A reader gave me the heads up on this hilariously ridiculous rant from Gribbit at StopTheACLU. It can be summed up quickly in the following manner: "The ACLU are evil communists who hate God and God is going to strike them down for it." Needless to say, if you're going to argue for that idiotic conclusion, you're going to have to build quite an edifice of logical fallacies and distortions to justify it. It's your typical simpleminded, Free Republic-style screed, full of those quasi-clever lines equating Democrats with commies and painting with a brush so broad that it has its own zip code. We can blame Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter for this particularly annoying style that seems to have taken over American political discourse. To wit:
The Great Society has been shown to be a failure. But yet year after year Communists, I mean Democrats (such a bad habit I know - but true), try to implement policies which are designed to re-distribute the wealth of this nation.
*Yawn* Does this style of argument sound anything but idiotic to anyone with an IQ above room temperature? Here's a pop quiz for Gribbit - with full control of the White House and Congress, what have the Republicans done to counter that redistribution of wealth? Answer: made it worse. Far worse. Not only did they pass the largest new entitlement program since the Great Society (and lie about the ultimate cost of it), they also passed legislation that transfers well over $100 billion from predominately middle class taxpayers into the accounts of major corporations through tax subsidies, immunity from liability, tax breaks and much more. It's interesting to me that so many conservatives believe that only welfare programs qualify as "income redistribution", ignoring the vast amounts of corporate welfare in the Federal budget.
And day after day the brain-cell of modern Communist thought in the United States, AKA The ACLU, applies pressure on the federal court system to eliminate all public free expression of religious thought (among other Communist goals). And the idiots who blindly give their money to these Socialist organizations (ie: the ACLU, the NEA, PFAW, NOW, PETA, Greenpeace, AFL-CIO, and the DNC) have no idea that it's being done.
I love the grouping of organizations here, as though they had anything to do with each other. I support the ACLU, but the NEA can't stand me because of my support for vouchers and private schools. PETA I have no use for whatsoever, and the AFL-CIO is every bit as corrupt and self-serving as any government bureaucracy I can think of. And I've never voted for a Democrat in my entire life. But here we have on display two of the most common elements of anti-ACLU rhetoric - the invocation of communism (which one would think had gone away with the collapse of the Soviet Union) and the conflation of free exercise and establishment clause issues.
The "communist" epithet is just plain idiotic. The hallmark of a communist state is the government's authority to spy on their citizens with unchecked authority, imprison them without due process, and use the coercive authority of the state to deny them the right to live their lives free. These are things the ACLU fights against every day. When they fight against, for example, the imprisoning of American citizens without charges being filed (Padilla and Hamdi being the obvious examples), the anti-ACLU crowd condemns them for a lack of patriotism. Yet imprisonment of citizens without charging them with a crime, without giving them their day in court to contest the charges and to confront their accusers, is exactly what we have always condemned in communist governments. It was exactly that kind of abuse of authority that filled the gulags of the Soviet Union.
When the ACLU fights against the unchecked authority of the government to spy on people or to search anyone's person or property without a demonstration of probable cause to an impartial court, the anti-ACLU crowd accuses them of "siding with terrorists". Yet once again, the behavior they are fighting against - the arbitrary and unchecked authority of a government to spy on its people without due process - is the very hallmark of communist governments and always has been. It is precisely that unchecked authority to surveil its citizens that is used in communist countries to keep people in line through constant fear of the government.
When the ACLU fights against the authority of the government to punish consenting adults for sexual behavior in the privacy of their own home, the anti-ACLU crowd calls them "immoral hedonists" out to destroy "traditional morality". But this sort of legal intrusion into our private lives to destroy individual responsibility for the alleged cause of improving society is, again, the sort of thing we object to in communist governments. So the ironic absurdity of folks like Gribbit bashing the ACLU for fighting against the same actions by our own government that they object to in communist governments and still simultaneously accusing the ACLU of being communist should be incredibly obvious to everyone. This contradiction does not, of course, stop them from engaging in profoundly silly accusations like the following:
The ACLU is the major organization pushing for the removal of religious expression from public life. Remove religion, eliminate those who effect political thought, limit the scope of the educational system, and remove the ability for the people to think for themselves, these are the tools of the Communists. And these are the underlying goals of the ACLU.
Here again they are using very slippery rhetoric, conflating "religious expression" in "public life" with government endorsement of religion. These are emphatically not the same thing. People express their religious views publicly millions of times a day, every single day, all over this nation and nothing is done to stop them. They wear religious clothing, hand out religious literature, gather around flagpoles to pray together and publish their religious views in, quite literally, thousands of newspapers, magazines, newsletters and church bulletins. They go door to door to speak to people about their faith and it's perfectly legal. They put up billboards with bible verses on them, take their families to church every week, and broadcast their messages on hundreds of Christian radio and television stations all over the country. None of these things has the ACLU or any other organization attempted to stop.
