OK, I haven’t read past the first sentence in this story, and I have to back up and say, “Wait a minute!” The story A.C.L.U. Will Consider Disciplining 2 Officials begins,
“The American Civil Liberties Union, which since its inception has fought to protect free speech rights, is scheduled to begin a debate today over whether to discipline – or potentially move to oust – two board members for speaking to reporters.”
I am familiar with the First Amendment, which is the source of our “free speech rights” that the ACLU fights to protect. The First Amendment reads,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Now, there is a very big difference between the government, which the amendment prohibits from abridging the freedom of speech of its citizens, and anything any private organization does. The ACLU is not the government. In fact, the ACLU has fought to protect the rights of private organizations to do as they please.
This is not just a mistake — a misunderstanding of the distinction between a government and a private organization — this is an attack. The construction of this sentence declares that the ACLU is acting hypocritically by pretending to be an organization that protects rights while violating those very same rights of its Board members. The sentence might as well read, “ACLU says one thing but does another.” And, of course, such hypocrisy undermines the credibility of the organization in the mind of the reader.
It is a serious matter when a newspaper like the New York Times so forcefully attacks the credibility of an organization like the ACLU. The editors at the Times must have been aware of this when they approved this story. Yet the attack rests on a misuse of the term “freedom of speech” that any informed person would catch, along with a reversal of the positions that the ACLU has taken! Why did the Times do this? It is like I am reading the Moonie right-wing Washington Times!
I guess I’ll go read some blogs instead.