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Why I Love the ACLU in Spite of its Warts — With Hugs and Kisses to the NRA

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Principles are easy to maintain when we feel safe and secure, but they mean nothing when we cast them aside the moment some aspect of them makes us uncomfortable.

The American Civil Liberties Union is often misunderstood because of the odd bedfellows it has kept. When some people learn how the ACLU has stood up for the rights of NAMBLA and Neo-Nazis, they just don’t get it. How could an organization that claims to be “our nation’s guardian of liberty” champion such horrible people? Why should anyone even care about the civil rights of pedophiles and hatemongers? Should people like that even be entitled to civil rights?

The ACLU and our “1st Freedom

Some people criticize the ACLU’s neutral stance with regard to our Second Amendment. They say that since the ACLU aims to conserve America’s original civic values, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the organization should protect and defend all of them.

While that position is somewhat difficult to defend in principle, it makes sense in actual practice, because there exists a rather large and powerful group devoted to the protection and defense of our Second Amendment rights. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and its lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) are “committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.”

Since the NRA, whose membership of 4 million is 10 times larger than the ACLU’s, exclusively defends our right to keep and bear arms, there is no need for the ACLU to take on that fight too. That there could be a tacit agreement between those two organizations is not beyond the pale of reasonable speculation — not only within the realm of the loathsome practice of partisanship, but as a matter of pragmatism as well.

I am a card-carrying member of both the ACLU and the NRA.

When the ACLU takes on unpopular and controversial causes, the limits of our American principles are tested. Some people simply do not have the stomach for those tests because they are, quite understandably, afraid of the possible negative effects that “too much” freedom — as if there is such a thing — might have upon the bestial side of our (and perhaps their own) human nature.

But America is called the “land of the free and the home of the brave” because living in freedom requires an awesome amount of courage. We must have the fortitude to resist any temptation to curtail civil liberties, because freedom, by its very definition, can not be limited arbitrarily or rationalized away for the purpose of expediency or convenience.

Much to the consternation of civil authoritarians, the ACLU has, on many occasions, successfully argued that even the most vile and disgusting barely-human beings are entitled to due process and equal protection under the law, and that our First Amendment protects all speech1 — not just popular speech.

The recognition of NAMBLA’s and the Neo-Nazis’ rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly is a crucial test precisely because their respective messages are so repulsive. If the rights of the likes of NAMBLA and the Neo-Nazis can be secured, recognized, guaranteed and protected, then we can rest assured that the forces of tyranny and oppression have been kept in check.

However, we must never falter when it comes to the protection and defense of our civil liberties, even when they are perceived as getting in the way of fighting our worst fears. No exceptions can be made when it comes to our civil and human rights because the only crimes to which a “zero tolerance” policy can be rationally and logically applied are tyranny and oppression.

There can be no prisoners taken in the fight against tyranny and oppression, for they are the most heinous crimes of all, often committed by perpetrators whose reactionary intentions seem benevolent, noble and even necessary for the common good. Well-intentioned tyrants and oppressors play upon our worst fears and tempt us with a false sense of security that will supposedly protect us from the specter of lesser crimes.

The fights against child molestation and bigotry are indeed noble causes, but we must never forget that freedom is noblest cause of all. Sacrifices must be made for the cause of freedom, and the most important sacrifice we make toward that cause is the lack of personal comfort that appears to come from the false sense of security that tyranny provides for the cowardly.

The ACLU is on the cutting edge of testing the limits of our Constitution and Bill of Rights and discovering that there really aren’t many left. In the wake of the historic recognitions of our rights to privacy2, the expansion of freedom, as it was laid out by our Founders a little over two centuries ago, is becoming more important than quelling the anxieties of vainglorious cowards who are quite willing to sacrifice freedom for all of us just to fill their own selfish need for solace.

1 Except for the sort of speech that causes civil unrest that could lead to injury, such as the ubiquitous example of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.
2 Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Roe v. Wade (1973), Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

Edited: nd

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About Margaret Romao Toigo

  • Alethinos

    Good post!


  • Bennett

    Fantastic Margaret! It’s good to see you weighing in once again, with eloquence and sanity, on the issues of the day.


  • Anthony Grande

    “Some people simply do not have the stomach for those tests because they are, quite understandably, afraid of the possible negative effects that “too much” freedom”

    No, what I can’t stomach is the lack of freedom. When the ACLU says that I can’t put too many American flags in my yard, when they say that the cross that I have loved be since a was five to be taken down from the hill, when they say that the cops don’t have the right to arrest a know gang member and other things they are taken away certain freedoms and liberties.

    As for pedophile, they should have ANY rights protected because they should be in jail for life. Why should we live amongst the people that will most likely harm us?

