Clayton Cramer is also discussing the Polk County “free speech zone” situation, partially in response to my post on the subject. Along the way he manages to give a perfect demonstration of the kind of nasty, simplistic and unjustified rhetoric that he is so infamous for. After falsely claiming that the ACLU “had to file suit to prevent free speech on public property”, he quotes an Orlando Sentinel article about the Polk County Commission voting to do away with the “free speech zone”. Then he lets loose with this little gem of attempted demonization against Volokh and everyone else who defends the ACLU against his innumerable unjustified accusations:
I’m sure Professor Volokh will come up with some way to justify the ACLU’s suit to prevent free speech on government property. But let’s face it: if the ACLU weren’t fighting for child pornography, defending NAMBLA, arguing that Megan’s Law violates the privacy rights of convicted child molesters, and demanding states recognize gay marriage, would liberals be so interested in defending the ACLU?
By golly, Cramer, you caught me. You caught Volokh too. The only reason we defend the ACLU is because we’re evil people who are in favor of child pornography and child molestation and gays getting married. Well, at least the last one is accurate, I am a staunch advocate of gay marriage. This is just vicious and ridiculous rhetoric, the sort of simpleminded well poisoning that really should be beneath someone of Cramer’s intelligence. And this is nothing new for Cramer. Every time he can’t handle disagreement he just declares his opponents to be evil, takes his ball and go home. A great example of this comment at Volokh:
I’m done with this bunch. Every time I start to kid myself that liberals are fundamentally decent people with a different perspective, I run into a bunch like this, and I realize, no, you are fundamentally evil people, making excuses to defend child molestation.
More importantly, he uses this declaration of evilness to distract attention away from his false statement at the start of his post. The ACLU did not file suit to “prevent free speech on public property”. In fact, the ACLU’s suit resulted in more free speech on government property because it led to the establishment of the public forum on public property, a space in which all community groups could exercise their rights to free speech, not just Christians. The result was not only nativity scenes but a Hannukah display and a display honoring Zoroastrianism and one honoring the Bill of Rights as well.
Likewise, the ACLU’s second suit was to eliminate the onerous insurance requirement that prevented community groups and individuals from being able to put up such displays. And when the county realized that it was going to lose that case, they agreed to drop that requirement. The result was not less free speech but more. The basic principle is that if you are going to allow one religious group to have access to public property in order to put up displays honoring their traditions, you have to allow all such groups to do likewise. This is a perfectly reasonable principle and constitutionally justified, as I suspect even Cramer would admit (and if he wouldn’t, I’d sure love to hear the justification for it).
That makes it all the more vile and absurd that he sees fit to imply that in order to defend the ACLU in this situation, one must be a pedophile or at least one who sympathizes with them. There is no place for such vicious and indefensible accusations, and if Cramer has a shred of rationality or decency in him, he’ll retract it and apologize. On the other hand, I’m not gonna hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
He then goes on to make silly accusations about the ACLU, again without ever bothering to actually deal with the facts of the case:
If I were Polk County, getting sued by the ACLU first for allowing churches to set up a nativity scene, then getting sued because of liability insurance requirements, I would be tempted to assume that there is no way to make the ACLU happy. Of course, there isn’t, because their goal is to drive all mentions of Christianity out of public places. I am sure at this point there would be NO way for Polk County to make the ACLU happy.
Except that the ACLU was happy with the public grounds being open to all community groups to put up displays honoring their traditions and heritage. That was the result of what they did and it was a perfect solution, wasn’t it? Cramer doesn’t say what he thinks should have happened, but he seems to imply that the only thing he would be happy with is allowing only Christian groups to exercise their free speech on public property. He doesn’t actually say that, of course, but that’s really the only alternative here.
And if he really thinks that the ACLU’s goal is to “drive all mentions of Christianity out of public places”, how does he explain the fact that they sued the county to make it easier for churches to put up nativity scenes without having to buy expensive insurance? Why didn’t they file suit to stop all religious displays from going up on public property? And how does he explain the ACLU defending the rights of street preachers all over the country to preach on public property? Or why they’ve defended the right of churches to use public parks to perform baptisms? Oh, I’m sure these will be dismissed as exceptions to the rule. After all, he’s already decided that they, like all “liberals”, are evil fans of child molesters; once you’ve reached that conclusion, why bother being fair or accurate in your statements about them?
You don’t suppose the money that gets awarded to the ACLU when they win a suit might encourage them to sue over everything, do you?
Yet again, an accusation without any substance to back it up. In fact, the ACLU doesn’t usually handle such cases themselves. Most of the legal work is done pro bono by law firms, not by the ACLU, so when legal fees are awarded it goes to the law firm. Furthermore, they typically only get a portion of the actual fees. In the Dover case, for example, Pepper Hamilton committed an extraordinary amount of legal assets to the case, where the ordinary fees would be well over a million dollars; they will likely only be awarded a portion of that by the judge. And if they had lost, they would have had to eat the cost entirely.
Just as obviously, even if that was not the case, if the ACLU stood to be awarded money in the case, why did they settle it without getting any of it? The county settled because it became clear they would lose the case. If it was about the money, surely the ACLU would have refused the settlement and gone to court so they could bilk as much money as possible. All of these facts are quite inconsistent with Cramer’s accusation. Will he therefore stop making such accusations? Again, I’m not holding my breath.
The more he tries to argue that he’s not suffering from ACLU Derangement Syndrome, the more he proves that he is.