Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ACLU Dissident

[posted by Callimachus]

Wendy Kaminer, ACLU dissident, in an interview on the importance of academic free speech:

"You know, in our world today, one way you can stop people from coming to blows about their conflicting ideas is by teaching them how to argue, and teaching them not to be afraid of argument. There’s an important difference between being embarrassed or feeling intellectually or emotionally wounded because you’re at the losing end of an argument, and actually being physically assaulted. I think it’s incredibly important for students to learn how to argue, and to learn how to appreciate and even enjoy argument."

Rnjoy it -- exactly! The fact that universities -- of all places -- are eagerly proscribing free speech in the name of sensitivity is an admission of the failure of the overall education system in this country to really educate young people. And, of course, of the infantile strain in our national culture that values feeling over thought. Which we'll probably never shake because it's engrained in America.

Here's Kaminer on the ACLU:

The ACLU is not simply attacking dissent internally. It has become a less reliable defender of controversial public speech and freedom of the press. For instance, when the State Department condemned the publication of the controversial Muhammad cartoons last year, and publications in the U.S. declined to publish them, the ACLU was virtually silent. In fact, talking points issued by the press office addressing torture at Abu Ghraib while the cartoon controversy was raging advised against discussing the cartoons. Instead, they recommended ducking questions that arose about the cartoons by exhorting the U.S. government to "take the Abu Ghraib images seriously." This was predictably defended as an effort to "stay on message."

The ACLU also had little to say about the jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller during the investigation of the Valerie Plame leak. We "were not very out front on commenting" on the Miller case, talking points from the press office observe, attributing the ACLU's silence to the presence of "many eloquent advocates in this case."

Civil libertarians accustomed to viewing the ACLU as the leading "eloquent advocate" for a free press and free speech should be prepared for more moments of silence.