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Thank you, Alethinos and Bennett, it is good to be back.

    What specific freedom do you lack, Mr. Grande? And since when does the ACLU make our laws?

    FWIW, however, I do agree that child molesters should, upon conviction via due process, be locked away for life as their sickness is incurable.

  • Anthony Grande

    “FWIW, however, I do agree that child molesters should, upon conviction via due process, be locked away for life as their sickness is incurable.”

    Then why do you support the ACLU making it so it’s hard to find out who the pedophiles are and allowing them to live where they want (schools and such)?

    “What specific freedom do you lack, Mr. Grande?”

    Well, they are trying to make it so I can’t where my cross to school, I can’t say UNDER GOD in the pledge, I can’t put more than 5 U.S. flags on my front lawn or house, I can’t put a cross or any religious statues on my front lawn or house, I can’t view a cross on a hilltop (one was removed from behind my house), my city (even if it is named “The Crosses”) can’t have a cross on the seal, I can’t sleep at night knowing I am safe because the ACLU has made it extremely tough for cops and other law enforcement to arrest known gangmembers and they are a many other reasons why the ACLU should wither and die.

    “And since when does the ACLU make our laws?”

    No, but they are a big influence in law making.

  • Victor Plenty

    Interesting that no right-wingers have spoken up to commend you for your support of the NRA. Or for that matter, spoken up to praise your excellent vindication of the ACLU. You’ve shown why any real conservative movement, truly friendly to freedom and hostile to tyranny in all its forms, would consider the ACLU a valued ally.

    Sadly, what passes for a “conservative” movement in America today has no interest in real freedom. Instead it spends most of its energy whipping up the fears and paranoia of its rank-and-file supporters until they can’t even tell when they are ranting wildly and have failed to back up a single one of their claims with any verifiable facts. Like our Mr. Grande here, for example.

    What such people fail to realize (and their dishonest leaders hope they never learn) is that universal human rights are not truly universal unless everyone has them — even very bad people. And if human rights are anything less than universal, then nobody really has them.

    If your freedom of speech depends on being popular, it is only an illusion of freedom. Today you might have it, and next week you could lose it when the winds of public opinion shift against you.

    This is why a free society must extend the same freedom to scum like the neo-nazis (so long as they remain law-abiding scum). Not because they have anything to say that is worth listening to, but because if they’re not free to voice their views, then the rest of us are not truly free either.

  • ryan

    If the ACLU actually cared about our rights, why arnt they upset about the San Fran gun law?

  • Victor Plenty

    Maybe because the San Fran gun law won’t ever hold up in court, so it’s a non-issue to everyone except those who are trying to make your irrational fears triumph over your critical thinking skills, Ryan.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Since the ACLU seems to be doing such a fantastic job defending the rights of pedophiles and neo-Nazis, maybe they can involve themselves in restoring academic freedom in your country – particularly in state funded schools where the denial of academic freedom there can be construed as “state action”.

    If the right to speak freely on the campuses of your country were restored and the spirit of open academic inquiry that once prevailed there before the “new left” destroyed it were restored – maybe, JUST MAYBE, the monkeys who run the universities here in Israel will imitate you.

    They seem to like all the crap your country puts out. Who knows? They might go for quality too.

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Mr. Grande, complaints about how our Constitution makes it too hard for the police to catch criminals are often heard coming from lazy and/or incompetent investigators.

    Such assertions are an insult to the many law enforcement officers who are thorough and attentive in performing their duties.

    Don’t let the fear mongers impose tyranny just because a few people working in law enforcement would rather subvert the Constitution than do their jobs properly.

  • Victor Plenty

    Rumors of the death of academic freedom have been greatly exaggerated. Many people make the claim, in broad general terms, that free academic inquiry has been “destroyed” by the grim specter of political correctness. Few ever have any specific examples to cite.

    The subject does provide many fine opportunities for vague complaining, though. I have to admit that.

    Can you suggest any specific cases the ACLU ought to be pursuing in this area, Ruvy? If so, why not tell the organization about them directly?

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Mr. Grande, Have you been forbidden to wear your cross to school or is that case still pending?

    I don’t know about how many US flags people are allowed to put on their lawns and houses, but that sounds like a zoning ordinance that is intended to protect the rights of nearby homeowners who might view such a garish display (more than one US flag on your property would be tacky, not to mention jingoistic) as detrimental to their property values.

    If you are not allowed to place a cross or any religious statues on your front lawn or house, you should perhaps consider moving to a neighborhood without so many deed restrictions.

    What are the details involved with regard to the hilltop cross that was removed? Was it removed after the ACLU won some court case or was it taken down for some other reason?

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    The case of the crosses on the Las Cruces city emblem is still pending and the ACLU is likely to lose that case because of the name of the town.

