Monday, July 20, 2009

You Cant Save a Free Society by Closing It

Labeling alternative viewpoints as "terrorism" or otherwise controlling speech that is undesirable, in order to prevent "extremists" from building a movement to attack "western values" and destroy an open society is is a bit like shooting your horse so it cant be stolen. No matter if you are talking about Racist National Socialists or Fundimental Islamic Militants, in all cases, it is essential that they are free to speak whatever they think, both so that they can be publicly opposed, and because to do otherwise would be the same as allowing them to win. Otherwise, at some point, you have to wonder what you are trying so hard to keep, if you are willing to give it away.

In 1977, the ACLU filed suit against the Village of Skokie, Illinois, seeking an injunction against the enforcement of three town ordinances outlawing Neo-Nazi parades and demonstrations. Skokie, Illinois at the time had a majority population of Jews, totaling 40,000 of 70,000 citizens. A federal district court struck down the ordinances in a decision eventually affirmed by the Supreme Court. The ACLU's action in this case led to a rift between the Jewish Defense League and the ACLU. According to David Hamlin, executive director of the Illinois ACLU, "...the Chicago office which chose to provide legal counsel to neo-Nazis who have been planning to march in Skokie, has lost about 25% of its membership and nearly one-third of its budget." 30,000 ACLU members resigned in protest. The financial strain from the controversy lead to layoffs at local chapters. In his February 23, 1978 decision overturning the town ordinances, US District Court Judge Bernard M. Decker described the principle involved in the case as follows: "It is better to allow those who preach racial hatred to expend their venom in rhetoric rather than to be panicked into embarking on the dangerous course of permitting the government to decide what its citizens may say and hear ... The ability of American society to tolerate the advocacy of even hateful doctrines ... is perhaps the best protection we have against the establishment of any Nazi-type regime in this country."

And yes, the NeoNazi's legal counsel was Jewish.

Just a snippet I thought I should share, as I now have a new computer, and can now access this project.

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