ACLU called out by former national board member on criticism of Musk's Twitter takeover
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has degenerated into partisan hackery. No longer guided by dedication to rights for all, it is now just another leftist group strip-mining its former prestige in the cause of the progressive agenda.
A case in point is the criticism of Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter voiced by the ACLU's executive director. Sam Amici in Outkick:
"While Elon Musk is an ACLU card-carrying member and one of our most significant supporters, there's a lot of danger having so much power in the hands of any one individual," ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement. "In today's world, a small handful of private tech companies — including Twitter — play a profound and unique role in enabling our right to express ourselves online. Social media is a critical tool used to share ideas, express opinions, and consume information that has real-life impacts in discourse in the offline world.
"We should be worried about any powerful central actor, whether it's a government or any wealthy individual — even if it's an ACLU member — having so much control over the boundaries of our political speech online."
One person who noticed something wrong is Michael Meyers, president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition (NYCRC), which he co-founded in 1986. He has a long background of service in the ACLU as well. He
served on the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union (with perfect attendance) for a quarter of a century (between 1976 and 2001), and on the National Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties (also with perfect attendance) for 24 years (between 1981 and 2005)
Photo courtesy of NYCRC.
Mr. Meyers shared with us a letter he wrote to the president of the ACLU, Deborah N. Archer, and graciously gave us permission to quote from it (emphasis in original):
Thank you so much for your prompt answer to my email regarding what I considered a bizarre and errant statement about civil liberties principles on the part of the ACLU Executive Director who voiced criticism of and concerns about Elon Musk's purchase (and taking control) of Twitter, should that actually come to pass. My initial response to the Musk purchase of Twitter was pretty straightforward,--So what?
Why does the ACLU comment on a private individual's purchase of a major media outlet?! Would the ACLU--did the ACLU--oppose a single family's ownership of The New York Times or The Washington Post or of the Fox News Channel or (even) when Ted Turner owned and controlled CNN? I could recount example after example of silence on the part of the ACLU on such transactions or about such media-ownership. A civil libertarian, like me, might even have asked back then the same that I ask today about Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter and the ACLU's disposition on same--So what?
So what that private individuals or families own major media outlets, whether that outlet is a newspaper (including The New York Times, The Washington Post) or a major television network like CNN or the Fox News Channel?
I write not to take issue with your and the ACLU Board's right to take a view different from those core civil liberties principles that we took when I was (simultaneously and separately) on the New York Civil Liberties Union Board of Directors and ACLU National Board of Directors. (And, yes, I, too, served for many years on the NYCLU's and ACLU's Executive Committees). But what galls me is that the ACLU could take such a bizarre position (assuming Anthony is accurately speaking for the ACLU Board in this connection) on any individual's purchase of a major media outlet. What's the policy-basis for such a concern on the part of the ACLU viz-a-viz Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter?
Your response to me did not cite the specific or controlling ACLU policy; and I could not find the policy online (in part because ACLU Policy Manuals were discontinued many years ago). Indeed, Anthony Romero's comment was quite troubling, notwithstanding his personal dislike of the Elon Musk purchase of Twitter. Romero, speaking on behalf of the ACLU, is quoted as having said:
"...there's a lot of danger having so much power in the hands of individuals."
I suppose Anthony is entitled to his personal opinion and distaste for the announced purchase of Twitter by Mr. Musk; but, Anthony speaks for the ACLU. Indeed, when Anthony speaks on civil liberties matters, he singularly speaks for the ACLU. Quite frankly, concerned civil libertarians, and members of the ACLU (like me), are troubled by such peevish musings, from a civil liberties standpoint. Especially troubling and perturbing is Anthony's statement to the effect that "We (sic) should be worried about any powerful central actor, whether it's a government or any wealthy individual--even if it's an ACLU member [Elon Musk]--having so much control over the boundaries of our political speech online."
What is Anthony saying in that statement? What policy support is there for such a crass statement?
Does the ACLU not believe that as an individual Elon Musk has the right to purchase a media outlet--an outlet he (Musk) has pledged to open up to cross-opinions, i.e. to different points of view--viewpoints of conservatives, and moderates, and liberals, and progressives that will not be banned or censored by the owner and moguls in control and in charge of the new Twitter? Do not Elon Musk and other owners of media outlets have First Amendment rights? Shall the long arm of government now be sicced on private owners of Twitter and/or on other such organs, and/or on the individuals and families that own and control their newspapers and TV and radio stations?
What specific ACLU policies (might I ask) inform or direct such public musings on the part of the ACLU's executive director--viewpoints that you seem to suggest are backed up by ACLU Board policies?
Jeff Bezos control of media: good. Elon Musk control: bad. I do not see the principle here.