    The ACLU is no more of an influence upon lawmaking than any other similar organization (the NRA is far more powerful).

    But the authoritarian fear mongers who wish to demonize the ACLU have apparently influenced you and others in a big way, playing upon your fears to the point where you don’t even feel the need to question their transparent propaganda.

    Living in freedom requires a lot of courage. Cowards prefer tyranny.

  • Anthony Grande

    Comment 10, Margaret, you are obviously unfamiliar with this certain incident that I am referring to.

    This was a couple years ago in a town in California (I forget, but believe it was San Jose area). There was a big problem with gang members in this area and the crime rate was tremendous and walking through the area was dangerous.

    So what the police started doing was arresting known gang members, search them for weapons and drugs, question them and if nothing was found, let them go.

    This area really started to clear up and crime was WAY down and the city became more safe and the people were so happy. Then the ACLU got involved.

    They called what the police were doing “illegal search and seizure”. So the police had to stop what they were doing and the city went back to the way it was with the high murder and crime rate and the dangerous streets while all the cops could do was watch the known gang members flash their colors and signs.

    I personally believe that someone in a known criminal gang and is seen wearing colors then the police have the right to search them. It the cops don’t find nothing then they let them go. What is wrong with this?

    And for anyone who believes that I am making this up here:
    yeah yeah I know, this is
    I am quite embarrased that I couldn’t find a nonbiased website.

    Now, would someone tell me what good has the ACLU done in the last 10 years?

  • Victor Plenty

    We could prevent all crime if we just arrest everyone and put them all in solitary confinement. Bam! Crime wiped out in one swell foop.

    Too bad the wimpy wusses in the ACLU won’t let the police carry out such an obviously right solution.

    Seriously, Anthony, do you even read your own ranting anymore? Don’t you realize how nutty your opinions sound? Why not try educating yourself for a change? Learn what our Constitution actually says, and that might cure your magical thinking that everything would be okay if we just removed all limits on police powers.

  • Anthony Grande

    Hey Victor, do you know how nutty is sounds to make it so a cop can’t bring in a known gang member and search him then let him go?

    The Fourth Amendment: SEARCHES AND SEIZURES

    “Unreasonable searches are forbidden.”

    Searching a known gang member for being a KNOWN gang member is not “unreasonable”.

    I grew up near a big gang infested area and I known actual gang members and I know for a fact to be in an gang you will have to carry out an illegal act like stealing a car, robing a liquor store, home invasion, dry by, ect.

    Then if one wants to be accepted and respected among their fellow gang members they have to keep going outside the law and can’t be afraid to pull the trigger.

    So don’t tell me that we can’t “assume” that a GANG MEMBER is a criminal because in the initiation along they have to commit a crime and to keep respect they can’t show weakness and have to kill or go outside the law.

    There is your constitution and I have proven that what the cops were doing is constitutional. So sit on that.

  • Victor Plenty

    You prove only your own ignorance, Anthony. Again.

    By the very same “logic” you use, I could also “prove” that it’s reasonable for the police to detain and search all known Christians, or anyone wearing Christian symbols. After all, it’s well known that fundamentalist Christian terrorists have bombed medical clinics and murdered doctors who didn’t share their extremist beliefs. For everyone’s safety, the police should have the power to arrest any Christian they see.

    If the police find a particular Christian isn’t carrying a bomb or a gun, they can always let him go.

    Being a Christian yourself, Anthony, you might object to this plan. But if you do object to being arrested and searched at random, what you really should ask yourself is why you hate America.

  • Anthony Grande

    Now you are proving your ignorance.

    Sure, there are a few Christian/Muslim/Jewish terrorists out there but 99.9999999% or Christians, Muslims and Jews are NOT terrorists.

    To be a gang member means that commiting crimes is your day to day job. They break the law. So 100% or gang members break the law.

    It is not “unreasonble” to search a person who breaks the law for a living or as a lifestyle.

  • Victor Plenty

    Reason and logic disagree with you, Anthony. It is in fact unreasonable and unconstitutional to arrest and search people just because you think it’s their “lifestyle” to commit crimes. In reality, despite your loud claims, you don’t really know this is a fact. You only think you know.

    Arresting people for wearing a particular color of cloth, or for being seen with a particular person, or for any other act that isn’t against the law, is a step toward the kind of police state where the government would have the power to arrest all Christians if it wanted to, and nobody could ever say a word against it without fear of also being arrested.

    If the police can arrest anyone they think is a bad person, what’s to stop them from deciding you are a bad person? The answer is nothing. Nothing would stop them.

    If that’s the kind of system you want to live under, then by all means continue your efforts to destroy the ACLU.

