The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has been under fire for a little while now, mostly because they haven’t been particularly consistent in their mission regarding civil rights. One big one they tend to ignore is the right to keep and bear arms.
But they’ve gone beyond that in recent years, actually advocating for some thing that the organization would have opposed in the past.
Now, they’re under fire again. This time, because they’re partnering with the NRA.
No, they’re not about to start talking about gun rights. That would be too much to ask from them.
What they’re talking, though, is free speech, which is right in the ACLU’s wheelhouse. Unfortunately, it’s not without some controversy.
But before defending those rights in court, the prestigious group first had to defend its decision online, as the angry backlash began immediately. Anti-Second Amendment activist Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action was among the first to react, disdainfully wondering why the ACLU would consider the NRA a legitimate organization.
The ACLU considers the NRA a legitimate “organization”? They’ve been investigated by the IRS, federal & state lawmakers for financial misconduct, tax fraud, campaign finance violations, & serving as a foreign asset. Their CEO admitted to using member donations to enrich himself. https://t.co/g8ZJW7G5Am
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 9, 2023
The ACLU’s New York chapter, NYCLU, was likewise up in arms.
The NYCLU strongly disagrees with the ACLU’s decision to directly represent and therefore provide direct support to the NRA.
— NYCLU (@NYCLU) December 9, 2023
In its defense, the national organization specifically said it does not “support” the NRA’s mission or viewpoints, but that it doesn’t change the fact that the government “can’t punish organizations because they disapprove of their views.
“We understand that gun violence is a real and present threat and that America’s approach to guns causes harm in many communities,” they added. “And yet, while we vigorously oppose the NRA’s viewpoint, we cannot give government officials the power to silence those with whom they disagree.”
That right there is the most freedom-focused thing I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m actually glad to see it.
When it comes to people’s rights, you don’t have to like how people exercise it. That’s not up to you and while you’re free to voice your opinion on how they do so, you can’t prevent them from exercising it however they wish.
That’s the essence of civil liberties, the idea that of defending your right to say something I’d spend a lifetime speaking out against.
People like Shannon Watts opposing the ACLU’s actions aren’t surprising. They’re hacks who simply want to infringe on our rights and are ready to do even more of it. Anti-gun groups are tripping over themselves to support this infringement on the freedom of speech. That’s because they don’t realize that if that can happen to the NRA, it can happen to them.
It seems that, surprisingly, the ACLU is the one group that gets it.
Even if people like Watts don’t like the NRA, what they have to understand is that the world doesn’t share their views about a great many topics. If a state can get away with bullying and silencing an organization it disapproves of, what is there to stop other states from doing the same thing with, say, gun control organizations?
It’s why you have to draw that line and defend it, even if you don’t like the people you’re defending.
I sincerely doubt anyone at the ACLU is going to become good buddies with anyone at the NRA. If it does happen, it’ll be in spite of their differences, not due to a unity of cause or anything. But, in this case, the ACLU is stepping up and defending civil liberties because that’s what’s at stake here.
The fact that some ACLU branches are refusing to participate and actually taking issue with the national organization doing what it exists to do is the truly troubling part.
The ACLU defended the right of literal Nazis to march through a Jewish community. These people act like the NRA and gun rights groups in general are somehow worse.