I encourage you to read this piece in Colgate University’s newsletter about Vic Walczak, the state legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. I had the privilege to work with Vic during my time on staff there, though never as much as I would have liked. He’s a great guy who’s helped a lot of people, and the story is well worth your time.
I haven’t done one of these in a while, but if Europe can land a robot on a comet then by God I can read my Google alerts and present my little Constitutional digest. As we end a week in which TIME magazine suggests banning the word “feminist” and a celebrated emerging sci-fi author is revealed as one of the Internet’s most nefarious trolls, it seems appropriate to take a look at what’s happening worldwide with the rights to speech, assembly, and expression:
- Writing at CNN, Rupert Abbott of Amnesty International raised an alarm about troubling restrictions on free speech he says are sweeping southeast Asia.
- Following the swift response to his racist and misogynist Twitter screed, comedian Artie Lange has found few defenders. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon and Katie McDonough at Slate wrote particularly strong takedowns of those who would defend Lange. Continue Reading
Call me partial, but articles like this get my blood boiling. You can read the whole thing at that link, but here’s a summary: John Featherman, writing for Philly.com, doesn’t believe the ACLU should promote themselves as defenders of gay rights, because the ACLU defended the free speech rights of Westboro Baptist Church in court.
Here’s a sample:
“[ACLU-PA Legal Director Witold] Walczak started out by telling me, “The ACLU defends everyone’s rights and strongly believes that no one is free unless everyone is free. If government has the power to squelch Phelps it has the power to censor other unpopular groups, with the LGBT community being an unfortunate and frequent target.” Walczak later added, “ Just as the ACLU’s defense of abortion protesters doesn’t undermine our commitment to a woman’s reproductive freedom and representing the KKK doesn’t compromise our dedication to racial justice, defending Phelps’ free-speech rights is consistent with our LGBT-rights work.”
I don’t know. I just don’t see it. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated or hip enough to see how you can represent the interests of opposing parties at the same time. To me, a former candidate for political office, that’s like taking money from a donor and then turning around and giving it to their worst enemy. In my world, you just don’t do that.”
So, first of all… WBC is the LGBT community’s worst enemy? Really? Not the politicians who want to prevent us from marrying the people we love, and put us in jail for having sex? Not the religious leaders who incite violence against us, and push foreign nations to legalize the execution of gays? Not the fake psychologists who claim electroshock treatments and solitary confinement can turn gay children straight?
No, those aren’t our worst enemies. People who say nasty things about us. They’re our worst enemies. Continue Reading
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I hardly need validation from celebrities to make me feel good about my job. Still, it was a nice start to the week to read George R. R. Martin’s screed against nationwide voter suppression efforts. A sampling:
The people behind these efforts at disenfranchising large groups of voters (the young, the old, the black, the brown) are not Republicans, since clearly they have scant regard for our republic or its values. They are oligarchs and racists clad in the skins of dead elephants.
As a fan of GRRM’s books, I’m also a regular reader of his blog. Naturally I posted a comment thanking him on behalf of his fans at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, where we just wrapped up a two-week-long lawsuit against the state’s voter suppression law. We’re expecting a decision this week, so we’re all on pins and needles right now. It’s nice to see that an author I respect and admire is willing to speak out against such injustice.
Now… how do I parlay this into a blurb from GRRM?
So a high school principal in Tennessee, Dorothy Bond, was using the PA system to preach about Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. She was holding assemblies to tell her students that gay people “weren’t on God’s path” and were “going to hell.” She promised 60-day suspensions for any students guilty of same-sex PDAs. She also told female students that if they got preganant their lives would be over, and that they would end up “jobless, homeless, and living off the government.”
So then the ACLU found out, and we sent the school district a letter. Three hours later, Dorothy Bond was unemployed.
Dan Savage says: “The ACLU means business, and they will fuck you up.”
What a way to end the week. I’ll be walking on air all the way home.