  • Anthony Grande

    “If the police can arrest anyone they think is a bad person, what’s to stop them from deciding you are a bad person?”

    Well I don’t have anything to hide so they will let me go after searching.

    This system you are mentioning cannot happen because it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL for “unreasonable” search and seizure.

    Police and the FBI have lists of who is who and is in what gang. They know the usual faces and they know who the gang members are.

    Most likely if you are on the lists and are stopped walking on the street you will most likely be carrying a gun, knife or some kind of drug accessory.

    Gangs are a big problem here. And if you live in California, like I do, you will realize the truth of this statement.

    Gangs are a drain on society. Anyone cops have reason to believe is in a gang should be detained and searched for illegal material. And if the cops or FBI believe that I am in a gang then bring it on, search me. I got nothing to hide.

    “If that’s the kind of system you want to live under, then by all means continue your efforts to destroy the ACLU.”

    By your own logic, what the ACLU is doing against religion will lead to a state where religion is not allowed. Is this the system you want to live under?

  • Victor Plenty

    The ACLU works to protect freedom of religion, Anthony. The hypothetical examples of police arresting Christians were extensions of YOUR logic. They are NOT examples of anything I would ever want to happen, nor are they examples of anything the ACLU has ever supported. You would know this if you had any interest in the truth.

    In reality, the ACLU actively fights for the rights of religious believers to express their beliefs without government interference (and also without government support).

    You are the one who wants a system where anyone’s freedom can be taken away at a moment’s notice with no substantial cause, merely because they look suspicious or are seen with people who look suspicious.

  • Victor Plenty

    Oh, and here are just a few examples of good things the ACLU has done recently to protect freedom of religious expression.

    I really shouldn’t be doing your homework for you like this, Anthony, but you seem kind of helpless by yourself.

    You’re welcome.

  • Alethinos

    Damn Victor! Do you EVER sleep? Good posts. Mr. G., of COURSE the ACLU takes on some rather unpopular and I think silly stances – and I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. I let them know when I think they’ve gone overboard too – as a member of any group should do… But as Victor has so ably done here – the work they do for the good FAR outweighs the times they go too far.

    Your example about the police and the gangs… You need to really try and broaden your outlook here.

    Of course what the police were doing was “temporarily” a good thing. And I’ve no doubt they were doing it with the best of intentions. What the ACLU was concerned about was NOT protecting the rightful prosecution of gang members or the protection of citizens in the area – what the ACLU was doing was protecting the FUTURE.

    Often times people just don’t get this about the ACLU. They don’t like the bad guys any more than you do. But the WAY that the police (for example) are GOING ABOUT dealing with the bad guys sets a very bad PRECEDENT. In the FUTURE this precedent COULD be used to violate YOUR rights and mine – if left UNCHECKED. You see – this is how our particular judicial system works – on PRECEDENT. We aren’t like the French who don’t do it this way…

    Can you see this Mr. G? Can you wrap your mind around this now?


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Victor, you asked, and here is an answer, pulled from a comment on a different article.

    “Jews on campuses across North America are nervous about showing themselves as Jews ore showing “too much” pride in being Jewish. “New left” profs on campuses, often ‘Jews’ themselves, will flunk kids who showe support for Israel in class or on papers. Then there are the Palestine Days and the eforts to prevent Jewish organizations to do anything to show Jewish pride on campus – often violent intimidation by Arabs and their running dogs. This is stuff I get in my inbox all the time.”

    This deals with Jews alone, but the point is that their civil liberties in the States are being violated. There is also the issue of professors who do not toe the “new left” line at universities being booted out or denied tenure. I know of one case myself.

    Bear in mind that given that the ACLU is a single issue organization, devoted to protecting people from state action as it impacts on the first amendment, it would only be able to act where federal funding is used to somehow subsidize university programs – just about every school in the country, in other words.

  • Michael J. West

    The comment thread on this post is, all too predictably, contentious and frustrating to read. (With apologies to all commenters…I just can’t bring myself to get involved in this argument today. Too dicey for my Monday morning.)

    However, Margaret, I want very much to tell you what a beautiful, eloquent, and well thought out piece this is. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Mr. Grande, I too, am very concerned about the violence and corruption that gangsterism has caused our society.

    That is why I try to stay active in the fight to end the “war on drugs” — which I like to call, Prohibition II, the glitzier sequel with a much bigger budget and a far higher body count.

    This anachronistic and ineffective policy of drug interdiction that masquerades as a solution to itself supports the black market, which provides the most fertile breeding ground for gangsterism.

    The choice, of course, is yours, Mr. Grande. You can take a pragmatic approach to addressing these concerns or you can continue to spread the kind of propaganda and misinformation that fosters the sort of tyranny and oppression that is more advantageous to the criminal element than it is to the law-abiding citizenry.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “That is why I try to stay active in the fight to end the “war on drugs” — which I like to call, Prohibition II, the glitzier sequel with a much bigger budget and a far higher body count.”

