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+--Forum: After the Bar Closes...
+---Topic: ACLU and U started by stevestory

Posted by: stevestory on Jan. 04 2006,08:22

I just renewed my membership in the ACLU. I've been a supporter of them ever since I decided to go to their website and read what they actually think, instead of basing my opinion of them on howls of outrage by conservatives about one or another anecdotal case they were involved in. This happened in 2002. As I renew my membership, I encourage all of you who care about our Enlightenment values to join. They did right by us in Dover, show your support!

< Check out the ACLU and join. >
Posted by: The Ghost of Paley on Jan. 04 2006,09:57

Just out of curiosity, do you know the ACLU's official position on gun control and the second amendment?
Posted by: celtic_elk on Jan. 04 2006,11:07

< ACLU's Second Amendment position >
Posted by: Mr_Christopher on Jan. 10 2006,09:08

I am generally a big fan of the ACLU but I was dissapointed that the ACLU did not lend a hand when the New Orleans police department unconstitutionally started door to door confiscation of guns from law abiding citizens in New Orleans after the hurricane.  

*knock knock*

Who's there?

*New Orleans police departmen*

How can I help you?

*Hand over any guns you have in the house*

You're kidding?

*No. Hand them over now*

The NRA sued on behalf of law abiding gun owners and rightfully won. This was a no brainer.  

Sadly, this was a golden opportunity for the ACLU to demonstrate they defend ALL the constitutional rights and ammendments and not just the ones that appeal to the left.  I was dissapointed by their silence to say the least.

Unfortunaley the NRA (whom I am not a big fan of) seems to be one of the only organizations who defends the 2nd ammendment.
Posted by: Flint on Jan. 10 2006,09:29

As celtic_elk's link makes pretty clear, the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment the NRA defends doesn't very closely line up with the interpretation the ACLU sets forth.

Without taking any particular position on this myself, it seems clear that the NRA very carefully pretends the first half of that amendment doesn't exist, while the ACLU has decided the second half is the one that doesn't really mean anything.

And so the NRA thinks the amendment says that everyone is guaranteed an unlimited right to bear whatever arms they see fit, from poison gas to suitcase nukes. The ACLU thinks the amendment is a now long-obsolete relic of the original 13 states' reluctance to disarm themselves *as States*, because they feared excessive Federal authority.

The issue has clearly raised national emotions beyond any reconciliation in the form of a single Supreme Court interpretation, so the issue is very carefully sidestepped and probably always will be. It's probably also the case that neither side in this issue really dares pursue it to any definitive decision, for fear of what that decision might be. Instead, the courts are content to let "reasonable regulation" take its course, and the ACLU is unwilling to rock the boat of benign neglect.
Posted by: Mr_Christopher on Jan. 10 2006,10:02

Flint, I am not a big fan of the NRA (yet I own a nice gun collection) but I don't think this is an accuate statement:

"And so the NRA thinks the amendment says that everyone is guaranteed an unlimited right to bear whatever arms they see fit, from poison gas to suitcase nukes"

And I could be wrong but I think constitutional scholars tend to read more than just the text of the constitution, such as reading the writings of those who wrote the constitution.  

Most all of the founding fathers who contributed to the constitution wrote about their feelings regarding private gun ownership and when we look at those documents they clearly mistrusted a government who did not allow private gun ownership and spoke highly of gun ownership.  I could dig up quite a few quotes from founding fathers if anyone has any interest in the subject.

The fact that the ACLU seems to ignore that historical data is what frustrates me.  And their silence during the New Orleans thing was most troubling, at least for those who like the 2nd ammendment AND the ACLU.  I really thought they lost out on a great case.

The NRA does tend to take things to an extreem thus my lack of support for them.
Posted by: Flint on Jan. 10 2006,11:15


Did you read the ACLU material at the link? They make what I consider a fairly good point - that the NRA (whatever they may believe; I don't know if I exaggerated their beliefs or not) in practice concedes that some level of arms regulation is reasonable. The ACLU then claims that this being the case, the debate only revolves around what degree of regulation we as a people consider reasonable. I got the distinct impression that the ACLU believes that if we as a people decide that "reasonable regulation" means outlawing all private ownership *except* when a State has called up and armed an active militia, the 2nd Amendment is still not violated.

