October 14, 2005

The ACLU

The ACLU is an organization whose existence seems to polarize people, you either love them or hate them. The middle ground is few and far between, which really is too bad because when you reach a point where life is black and white there are problems.

I am not a fan of every ACLU initiative, but I think that they serve a meaningful role and that there is a place and purpose for them. Society needs people to questions the leadership, to poke, prod and pick at the system and in general serve as another check/balance.

There is a group that feels very differently about the ACLU. They currently have a post up about an action that the ACLU has taken against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"Tampa, Florida -- If you've been to a Bucs game this season, you've seen and felt a difference -- you get patted down before entering the stadium.

But on Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union and a Bucs season ticket holder are taking the owners of Raymond James Stadium to court.

Gordon Johnston, a Bucs season ticket holder calls the searches a violation of his Constitutional rights. He also says the searches are ineffective, since they are only from the waist up.

Johnston and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Tampa Sports Authority. Johnston says he still will probably attend this weekend's game at the Ray Jay.

Meantime, the Sports Authority plans on continuing the searches, and points out they are mandated by the NFL."
I can understand and appreciate the concern here over the searches. We are at a point in time in which we have to make some decisions about civil liberties relative to actions taken for the public safety. But at the same time we need to temper our reactions on all sides and not just react.

The ACLU points out the following regarding the lawsuit:
"The ACLU said that long-established constitutional principles hold that individuals retain the right to move about on public streets and thoroughfares freely and without police intrusions and that, as a general matter, police officers may not search individuals on sidewalks and thoroughfares in the absence of individualized suspicion."
I am always concerned about precedents. Once you slide down the rabbit hole it is hard to know where you will end up. Good intentions do not always lead to good outcomes.

Above and beyond that I spent a few minutes looking at some of the other issues this anti-ACLU group has taken and noticed that there are very few positions that I can agree with. I'll have to blog later about their position on what they call the secularization of America. So sad to see that they are upset because some people want to follow the guidance and direction of the Constitution.

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21 comments:

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Like yourself, I am always concerned about precedent as well, which is why I have been keeping such a vigilent eye on the US Supreme Court.

michael said...

I remember this group in New York City complaining about the random bag and baby carriage searches in the subway system.

The London bombings had just happenned and New York City was reacting by posting groups of police officers randomly at subway entrances in order to check bags at random (i.e. every 10th bag). The group claimed it was a violation of the U.S. Constitution in terms of illegal search.

The media in New York City rightly pointed out that if something were to happen, and the bag searches were not occurring, this same group would be crying that the city wasn't doing enough!

Sure the bag searches were/are not very effective in some ways. But at least the NYPD and others were doing something!

-Ann said...

I had always avoided giving money to the ACLU because I couldn't agree with everything they did. Then September 11th happened and the government's reaction to it scared me enough to become a card-carrying ACLU member. Democracy and justice are messy, imprecise things. Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. It's nice to know there are people out there who are willing to get their hands dirty to ensure that the people in power are kept honest.

LiquiDiamonds said...

keeping people honest and national security are two different things. The Supreme Court is the ultimate trump card on honesty, not the ACLU.

I'm amazed at how anyone could take what the ACLU advocates are "protecting civil liberties". They have just become the big lefie bullies on the block.

Tell me - have YOUR civil rights been voilated recently?

Grace said...

Those searches are to provide a false sense of security at a time when fear is a strong political tool.


Invading my privacy will not prevent terror attacks, earthquakes, auto accidents, hurricanes, etc. Thank goodness for the ACLU, and god help us if our Judges aren't balanced, fair and representative of our nations people.

Grace said...

by representative i mean not extremists.

Ezzie said...

Sorry - I've been pretty disgusted by the ACLU's stance on most issues... and their claim of not being a political group is no longer true. They have become a mouthpiece for the left.

Regarding the Bucs games... there's a large difference between getting searched walking down the sidewalk and getting searched entering a stadium of 80,000 people. If the person does not like being searched, then he does not have to come. If he wants to come, and the stadium wants to search [especially in this case, where ALL are being searched], then he can't complain about it. It's a legitimate - and large - security risk.

In addition, imagine he wins: No longer can the stadium search people upon entering. What now becomes a large, easy target for terrorism? A filled to capacity stadium (let's say the Rose Bowl) with over 100,000 screaming fans - bomb itself can be small, and yet the panic that would ensue would result in hundreds - maybe thousands - of dead.

soccerdad said...

liquidiamonds ... have you been murdered lately? I guess since you haven't, you must not have a problem with murder.

I'll agree that there are times that the ACLU does things that I don't necessarily agree with, but I support totally what their objective is.

Jack's Shack said...

I think that there are several issues here that can be discussed. It is prudent and necessary to take steps to protect the public.

It is not unusual or uncommon at large gatherings (concerts, sporting events, etc) to have to go through metal detectors and other security measures.

It is reasonable to ask people to be accepting of certain steps and measures. It is also reasonable to ask to be told what is being done and why.