    Very eloquently put, Margaret. May I suggest an alternative that may not have occurred? May I suggest that American culture, by emphasizing the things it does, instant gratification, selfishness, and the like spurs a market for drugs because drugs offer just that – instant gratification.

    A war on drugs may in fact be a cultural war to push an end to viewing sex as merely a means to pleasure and self-indulgence, an end to viewing things as more important than people. A “war on drugs” may wind up being a far more encompassing effort than you imagine – going far beyond whether this or that drug is legal or not.

    It may go far beyond issues that one normally associates with law, security and order.

  • Alethinos

    Ruvy, you cannot legislate morality… The trouble is that most the major religions have long since run out of spiritual steam. And like a body dying the blood pressure increases – in this case religious fundamentalists who’ screams become louder as the ability to attract and hold congregations decreases. What we are seeing with the “super” Churches w/r to Christianity is, as often as not, a simple desire for COMMUNITY.

    You’re analysis of American culture IS on target in most instances though. However, the answer is not to whip the population into line. This decline in the spiritual vitality of Christianity and now Islam has been in process for centuries. A new path is needed.

    How and where that is remains to be seen.


  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Ruvy in Jerusalem writes, “American culture, by emphasizing the things it does, instant gratification, selfishness, and the like spurs a market for drugs because drugs offer just that – instant gratification.”

    Indeed, that is true. I believe that this dynamic also accounts for obesity, indebtedness and knee-jerk legislation that imposes tyranny as a simple and convenient solution to complex problems.

    I do not usually discuss the demand side of the drug issue in connection with the “war on drugs” because the vast majority of the drugs that people use for gratification are sold in pharmacies and supermarkets, not street corners.

    The “war on drugs” is a fight against the supply side, an underground enterprise worth over $100 billion per year in the US alone. It really has very little to do with culture as it is an issue of economics.

    The social problem of drug abuse/addiction is merely a political selling point intended to confuse the underlying threat of economic upheaval that would occur if the “war on drugs” suddenly ended in the same fashion as Prohibition (1920-1933).

    The “war on drugs” is an example of the most pernicious manifestation of tyranny, social engineering imposed upon us “for our own good.”

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Prohibition was an attempt to legislate morality. Anyone who knows American history knows just what a success it was, too. The WCTU attacked the product without even looking at the culture which produced the drinking.

    Present prohibitions on drug use go hand in hand with mixed messages from advertisers to use and to desire drugs – not to mention subsidies to tobacco growers. So, naturally, it is as failure.

    Like I said, I’m looking far beyond this into the culture. There are elements in your culture that promote drug use that need to be curbed. It can be done, if looked at carefully and shrewdly enough.

  • Alethinos

    I totally agree Ruv… Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear a gin and tonic calling me…


  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Indeed, there are elements in American culture that promote drug use, not the least of which is the lack of unbiased information with regard to regulated and unregulated inebriants.

    However, the suggestion that these elements need to be somehow “curbed” begs the question, “how can that be done without imposing tyranny, which is far more damaging to society than mere cultural decadence?”

  • Dave Nalle

    interesting that no right-wingers have spoken up to commend you for your support of the NRA. Or for that matter, spoken up to praise your excellent vindication of the ACLU. You’ve shown why any real conservative movement, truly friendly to freedom and hostile to tyranny in all its forms, would consider the ACLU a valued ally.

    Sorry, hadn’t noticed the thread. Good job on both counts. The ACLU has a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

    Sadly, what passes for a “conservative” movement in America today has no interest in real freedom. Instead it spends most of its energy whipping up the fears and paranoia of its rank-and-file supporters until they can’t even tell when they are ranting wildly and have failed to back up a single one of their claims with any verifiable facts. Like our Mr. Grande here, for example.

    Or perhaps you’ve accepted these people at their word that their conservatives, when in fact they’re just backwards thinking reactionaries. There are still some real conservatives and they’re locked in a battle to try to keep people like Anthony from being mistaken for their spokesmen.

    What such people fail to realize (and their dishonest leaders hope they never learn) is that universal human rights are not truly universal unless everyone has them — even very bad people. And if human rights are anything less than universal, then nobody really has them.

    I’m happy to hear about your support for the Iraqi people and our efforts to bring them freedom and human rights.

    If your freedom of speech depends on being popular, it is only an illusion of freedom. Today you might have it, and next week you could lose it when the winds of public opinion shift against you.

    So true. But then what is your opinion of the ongoing efforts of the left in America to curtail freedom of speech and define what forms of speech are ‘acceptable’?


