Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has become the victim of a mass de-linking for having the temerity to write the words, “I think that demonizing the ACLU is a bit silly. I do feel that they’ve become overly partisan in recent years, but they still do good work,” in a brief, August 29 blogpost. Interestingly enough, Mr. Reynolds was not referring to Stop The ACLU, but rather to a book by Alan Sears and Craig Osten entitled, The ACLU Vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values.
In an August 31 response to Mr. Reynolds’ statement, Jay of Stop The ACLU writes, “We don’t think it is silly at all. And Glenn is entitled to his opinion. We just no longer wish to link to someone that supports an anti-American organization. Here are a few reasons why they should be demonized. [List of reasons].”
That same Stop The ACLU blogpost contains an update about an apparent “instalanche*” that was the alleged result of the large volume of traffic Mr. Reynolds’ blog site receives and sent to Stop the ACLU via link, “Hey, just because a few of us don’t agree with Glenn, and no longer wish to read him, I wonder why he thinks it was worth an instalanche. I mean, whats the big deal? Not that I don’t appreciate the traffic, and will gladly add anyone to the list who agrees with us. Glenn sends his readers here telling them we are delinking because he said that ‘demonizing the ACLU is silly.’”
Jay concludes his blogpost with, “Of course I have to delink him. I’m anti-ACLU, and I must stand by principle,” and an appeal to others to do the same, “If you agree, and delink Glenn let us know and we will add you to the list. If you have never linked to Glenn for whatever reason, we will add you to the list as well. If you have a post about this, send us a trackback and it will appear as a link below. If it gets big enough I’ll start a blogroll.”
As of this writing, the Stop The ACLU’s still-growing, “I’m Not Linked To Glenn Reynolds List” contains the names of 40 de-linkers.
Now, I do not wish to demonize Stop The ACLU — whose tagline is “Beating the ACLU With Their Own Sickle and Hammer” — but I am bewildered as to why the Stop The ACLU folks were so offended by Mr. Reynolds remark because Stop The ACLU has never appeared to be afraid of dissenting viewpoints. In fact, Stop The ACLU often invites card-carrying ACLU members (including yours truly) and other assorted folks they perceive as “liberals” and/or “leftists” to join in their blog discussions, which almost always makes for some mighty interesting discourse.
I have no problem with people who wish to stand by their principles. As a matter of fact, I often think that too few people are willing to do so these days. But this whole de-linking party seems rather excessive to me in light of the Stop The ACLU’s past willingness to allow those who disagree with their assessment of the ACLU to post comments to Stop the ACLU’s blog.
After all, it is not as if Mr. Reynolds expressed his unquestioning loyalty to the ACLU and all of its causes. And Mr. Reynolds did not even criticize Stop The ACLU, but rather the practice of demonizing the ACLU, which Stop The ACLU has allowed dissenting commenters to do on their blog — albeit never without swift and firm counterarguments (thus making for fascinating discussions).
However, let’s not omit any potentially important back stories or other details. Mr. Reynolds, who is a law professor at the University of Tennessee, has worked with the ACLU in the past, and has written that he will probably do so again.
Most recently, Mr. Reynolds worked with the ACLU on a legal brief for the New Orleans rave case, in which the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) tried to prosecute three New Orleans concert promoters under the federal “crack house law.”
The “crack house” law makes it a felony to maintain a facility in which illegal drugs are consumed. In the past, the law had been applied to traditional crack houses and “shooting galleries” (places where heroin users inject their illegal drug of choice) until former U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan reasoned that since some of the people who go to “rave” parties sometimes use illegal drugs at them, that concert promoters must know of the illegal drug use (especially in light of the presence of “drug paraphernalia,” such as bottled water and glow sticks) and therefore a “rave” must be an event that takes place “for the purpose of drug consumption,” under the federal crack house law.
The federal district court dismissed the charges, calling them a violation of the First Amendment. And this was likely due, in part, to the work of the ACLU and Mr. Reynolds.
Of course, most of the folks over at Stop The ACLU are prohibitionists, but they also acknowledge that Mr. Reynolds and others are entitled to their opinions. However, it might just be that the people of Stop The ACLU only respect peoples’ right to informed opinions.
In a second update to his blogpost, Jay writes, “I just got off the phone with someone from the Alliance Defense Fund who suggests that maybe Glenn should read Alan Sear’s new book ACLU Vs. America before he bashes it. Makes sense to me. Have you checked the facts and resources Glenn?”
That is a fair question as it doesn’t do one’s credibility any good to criticize a book one hasn’t yet read and likely does not intend to read in the future — although Mr. Reynolds did not call the book itself “silly,” but rather the practice of “demonizing the ACLU,” which is, according to its promotional web site, the apparent aim of the book in question:
“The Alliance Defense Fund’s Alan Sears and Craig Osten lay bare the subversive plans, deceitful tactics, and shocking goals of the Left’s leading legal powerhouse. Far from the noble protector of our constitutional rights many Americans believe it to be, the ACLU has from its earliest days deliberately and patiently chipped away at the legal, moral, and religious foundations of our Republic.”
Well, these are the facts (peppered with my commentary, of course) of this blogdrama as I see them. Although I suppose that most of the people who care enough to take a “side” in this controversy are going to base their assessments upon their opinions of the ACLU and Stop the ACLU rather than the facts.
As a card-carrying member of the ACLU (and sometimes-commenter on Stop The ACLU’s blog), the most important thing I see here is that all parties involved have been exercising their First Amendment rights, something all Americans — whether they love or hate the ACLU — should hold near and dear to their hearts, even when disagreeing with one another.
* Instalanche: A sudden influx of thousands of hits that threatens to crush your server, brought on by a link from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.com. (Source: Bloglossary)