The “right” to remain silent
September 27, 2012
A strange story from Rhode Island caught our eye last week.
The school district of Cranston, Rhode Island is discontinuing “father-daughter” and “mother-son” social activities, after The American Civil Liberties Union intervened on behalf of a single mother who objected that her daughter would not be able to attend a father-daughter dance.
We don’t venture into so-called “social issues.” In our view, that’s not what this is.
Activities or ideas that not long ago would have been entirely unexceptionable are more and more frequently targeted for suppression, often successfully. Note to ACLU: The sweep of targeting should set off alarm bells for anyone with even a passing interest in civil liberties. Here are just a few examples:
This week, a major Republican campaign donor said the U.S. Justice Department is leaking confidential information about past inquiries into his casino business, apparently to discredit him and candidates he supports.
Several times in recent years, climate scientists and journalists who write about them have said it should be made a crime to say human-induced greenhouse emissions might not be the primary cause of temperature changes on Earth.
This summer, the Internal Revenue Service was pondering a crackdown on political speech by tax-exempt groups—with strong implications that Republican groups were attracting hostile attention by being more successful than Democrats.
An individual finds a family event awkward and local government responds by eliminating the event for everyone. The federal government intimidates individuals who donate to the wrong party. Taxpayer-supported college professors want to jail people for their opinions about the weather.
At every level, institutions entrusted with defending civil liberties operate with cold calculation to undermine them and they generally get away with it. Practice free speech now, or lose it for good.