There are a few things out in the real world that seem to upset individuals for no particular reason whatsoever. There are people who dislike others just because they can’t agree on politics, religion, the law, the Constitution or which high school is better.
For example, some see the American Civil Liberties Union as a bunch of wild-eyed liberal lunatics who only protect lesbians and gays, criminals and hate groups. I can see where they get that position, but these same men and women do not seem to know what the ACLU does.
OK, most members, but not all, are liberal, but they all are patriots.
From the national website, the ACLU explains that it is “our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” This includes First Amendment rights, equal protection and due process and a citizen’s right to privacy.
Yes, the ACLU represented Nazis and other hate groups. But these lawsuits also allow the anti-abortion groups to protest outside of Planned Parenthood facilities. The ACLU represents those who want school-sanctioned prayer eliminated, while protecting one’s right as an individual to pray in school. It also fights to keep from censoring LGBT websites in the Camdenton R-III school district on school computers, which would allow full access to tea party activist sites.
As a member of the ACLU, I believe it does a lot of good. I do not always agree with the ACLU’s position, but its work is, without question, patriotic.
One issue coming up to vote next Saturday at the annual ACLU of Eastern Missouri meeting in St. Louis concerns the survival of the mid-Missouri chapter as a viable group. A proposal made by Executive Director Brenda Jones would strip the chapter from having its own board of directors, thus ending its autonomous status and possibly removing the chapter’s right to participate at board meetings. This action would apply to the mid-Missouri chapter, not the student chapters within the ACLU of Eastern Missouri district. This would affect almost 325 members in central Missouri, and only those 325 members.
It is actions such as this that create a greater tiff within an organization. Republican moderates are seeing the same type of action being forced upon them by the conservative activists who now appear to be running the GOP: Get rid of those who do not agree. By any means necessary.
Why does the ACLU of Eastern Missouri chapter want to take this action? Dan Viets, president of the mid-Missouri chapter, said in a May 13 letter that there was no apparent reason. Viets wrote, “That has been no significant disagreement between the Chapter and the Affiliate. …” And if Viets’ position is correct, that means the ACLU of Eastern Missouri wants to all but disenfranchise the chapter’s 325 members and the mid-Missouri board does not want that to take place.
So what is the action plan? On June 18, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri is having its annual meeting to elect board members and to change the bylaws. The mid-Missouri chapter will be carpooling to St. Louis to attend the meeting. The purpose is two-fold. First, the mid-Missouri chapter has a slate of candidates for the board elections who support the mission of the mid-Missouri chapter to maintain their independence. The second purpose is to defeat the changes in the bylaws removing the chapter’s autonomy.
Viets and the members of the mid-Missouri chapter are understandably quite upset and want you to help the ACLU of Mid-Missouri to defeat this attempted demise of the Chapter. Although last Saturday’s meeting of the local chapter had about 20 people attend, it is your voice the ACLU of Eastern Missouri needs to hear. Conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians and tea party activists all must speak up.
If you are an ACLU member, please join Dan Viets and others for the ride to St. Louis. If you are not a member, call Brenda Jones in St. Louis and tell her the proposal to remove the chapter’s autonomy is wrong. Remember, the constitutional rights the ACLU protects are not limited to liberals, criminals and hate groups, but they are for all – liberals, conservatives, anarchists and moderates alike.
David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.