Like Eugene Volokh, I can only laugh at the absurdity of the “where’s the ACLU” argument, which is incredibly popular among anti-ACLU halfwits. The latest incarnation is from a Rabbi and published in Human Events, and it’s about the Duke soccer players. “Where’s the ACLU to defend the Duke lacrosse players?”, the title asks. The good Rabbi lists a number of problems with the Duke lacrosse investigation, all of which are probably accurate; that investigation has been a mess from the very start and eventually I expect those charges will have to be dropped.
But the real purpose of his article is to ask why the ACLU hasn’t jumped in to defend the accused in the case. This is an absurd question, of course, and anyone who actually knows how the ACLU works and isn’t interested in cheap demagoguery would know that. Has the ACLU been asked to do anything in the case? He doesn’t even bother to ask, nor does he seem to think it matters. He also doesn’t seem to know that the ACLU handles civil cases and appellate work, not criminal cases.
The Duke lacrosse case is a criminal case that has yet to go to trial. There is nothing at this point the ACLU could do even if they were asked to do something. They don’t do criminal defense. On appeal, the ACLU might well take the case if asked to do so. Even if not asked to, they might well file amicus briefs in the case on appeal. But no such briefs are allowed in a criminal case, and the defendants all have very competent and highly paid attorneys representing them.
And as noted, the ACLU can’t just go and represent someone who hasn’t asked them to do so. It’s an idiotic argument, so of course it will come as no surprise that Jay at STACLU swallows it completely and links to it. And I think we gained valuable insight into how the STACLU mind works in a comment after that post. When someone pointed out that the Rabbi’s column was little more than a series of complaints with nothing coherent or logical to tie them together, Jay replies:
It probably made him feel better as that is the purpose of most rants. That, and it was probably preaching to the choir a bit too. Why does everything have to have the purpose of changing other people’s minds? Sometimes you just want to express the outrage you’ve been holding inside and hope that some others will identify and share that same emotion..or at least understand it.
As if being an emotional rant means it doesn’t matter whether the arguments are logical and accurate. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it? And we get another good example of this kind of emotional argument immune to reason with Glib’s argument in this post, where he admits that the ACLU is correct but still criticizes them for filing a lawsuit. The suit is over a school that is confining a student to a room by himself because he has a mohawk haircut and he refuses to cut it. Glib admits the suit is correct:
OK, if the school allows another kid to wear this idiotic hair style (as the district solicitor admits later in the article), this kid should be allowed. The “this one is too high” standard won’t “stand up” in court. Why not just apply the standard consistently or adopt a dress code? That would end this garbage and allow the school to educate.
And yet he still calls the suit the ACLU filed on behalf of the student an “inanity”. And bizarrely, he has the following list of ACLU clients that he finds distasteful:
Butt painters, people that can’t prove legal citizenship wanting drivers’ licenses, child rapists who want to prowl parks, raging hate-trolls who revel in the deaths of troops, homosexuals and Amish schoolgirls, porky terrorists in Gitmo who spit at Marines…the ACLU’s clients certainly are a tasty slice of America…
You’ve gotta love the fact that he thinks homosexuals, amish schoolgirls and students whose rights are violated are equivalent to Gitmo detainees. And they are, of course, but not in the sense that he means it. To him, that’s just a list of bad people who don’t deserve defense. Oh my god, you mean the ACLU defends homosexuals? Why yes, in fact they do. Because homosexuals are human beings with the same rights as other human beings. Kids with mohawks, they’re human beings too believe it or not.
But the truth is that no matter how heinous he may find someone to be, all have the same unalienable rights that deserve to be defended. And only a demagogue or a fool equates defending those rights with defending every attribute of the person whose rights have been violated.