The reality is that times are different. There are people who wish to kill and scare us and they are not part of a gov't plot.

It boots nothing to constantly cry wolf and it helps no one to bring down an iron fist. Balance is critical.

Ezzie said...

Soccer Dad - what is it about the ACLU as it acts now that you do like?

Jack - Good points. The problem people have with the ACLU is their desire to go to the extremes on these issues: Nobody can ever be checked, because someone may feel their civil liberties are being trampled. Well, what about those of us who want to live? What about our civil liberties? Miriam over at Bloghead has some good examples of British laws designed not to offend people that offend pretty much everyone but the few they're designed to protect. It's an idea that's gone awry.

Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

I think lately they have been hanging out too much in FL! I am on the more dislike side...and that is putting it mildly. I agree with some questioning the leadership, but in my opinion they are out of control.

Tonight I heard that a county school board here in FL has teamed up with ACLU on doing away with all religious holidays except for Christmas. A show on FNC "In the Heartland" John the host expressed his view on why. Chances are the school board is caving in because they do not want to allow Muslin holidays to be honored.

I believe our country's founders intended for us to have Jewish and Christian values.

As far as searches, yes we live in a different world now...people I feel should be happy for the security measures.

soccerdad said...

Ezzie ... I wont, and can't, give you any specifics. Do I agree that they should be suing to in this particular instance? Probably not.

But, what I agree with is that the ACLU's purpose is to protect the civil rights/liberties of all by seeking to protect the civil rights/liberties of the unpopular minorities in this country. I'm a firm believer that the rights of the unpopular are just as important as those of the majority. Liquidiamonds asked if we've had any of our civil rights taken away. That's a very offensive way of looking at things. I haven't been pulled over because I'm black, because, well, I'm not black. But that doesn't make it right for people who are black to be pulled over simply because they are black.

Our civil rights may not be attacked at this moment, but we could be next, and if that happens, I'm sure you'll be screaming for somebody like the ACLU to help out.

Jack's Shack said...

Ezzie,

The search for balance is tough. Sometimes they screw up and miss the boat and sometimes they do not.

But it is critical that there be people who look at the actions of the gov't in all its forms and consider the ramifications of those actions.

I don't support everything that the ACLU does, but they provide an important and necessary service.

LiquiDiamonds said...

soccer dad: racial profiling is one thing. Having one's bag searched at a sporting even is quite another.

My problem with the ACLU is that they don't try to find a balannce - as Jack correctly put it - and work with anyone. They get their lawyers out, threaten schools, cities and whomever they please with legal action, and everyone backs down. A tyranical racket if you ask me.

I don't see how being murdered has anything to do with civil rights. You have to be clearer on that one with me. Rmember, I'm one of those toothelss right wing uneducated types that needs the ACLU and the left to tell me how to thing.

I travel quite a bit on business. I've been searched detained, and lots of other uncomfortable sitations. I still don't feel like my civil rights have been violated.

And you still haven't told me the last time YOUR civil rights were compromised...

Jack's Shack said...

It is always a question of precedent.

soccerdad said...

liquidiamonds ...

It seemed that your suggestion was that if nobody here has experienced a violation of their civil rights, what the ACLU is doing is much ado about nothing ... as though, if you haven't experienced something personally, it must not be happening anywhere in the world. So, I suggested that since you haven't been murdered recently, you must not have a problem with murder.

As I said, I can't defend everything that the ACLU does. The reality is that if everything the ACLU does was defensible there would be a problem. Their mission is to defend the unpopular ... ergo, they will be unpopular for doing so.

I'll say it again, regardless of whether you agree with the ACLU about everything, this country is a better place for what they do.

Jack's Shack said...

I have to agree that the ACLU makes the country better. They may not always do things that I agree with, but they are part of the checks and balances.

soccerdad said...

In today's paper, there were two stories in which the ACLU is involved. I wonder what you think of either one. First, a woman had her newborn son removed from her care because she is married to a man who was pled guilty to raping two teenage girls over twenty years ago. He served his sentence and there's no evidence, apparently, that he has committed any similar crime since his release. There is also no evidence that she is an unfit mother other than that she married a man with the described criminal past. The ACLU is involved because this is a perceived violation of her parental rights. I wonder, liquidiamonds, what you think. I'm not so sure what I think, but I tend to think that the guy served his sentence and without evidence of continued illegal behavior, he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

The second case is more clearcut, at least to me. A 20-year-old man was sentenced to 17 years in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old boy. If the 14-year-old had been a girl, he would only have been sentenced to 15 months. Yes, that's right, because it was homosexual sex, he sentenced to a much longer term. The ACLU got involved and the state Supreme Court has thrown out the law. Again, I wonder what you think? What would have happened if the ACLU wasn't around?

soccerdad said...

Oh, one more thing, I haven't answered your question, because it is irrelevant when the last time my civil rights were violated. That should have been obvious by now.

Jack's Shack said...

SD,

Was that the case in the Kansas?

soccerdad said...

I believe so.