The Skokie free speech battle of 1978 remains a defining moment in American life.
A neo-Nazi group, with the ACLU’s support, planned to march in the same Chicago suburb many Holocaust survivors called home.
The notoriety of the case caused some ACLU members to resign, but to many others the case has come to represent the ACLU’s unwavering commitment to principle.
It’s easy to defend speech we embrace. Defending bigoted views, even ones associated with the greatest horror of the 20th century? That’s another matter, but it’s covered under the First Amendment.
How times have changed.
The American Civil Liberties Union is too often silent on the modern free speech fight. Take comedian Gavin McInnes’ beef with Rutherford, New Jersey.
The extensively canceled McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016 but left the group two years later, is suing the city following the cancellation of a November comedy performance slated for the Williams Center.
The suit claims that the borough violated McInnes’ First Amendment rights … McInnes, who also co-founded Vice magazine, is accusing the Police Department of canceling the show, an action that was later “ratified” by the mayor and council, according to the suit.
The town’s police chief admitted to calling for the event’s cancellation due to potential violence. McInnes’s conservative stances have enraged groups like Antifa, which purport to fight fascism but often use violence against those who don’t share its radical Left views.
Hollywood in Toto reached out to the ACLU for comment on the McInnes suit, one seemingly close to its decades-long fight for free expression.
The FBI paid Twitter $3.41 million to censor speech! This is strong evidence of the government employing a private entity to censor. The case needs to get to SCOTUS! https://t.co/vtCVL1QWKu
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 22, 2022
The ACLU has more urgent matters to discuss, apparently.
A quick perusal of ACLU’s “news” ticker showcases a plethora of hard-left causes, from racial justice to so-called “gender-affirming care” for trans teens. The group supports open border-style policies, admitting trans women into existing women’s sports and more causes deemed progressive in our modern vernacular.
What’s missing from its news page beyond the McInnes suit? The Twitter Files.
A look at the organization’s Twitter feed over the past two weeks also shows no mention of the Twitter Files.
The ongoing series, sparked by journalists given access to material produced under the platform’s old, censorious regime, proves the shocking censorship happening on Twitter for years.
Scientists had their voices silenced for sharing views that conflicted with existing, and often dubious, pandemic rules. Government bodies coerced Team Twitter to suppress information they deemed problematic to their talking points.
Right-leaning voices got shadow-banned or canceled for the crime of sharing right-leaning views.
And the biggest news story of the 2020 presidential campaign, the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, got buried at the behest of government forces aligned against President Donald Trump.
The Twitter Files don’t get name-checked on the ACLU’s news page, alas. A Google search for “ACLU Twitter Files” comes up empty, too.
The group did support new Twitter owner Elon Musk’s decision to allow President Donald Trump back to the platform after a year-plus suspension under the old regime.
This reporter has reached out to the ACLU’s press team in the past on a separate free speech issue and similarly failed to get a response.
Even the New York Times noticed the group’s course correction via a 2021 investigation.
An organization that has defended the First Amendment rights of Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan is split by an internal debate over whether supporting progressive causes is more important.
The answer is becoming more clear every day.
Ironically, the ACLU trumpets its role in the Skokie matter via its Web site. In 40 years, the organization may look back at this time and wonder why it went silent when it mattered most.