Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I love the way the Right tells tales about the ACLU without doing even the most rudimentary fact-checking. Here's the opening of Dennis Prager's latest column:

Not a week goes by that some part of the Left does not hurt America. But in the past two weeks, three examples stood out for the degree of such harm.

The first example involved the ACLU, which has threatened Southwest Airlines with a lawsuit. Southwest ordered a passenger off a flight after she refused to cover her T-shirt on which was printed an expletive -- "Fu--ers" -- referring to President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The ACLU position is not surprising....

So what is "the ACLU position"? Did the ACLU really threaten a lawsuit? Here's what AP's story on the incident says:

...Southwest rules allow the airline to deny boarding to any passenger whose clothing is "lewd, obscene or patently offensive."

Allen Lichtenstein, lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union in Las Vegas, said Heasley's T-shirt is "protected" political speech under the Constitution.

The real issue is that the airline allowed her to wear the shirt onboard and then objected only when passengers complained, he said.

"That they changed rules in the middle of a flight simply because someone didn't like it ... might be problematic," Lichtenstein said....

Heasley says she has been in touch with ACLU lawyers in Seattle, and wants Southwest to reimburse her for the last leg of her trip.

"Might be problematic" -- wow, that's some dogmatic, absolutist position. A person who didn't realize that ACLU lawyers are demons incarnate might think that Lichtenstein actually accepts the notion that Southwest, as a private corporation, has a right to set ground rules for its customers, and merely wonders whether Southwest engaged in an ad hoc tweak of its own stated policies, allowing her to wear her shirt on the flight and then saying she wasn't allowed to wear it on board after all.

As for the threat of a lawsuit, the story says that Lorrie Heasley "has been in touch with ACLU lawyers." In addition, AP's reporter has been in touch with an ACLU lawyer in Vegas. That's all I can find.

Here are the Web sites for the national ACLU, and the ACLU chapters in Nevada and Washington State. Not a word about this case.

Of course, this is a column in which Prager goes on to write about a court decision requiring the release of Abu Ghraib torture photos (an issue the ACLU does actually care about). Prager's gloss:

Indeed, for the ACLU, release of the photos is a victory precisely because it does weaken American ability to fight Islamic terrorists.

I love that word "weaken." Sounds awfully familiar....

Political freedom is an idea but not a fact. This idea one must know how to apply whenever it appears necessary with this bait of an idea to attract the masses of the people to one's party for the purpose of crushing another who is in authority. This task is rendered easier if the opponent has himself been infected with the idea of freedom, SO-CALLED LIBERALISM, and, for the sake of an idea, is willing to yield some of his power. It is precisely here that the triumph of our theory appears; the slackened reins of government are immediately, by the law of life, caught up and gathered together by a new hand, because the blind might of the nation cannot for one single day exist without guidance, and the new authority merely fits into the place of the old already weakened by liberalism.

--Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 1:6


UPDATE: Perhaps I'm going a bit overboard by comparing anti-ACLU rants to anti-Semitic propaganda of the past. But you can compare this illustration and this one and draw your own conclusions. (Source, source.)

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