ obituary on the ACLU is thin at best and just because the ACLU doesn’t spend millions of dollars defending conservatives and their right to free speech doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing good work. Often the ACLU takes on cases that many leftists would not be happy about. Rights are only rights when everyone can enjoy them. Civil Libertarianism isn’t the answer. That creates a free-for-all that can leave many minority people and opinions on the side of the road in favor of a dominant opinion. America is becoming a pluralistic nation with a variety of people. That often means that certain remarks and attitudes cannot be openly expressed in public without backlash, especially now. This can lead to people losing work or not being invited to certain places. The best way to balance these is to preserve the rights of freedom speech and open debate while also not denigrating the very real humans you are talking about.