  • Anthony Grande

    O.k. Victor, you give me to prove that the ACLU is good and I give you this to prove that the ACLU needs to wither and die.

  • Anthony Grande

    And if those things that your site listed are true than here something that proves that the ACLU are a bunch of hypocrits

  • Anthony Grande

    And here is another one that I found interesting

  • Anthony Grande

    The ACLU needs to wither and die or get on the ball and stop using its energy to remove religion from out hills, coins, schools and seals and put it to fighting for parental notification for abortion, fair union dues, stopping illegal immigration, fighting terrorism, fighting drug abuse, redistricting in areas that need it, ending capital punishment and many other things that America needs.

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Don’t you recognize political propaganda when you read it, Mr. Grande? There is no vast conspiracy to remove religion from the public square any more than there is some vast conspiracy to make America into a Christian theocracy.

    The people who promote that sort of nonsense are reactionary authoritarian theocrats whose only agenda is to engage in a phony “culture war” with authoritarian socialists whose propaganda alerts us to the specter of Christian theocracy.

    The Truth About God in Public Schools

    How The Secular Humanist Grinch Didn’t Steal Christmas

  • Anthony Grande

    Ms. Ramao Toigo (Is that Portuguese?), if they are not trying to remove Christianity from the public then why did they force the removal of a cross that overlooks the freeway near my house?

    Why are they trying to end prayers before football games?

    Why are they trying to ban the word “Christmas” from our schools?

    How come I can’t say merry Christmas to my teacher or anyone at school?

    How come only a Muslim can wear a head garment at school?

    And why in the world are they trying to remove the cross from the city seal of Las CRUSAS (what does Crusas mean in Portuguese?)

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Mr. Grande, did you read those two articles I posted in comment #38?

    The threat of a ban on Christmas has been greatly overrepresented since the late 1950s when department stores began using the generic greeting, “Happy Holidays” (or “Season’s Greetings”) instead of “Merry Christmas.”

    That change was a business decision made by companies that did not wish to offend their Jewish customers. The use of “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is a product of capitalism, not any sort of “culture war.”

    The ACLU has been working toward a more inclusive society in which no religion is given preference over others. Admittedly, the ACLU has pushed the outside of the envelope, but in those cases in which they pushed too hard, they lost.

    For most of our nation’s brief history, Christianity was treated as if it was our unofficial state religion. That has changed over the last 50 years or so as we have come to realize the value of diversity and the error of our previous ways.

    Because we are still experiencing the backlash and fallout from the many strides toward greater religious freedom in America, some people are overcompensating, mistakenly believing that being inclusive of non-Christian faiths must entail the banishment of Christian references.

    The prevalence of this “trying too hard to be all-inclusive” dynamic depends upon locality. Some communities have experienced more than their fair share of controversy while others have somehow managed to please most everyone.

    What you have here, Mr. Grande, is a conspiracy theory (some might call it a paranoid hypothesis) that works wonders toward getting a certain politically advantageous group of people whipped up into a frenzy and voting for candidates who know how to exploit fear, apathy and ignorance.

    You appear to be a somewhat smart fellow, how can you possibly take any of it seriously?

    Romao, which is my maiden name, is Portuguese. Toigo is Italian.

  • Anthony Grande

    Ms. Romao Toigo, I understand and am OK with the businesses going from the “Merry Christmans” to “Happy Holidays” to get a more diversified market because our country is becomming more diverse in reiligious terms.

    There are times when the ACLU wins and loses. We still have “under God” in the pledge but the term “Christmas” is gone from public schools. The cross that overlooks my town has been removed. Las Crusas still has its seal. Football players still pray before a game.

    But just because the ACLU loses in certain circumstances doesn’t mean it is OK to forget and pretend not to notice what they are trying to do.

    P.S. Portuguese and Italian is a good combination.

  • Alethinos

    Oh good GOD man! Yes, you Tony G! Do you examine ANYTHING before you type it? Do you read anything other than the church newsletter, Heathens Must Die?

    “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance as (I thought) everyone knew by now was injected into the Pledge in the EARLY 50’s at the insistance of conservative, commie-sniffin’politicians who’s thinking was only limited by their lack of intelligence. You see they thought that if they added “God” in the Pledge communists, who in their minds were akin to vampires or demons, would be UNABLE to SPEAK the word GOD without bursting into flames… I guess it never crossed their minds that ATHEISTS tend to say God more than most church goers sence they’re always ranting about God being all over the place…

    Really, I am begging you – STOP getting your “NEWS” and “FACTS” from such obviously biased sources.


  • Victor Plenty

    Nobody will be stopped from saying “under God” in the Pledge if they really want to.