To me, this degree of flexibility renders the 2nd Amendment pretty meaningless.

Yes, we're aware that in the 18th century, living in sometimes hostile conditions and with hunting for food a common necessity (as well as defense against animals, etc.) gun ownership was as much a necessity (and thus taken for granted) as vehicle ownership is today. I'm not personally convinced that 18th century SOP should in all circumstances be regarded as today's ideal model.

I'm not persuaded myself that an armed citizenry presents any serious obstacle to a national military force, so I agree with the ACLU in that. I'm personally not opposed to "reasonable regulation" so long as all serious voices get a say in what's reasonable. To me, personal arms are for hunting, collecting, recreation, and self-defense. My own collection of about a dozen guns fall into all but the hunting category; my wife competes in shooting contests, we both carry everywhere we can. If our own activities became too difficult, we'd probably join the forces of the gun-nuts ourselves.

But I see the outcome of the suit you spoke of (I hadn't heard anything about that) as reasonable. They had no good cause to confiscate guns, and the court agreed. Presumably, next time it won't happen. This is the kind of "reasonable regulation taking its course" I spoke about. Sounds reasonable to me.
Posted by: Mr_Christopher on Jan. 10 2006,11:44

Flint, yes I read that ACLU statement, I orginally read it a couple of years ago.  

And I did not mean to hijack this thread, I am a big fan of the ACLU and thank them for their Kitzmiller efforts so I will leave it at that.


Posted by: Flint on Jan. 10 2006,11:51

I also support the ACLU. I was in a discussion on some board not too long ago, where (as usual) the fundies were excoriating the ACLU as the tool of the fags, commies, and baby killers. I provided a sizeable list of cases where the ACLU was explicitly defending the rights of Christians to BE Christians. My argument was that Christians had just as many civil liberties as any other citizen, and those liberties deserved to be defended as much as anyone else's. I gave links.

The response was informative. Clearly, I must be lying. Since I was defending the ACLU, I couldn't be trusted. Since I provided links, the links couldn't be trusted. But others pointed out that I couldn't possibly have fabricated all those sites; these cases were mentioned all over the place.

I think the net conclusion was that those in the ACLU were so abysmally stupid that they defended Christians simply because they didn't have the brains to know what they were doing!
Posted by: JimB on Jan. 10 2006,12:00


That is an interesting reaction.

My basically feeling throughout my life was that the ACLU often represented issues to which I was (mildly) opposed.  However, when they represented issues that I supported it was for issues about which I felt very strongly.

So even though I would often be irritated by them, I felt that were extremely worth while.

So how much of our individual rights do we owe our society?  Society definitely provides us with benefits so I assume that we should owe it some.  The question is where should that divide be drawn?

It's not surprising that fundamentalists feel that all rights should be abandoned in favor of society.  That is arguably one way you could describe fundamentalism.  In fundamentalism, when an individual takes a position (on *any* issue) opposed to the group, they are immediately ejected from the fundamentalist group (ala Dave Scot at UC).
Posted by: Flint on Jan. 10 2006,16:51


So how much of our individual rights do we owe our society?  Society definitely provides us with benefits so I assume that we should owe it some.  The question is where should that divide be drawn?

My approach is to say that humans are a gregarious species, and that things like rights emerge from social interactions generally. We know that we benefit from cooperation. We can do things together we can't do individually, and we can organize an effective division of labor. The benefits of these things are very substantial.

But to implement them, we must make concessions to one another; we must agree to restrict our behavior in ways congenial to those with whom we cooperate, and expect them to do the same. So "rights" are what we as a group allow all of us as members of that group to do without causing undue grief to the group itself. And that's the cost we pay to get the benefits of social living.

As for where we draw the line, this line is in constant motion, in thousands of ways, all the time, depending on a never-ending process of negotiation. There are no absolute rules, only general principles that emerge over time from what has been discovered to work well enough.

It's not surprising that fundamentalists feel that all rights should be abandoned in favor of society.

I don't think this is how they feel, but I may be wrong. By observation, fundamentalists don't wish to relinquish any of *their* rights, they only want you to give up yours. They have mastered the double standard, which they've done by ginning up some gods to whom they alone speak privately and directly, who advises them that their urges and preferences are Officially Approved. When have you ever heard of a Christian being told by God that he's wrong?

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