A group often praised for its work in defending citizens’ civil liberties, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has become the subject of criticism for its current stance on free speech and when it’s considered okay to defend it.
Maher: “You were head of this organization for twenty-five years, from 1978 into this century, it’s changing, it was a stall worth defender of free speech, is it still that?”
Grasser: “Not as much, they just produced a couple of years ago, new guidelines for their lawyers to use, when deciding what ‘free speech’ cases to take. Now before they take a case defending someone’s free speech, they have to make sure it doesn’t offend or threaten others civil liberties and values. In other words before they defend your free speech they want to see what you say. That’s the ACLU? No, that’s the government!”
The ACLU’s former Executive Director Ira Glasser appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss the nonprofit’s changing position on free speech.
“They just produced a couple years ago new guidelines for their lawyers to use when deciding what free speech cases to take,” Glasser said. “In other words, before they defend your free speech, they want to see what you say.”
Glasser, with Maher, acknowledged that all organizations change over time. Still, since no one else like the ACLU is defending free speech, the government will inevitably be left to decide.
This is one of the best interviews on free speech in years, check it out below.