What Gribbit calls "the removal of religious expression from public life" is really the removal of official government endorsements of his religious views. These are not free exercise issues, they are establishment clause issues. You have every right to say a prayer anytime you'd like to say one, including in a school classroom before a test or in the cafeteria before you eat; you do not have a right to have the government force other people to stand up and say that prayer with you, no matter how many other people agree with you, because the government does not legitimately have the authority to force people to engage in religious rituals against their will. You have every right to decorate your home with religious displays, nativity scenes and creches, and tributes to the Ten Commandments or any other religious doctrine you choose; you do not have the "right" to have the government place such displays on public property and force others to pay for them. These are questions of government authority, not individual expression.
Even if you think that the ACLU sometimes goes too far in objecting to anything that could possibly be interpreted as government endorsement (and I happen to think that myself), these still are not attempts to violate individual free exercise of religion and it is absurd to claim that they are. It becomes doubly absurd when they ignore the consistent support that the ACLU has shown for real public expression of religion. They have defended the right of ministers to preach on the street, on public sidewalks and on public property, all over the nation. They have defended the right of students in public schools to hand out religious literature to their classmates, to wear clothing with religious messages on them, and to organize bible clubs and prayer groups. They've defended the right of religious groups and churches to use public property on an equal basis with other groups. I've documented dozens of such cases here.
He then gets into the 14th amendment and manages to get things pretty much completely wrong:
In 1868, the Congress of the United States passed an Amendment and it was ratified by the people. This Amendment is the 14th Amendment...Now the purpose of this Amendment to the Constitution was to insure all rights, privileges, and protections of the Constitution to former slaves. But in the hands of the ACLU and activist judges, it has become the catch all to trump states rights and authorities. They do this by convincing these activist judges that the Constitutional restrictions on the Congress and other federal bodies apply to the states as well even if the Constitution does not specifically state that. It is an implied meaning. They hide this with the due process argument.
He is confusing the narrowest possible meaning of "intent" with the meaning of the text. Yes, the particular and immediate problem that provoked the passage of the 14th amendment was the fact that the southern states had passed laws that oppressed former slaves freed by the civil war. But the solution to that problem was much broader and the 14th amendment decreed that no state government could violate our rights in any manner that was forbidden to the Federal government to do. Gribbit's argument here is like someone pointing out that the specific motivation for writing the first amendment's free exercise clause was James Madison observing Baptists imprisoned in Virginia and therefore concluding that the free exercise clause only covers Baptists. After the passage of the 14th amendment, state authority to violate the basic rights of all people, not merely former slaves, was restricted by the Federal constitution. And this was quite by the design of the men who wrote the amendment.
The restrictions placed on public displays of nativity scenes, the words Merry Christmas in schools, the pledge of allegiance, and a moment of silence so that children can observe their religious beliefs prior to the beginning of the school day are manufactured by the ACLU and other Communist front organizations by calling on their massive resources to influence judges and convincing them to award high dollar value awards to their "clients" and even more money to them in the form of reimbursed legal fees. Fees which would never be charged to their clients in the first place. Hence the term "pro bono".
Virtually none of this is true. In virtually no establishment clause case are there damages awarded to the plaintiffs, regardless of whether the ACLU is involved. I don't know of a single such case where damages were awarded. It's true that the legal fees of the plaintiffs are often ordered to be paid by the defendants, but this is because Federal law demands it. If you sue a government agency for a constitutional violation and you win, that agency almost always has to pay your legal fees. If Gribbit can find any case where the ACLU sued a government agency for an establishment clause violation and sought "high dollar value awards", I'd sure love to see one. But he can't; they don't exist.
It is these massive fees which are used as a scare tactics by which the ACLU and others strong arm local governments and school boards with threatening letters thereby forcing them to capitulate to the will of the ACLU.
Isn't it interesting that he so selectively views this activity, which is undertaken by any group that sues a school or local government, as "threatening" and "intimidating"? When the Alliance Defense Fund sued the Cupertino school district on the entirely fraudulent charge that the Declaration of Independence had been "banned from classrooms", where was this moral outrage at their "intimidation" of a poor defenseless school district? They cost the school district probably hundreds of thousands of dollars in pursuit of a case that they had no chance of winning and finally just gave up on. When the Liberty Counsel threated a school district in Wisconsin last month with a completely fraudulent lawsuit over a song in their Christmas pageant, I don't recall seeing Gribbit's howling in self-righteous anger at their "scare tactics" aimed at the school district.