    Even if the ACLU fully wins every case related to the subject, all it will mean is that nobody will need to fear being punished if they choose to recite the Pledge in its original form, without the clumsy addition of “under God” in a conspicuously inappropriate place.

    What people like the ACLU are trying to establish is not a system where all religious expression is banned, but a system where religious expression is always voluntary and never compelled by government power.

  • Victor Plenty

    ACLU actions to defend religious freedom can be verified in many places, not only on their own web site. For example, one of the cases on the list which Anthony clearly never bothered to read involved a New Mexico street preacher who was arrested and jailed by police, but later freed with assistance from the ACLU.

    The incident occurred in the city of Portales, New Mexico. The local newspaper, the Portales News-Tribune, reported on the ACLU’s role in restoring the street preacher’s freedom to express his religious beliefs.

    But wait! you might say. Isn’t that a mainstream media outlet and don’t those all have a liberal bias? Well, peruse the admission by avowed conservative blogger Mark A. Rose that the ACLU had done a good thing in favor of religious freedom.

    I am quite certain every story on the list I linked in comment 22, every action the ACLU has taken to defend religious liberty, can be similarly verified. Can the same be said for the wild-eyed accusations people have made against the ACLU?

  • Victor Plenty

    So I checked into the links Anthony provided above. The first, claiming to provide “facts” about the ACLU, contains no easily verifiable references, and cannot be considered a reliable source of information.

    Likewise, the second appears to provide some references for its claims, but the links it provides for those supposed news stories open up to a commercial subscription wire service, where I can’t verify the source material without having to pay.

    The third is merely a long screed of incoherent ranting which never even attempts to provide any verifiable evidence for its claims.

    Care to try again, Anthony?

  • Anthony Grande

    Alethinos, I think everyone knows that it was added in the 50s but McCarthy and his crew but what difference does that make?

    This is truly ONE NATION UNDER GOD. And you say that no one will be stopped from saying “under God” anyway? Yeah, if you don’t mind being off key from the rest of us. It is much easier for someone to remain silent during that two seconds than for someone to add something for two seconds and then be off key.

    What I am saying is that we have more important issues than banning God from schools and city seals like homelessness, drug abuse, capital punishment, prostitution, child molestation and so on.

    Victor, I am glad that they got a preacher out of jail but what does it prove? It only proves that the ACLU has either changed since then or that they are hypocritical. Or maybe the ACLU thinks it is a negative symbol for religion to have a raggedy old preacher annoying people on the streets.

    How does releasing a street preacher from jail help solve our nation’s real problems?

  • Victor Plenty

    What it proves, Anthony, is you’ve been lied to about the ACLU’s real goals and motives. It is NOT an organization that seeks to destroy religious freedom. In fact it seeks the exact opposite: to protect religious freedom by separating religious expression from government power.

    Freeing the street preacher is consistent with their core principle that the government should neither promote nor suppress any person’s expression of their faith.

    Like every other sucker before you, Anthony, you have swallowed the lies you’ve been fed, and you are following leaders who do not have your best interests at heart.

    The ACLU helped free the preacher because his wife asked for their help, and because letting the government take away one person’s religious liberty is a threat to every person’s religious liberty. Whether they agreed with his religion or not is entirely irrelevant. They upheld his right to express his faith without government interference.

    They have done the same thing for many other people in many other cases. This is a simple fact. You could demonstrate some honesty and integrity by admitting this.

    Your argument that the ACLU had “changed since then” is embarrassingly weak, Anthony. It shows you never bothered to read the article. If you had, you would know the street preacher was arrested THIS YEAR, and the ACLU’s involvement in the court case happened less than four months ago. You really expect any intelligent person to believe such a large organization has completely changed its goals and motives in less than four months?

    So here we have a whole list of cases with credible evidence that the ACLU has helped protect many people’s freedom of religion.

    What do we have on your side of the debate, Anthony? Nothing but your unverified claims about some things you think the ACLU did. You keep mentioning a cross that used to be on a hillside near where you live. You have presented ZERO EVIDENCE to verify that the ACLU had anything to do with the removal of that cross. Maybe they did, but you certainly haven’t shown us any good reason to believe they did.

    The same is true for all the other claims you’ve made. ZERO EVIDENCE. It’s getting really embarrassing to debate you on this, Anthony. It’s like having a battle of wits with an unarmed man, only worse, because the poor sucker doesn’t even seem to realize he’s unarmed.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    Referring to your comment #32. One winter evening nine years ago, I was waiting for my wife to get out from work in St. Paul where we lived at the time. My two little tykes were in their car seats. My youngest was five. I decided that since we had a long wait, it was excision night, the night to begin to excise Christmas from their lives.

    It ws a pre-emptive strike. There would be no Hanukkah bushes in our house, and as long as I lived, definitely no Christmas trees.

