I don’t know what to think about this. Remember the prom, where the lesbian girl wanted to wear a tux (gasp!) and bring her girlfriend (gasp) so the local already known to be wacked out school district shut the prom down? You may also know that the ACLU organized an alternate prom, and has been collecting money for it. Well…

To avoid further controversy, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has rejected a $20,000 gift intended to underwrite an alternate prom replacing one canceled by a local school district after a lesbian student demanded that she be allowed to attend with her girlfriend.

The gift, to sponsor one of several privately sponsored alternate events, came from the American Humanist Association, an advocacy group whose mission is to promote “good without God.”

You should go read the article in the NYT.

On the face of it, it seems like the ACLU is being ridiculous. The ACLU is SUPPOSED to do whatever it takes to make their point, even if it is unpopular. Rubbing elbows with humanists isnt’ exactly the most controversial thing they’ve ever done. On the face of this, this looks like appeasement.

On the other hand, it is true (though I’d wager most people don’t know this) that gifts are OFTEN turned down buy the usual organizations that receive them. There are legal, procedural, ethical, and policy related reasons to do so. Most large institutions prefer to take only gifts that have absolutely no strings attached.

On the third hand, this is just money to underwrite something they were already doing.

On the fourth hand, the ACLU lawyer claims that there were conditions that were not acceptable.

And, finally, on the fifth hand, the Humanists claim that it ain’t so.

So what gives, people in Mississippi? Can we please get this straightened out right away so we rational secular type people don’t look as dumb as the yahoos we are fighting with?

(Well, that would be hard, but still….)


  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    April 2, 2010

    It’s also important to note that the donations were simply passing through the ACLU. Unless the ultimate receiving organization made some confusing communication on the subject, the ACLU should not have been turning it down on their behalf without checking.

  2. #2 Rich Wilson
    April 2, 2010

    And the ACLU is backing off on that:

  3. #3 Charles
    April 2, 2010

    First of all, this is Mississippi. It’s a state where, sadly, being godless is looked upon as being immoral.

    Of course it would be nice if all those advocates in Mississippi of the young lesbian woman were also advocates of Humanism. But it ain’t so. And it ain’t gonna be any time soon.

    It is sad that “being good without god” would scare the living bejeezuz out of LBGT supporter in the Mississippi ACLU.

    It’s morally objectionable, but that’s reality on the ground in ol’ Miss.

    I figure they’re a couple decades behind, at least.

    In a way, I can sort of understand the Miss ACLU’s pragmatism. Addressing the rights of a lesbian couple to attend a prom is one thing, but dragging atheism into the picture makes it even more difficult to gain local public support. Se la vi, in Mississippi.

  4. #4 Roger Rotge
    April 2, 2010

    When I read through the article, it seemed as though Ms. Carr may not be on the up and up. The article may have given me the wrong impression, but I get the feeling she’s the bottleneck going unilateral on the decision to reject the money. I agree with Mr. Speckhardt that this, “felt like a slap in the face.”

  5. #5 Roger Rotge
    April 2, 2010

    I retract my comments. I can’t seem to delete them, so I’ll apologize for not clicking on Rich Wilson’s Richard Dawkins link before I posted. The ACLU apologized.

  6. #6 NewEnglandBob
    April 2, 2010

    I see it as the ACLU of Mississippi being bigoted against atheists/humanists.

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich
    April 2, 2010

    In the body of the apology from the Mississippi ACLU:

    Furthermore, please understand that the sentiments expressed in the e-mail you received from our staff member do not reflect the views of our organization in any way. The ACLU of Mississippi is a stalwart defender of freedom of belief and expression for all, and we are appreciative of your commitment to protecting those principles, as well.

    Nsombi Lambright
    Executive Director, ACLU of Mississippi

    I think it is a matter that should not reflect badly on the ACLU and that the employee who made this decision has been chastised but not fired, and then made to buy the office staff a beer each.

  8. #8 forumfokurtu
    April 2, 2010

    I retract my comments. I can’t seem to delete them, so I’ll apologize for not clicking on Rich Wilson’s Richard Dawkins link before I posted. The ACLU apologized.

  9. #9 aporeticus
    April 2, 2010

    This is an outrage. Somebody should tell the ACL…oh.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    April 2, 2010

    aporeticus: That was actually my first thought as well. Who do you call when you need to ACLU the ACLU????