Timothy McVeigh isn't the only home grown terrorist in this nation. The ACLU is the biggest terrorist that this nation ever produced. They have raised more money and gotten more of your personal freedoms removed than anybody else in the history of this nation.
Good lord. What can you do in response to such a moronic statement other than laugh? The only blessing for this idiot is that the ACLU will gladly go to court to protect his right to say such monumentally stupid things.
The day is coming when GOD will put an end to this oppression.
I doubt it. Something tells me that God is smart enough to see through this kind of nonsense.
Excellent, Ed. You've provided a nice, rational dismantling of something so stupid that all I could do myself was wax scatological and guffaw. As with owlishly blinking creationists lobbing softballs in the direction of folks like PZ Myers, the silver lining in having a blogosphere infested with delusional buffoons like Gribbit is that I often learn something when someone outside the zoo takes the time to process their tripe.
I tried leaving a trackback was was told on the first attempt that I was trying too often, so: http://beamingvisionary.blogspot.com/2006/01/send-in-clowns.html
"The day is coming when GOD will put an end to this oppression."
Where do these nutters get off with comments like that? Jews have been oppressed for thousands of years without God lifting a finger. Christians were oppressed for hundreds of years until Constantine. Protestants were oppressed in England until Henry VIII, then Catholics, then Protestants, then Catholics again. Was God feeling particularly whimsical that century?
i think i'd prefer communism to whatever type of society it is that stoptheaclu wants.
'the anti-ACLU crowd calls them "immoral hedonists" out to destroy "traditional morality". But this sort of legal intrusion into our private lives to destroy individual responsibility for the alleged cause of improving society is, again, the sort of thing we object to in communist governments.'
This is so true and an argument I make alot. These goofs don't realize how far from freedom they would be if they got their way, which is of course what they want---control.
I agree with your initial assessment, Ed, so long as it's the room temperature in Helsinki in January after the heater broke.
And I've never voted for a Democrat in my entire life.
Wow. So, who did you vote for in 2000 and 2004? Inquiring minds want to know.
Doonesbury said it so well Sunday regarding the nature of the Bush administration along the political spectrum:
So, who did you vote for in 2000 and 2004? Inquiring minds want to know.
Harry Browne and Michael Badnarik (the latter with far more reluctance than the former).
I realize this post is working it's way down towards a back page, but wanted to say regarding this:
The "communist" epithet is just plain idiotic. The hallmark of a communist state is the government's authority to spy on their citizens with unchecked authority, imprison them without due process, and use the coercive authority of the state to deny them the right to live their lives free.
From my brief experience in debating on the this subject with family members, it's *quite* difficult to yank a hardened idealogue like Gribbit back to a real world understanding of what communism is. In their mind the essence of communism simply *is* athiesm, and other reasons that it might be evil or oppressive aren't really in the radar. The idea that a (ostensibly) Christian society might be somehow just as oppressive isn't in the radar either. They've been listening to their trusted radio and TV preachers who spout a distorted and rather paranoid world view week after week, year after year, and I think it's just about impossible for them to shake.
If I understand it right (and maybe I still don't), there's a very odd ramification about this whole perspective -- which is that if it's true, then our government has been spending billions of dollars and banging the drums at 90 decibels for lo these many decades fighting the soviet empire *because* it's officially atheist -- as if all our captains of industry and banking were ardent religionists. Weird.
So what's important to them is being a Christian nation, plus showing the rest of the planet who is in charge. I think that explains a lot of what's going on now.
(I would define Communism, by the way, principally as an economic system, not as a government with dictatorial powers, but that's another can of worms and not I think salient here.)
I don't honestly think very many people understand what communism or socialism mean. I took a self test on line for the hell of it that called me a communist libertarian. When I was reading the descriptive I realized they had taken the definition for communism and interposed it to mean socialism. Oddly enough I actually fit the dichotomy of a socialist libertarian, whereas communist libertarian is just an outright contradiction with no hope for reconcilliation.
I actually sent a number of fundy, anti ACLU organizations (as well as a number of christian friends) a mass mailing asking them to join me in praying for God's support of the ACLU in the coming year. I also asked them to consider how much they support those who legitamately wish to express their christianity and how they support everyones right to worship God in the manner they believe right by keeping government and religious expression seperate. I got a number of interesting responses ranging from the commie variety to a few folks asking good questions. I am not certain I changed very many minds but I know I changed a couple, and garnered a little bit in the way of cash donations for local ACLU chapters.
btw, I meant to say interposed communism when they meant socailism. . .
As if to prove that Gribbit's burst of idiocy was only scratching the surface, one of his comrades has just posted this:
I think this passage from the author sums things up well:
"Whether or not ID should be considered science is mute in this debate since the class was philosphy...Learn to read."
ROFLOL, Ginger: "Was God feeling particularly whimsical that century?"