    So I talked about the legend of a man in Turkey who had the reputation for throwing gold in people’s windows. I may not have had the legend exactly right, but it was good enough for government work. I explained how this fellow evolved into the Dutch Sinkt Niklaas with his pipe, travelling around and giving toys to kids at Christmas.

    Then I explained how Santa Claus was the most effective marketing tool ever invented. How department stores pushed Santa because Santa pushed toys – which parents had to buy. Every time their Christian cousins – a relative had intermarried – talked about Santa Claus, I kept telling them how clever the departmnet store owners were at trying to part money from parent’s pockets.

    This is how you curb the desire for something. By teaching about it very early in life with a negative slant. Now obvioulsy, I’m not trying to suggest you do the same with Santa Claus. Assuming that you are a Christian of one variey or another, this is part of your holiday fun. But the concept could be extended elsewhere in your culture – by parents and other authority figures to kids.

  • Alethinos

    Victor… Excellent posts old boy. Really. I doff whatever the hell that French word is for hat, at you!


  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    With the light of free market capitalism shone upon him, Mr. Grande apparently had a moment of clarity. In comment #41, he writes, “…our country is becoming more diverse in religious terms.”

    Now, Mr. Grande, why don’t you take a little more time to connect the dots here? After all, our economy reveals our culture and a good capitalist knows and understands market demographics.

    The American people have always been a diverse lot and multiculturalism has always been the very definition of American culture. It just took us a century or two to figure that out and acknowledge it as one of our greatest strengths.

    Because Christianity wrongfully enjoyed a privileged status for so long, I can understand why its equalization feels like marginalization.

    But if you can get past those emotions and use the common sense and reasoning of retailers who have improved their bottom lines with diversified marketing, you might just come to the conclusion that keeping state away from church (and vise versa) is a really Good Thing.

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Ruvy in Jerusalem writes, “This is how you curb the desire for something. By teaching about it very early in life with a negative slant.”

    Yes, that works. But it is an endeavor that is taken on by individual choice and it must be optional, not mandated by legislation.

    For a predominantly American audience, you have to be mindful of how you implement the notion of “curbing” habits, behaviors and the things associated with them, or else people will get the wrong idea and accuse you of promoting tyranny and oppression.

    For example, cigarette smoking is well known to be detrimental to health, but we don’t ban the practice because that would feed the already rampant gangsterism associated with other forms of popular contraband.

    Rather, we disseminate all the information about the addictiveness and negative health effects of tobacco and then let people decide for themselves whether or not to smoke.

    Such is the case with what we teach our children with regard to our culture and its unique quirks and concerns. We do so according to our individual customs and beliefs, not some predefined governmental mandate.

  • Temple Stark

    A section editor pointed your way as a pick of the 11-19/11-25 week. Click HERE to find out why.

    Cheers. Temple

  • Eric

    Good comments. I am an ACLU member and supporter and am often curious as to why people are so anti-aclu. It turns out: ignorance. Some are simply uninformed while others choose to be uninformed as it suits their comraderie with their conservative cohorts. Conservatives who are against the ACLU seem more antiamerican than what they propose against ACLU. I think its great when people make the case for ACLU and highlight the practicality through which ACLU manifests what they support or not. That being said, it is important to realize ACLU does their work because no one else will. Unfortunately, there are people who want to take advantage of such disadvantage by promoting an anti-aclu agenda. Its the good folk like you and others who save them. Keep up the good work.

  • Eric

    To Anthony Grande:

    I just took notice of all the freedoms you seem to lament are taken away at the expense of the ACLU.

    Wearing a cross to school is not forbidden. Then again, there is no school called ACLU. So how is it ACLU are preventing you from wearing your cross to school? In fact, ACLU have defended a persons right to worship.

    ACLU does not make law. They are a “big influence in decision making” on cases that are relevant to constitutional compromise. That is, overzealouos people thinking the courts should make an exception to an entity’s freedom because of what that entity represents. ACLU’s significance in preventing such emotionally laced constitutional compromise are what keeps America FREE.

    I simply do not believe that you are prevented from saying “UNDER GOD” in school, and at the behest of the ACLU. Instead, I believe you are acting emotionally to some percieved affliction had with something that is not actually restrained, but restrained from, perhaps, peer pressure.

    The flags and your property situation is more like an association thing. You agreed to live in a community that dictates proper exterior display for the benefit of the community as a whole. Unless you live in a community explicitly managed by the American Civil Liberties Organization in Washington, DC (which is unlikely) – it is not the ACLU that is the problem, it is your choice of community. However, I strongly suggest you ask the ACLU for counsel as they will most likely support your right to decorate your home as you see fit even if it is unpopular to your conservative, anti-aclu neighbors.