Two Matters Before The ACLU

The sheer diversity of services the ACLU provides to the nation never ceases to amaze me. Here are two examples from their most recent weekly summary on their Blog of Rights, as different from each other as one could imagine:

  1. Louisiana School Board Suspends Sex-Segregation Program:
    Astonishingly, there are still some public school districts that attempt to segregate students by sex and… this is the really offensive part… teach separate curricula to each sex. In the case of the school board in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, the curricula were structured along stereotypical sex roles in society… circa 1950:

    The evidence showed that RRMS had no adequate justification for the program and that girls and boys were taught differently. For example, teachers gave girls a reading quiz about bracelets and boys a reading quiz about bikes, and assigned The Witch of Blackbird Pond to the girls and Where the Red Fern Grows to the boys, because, as one teacher put it, boys like “hunting” and “dogs,” but girls prefer “love stories.”

    Apart from the absurdity of sex-segregated “separate but equal” education, the ACLU points out the legal problems with this approach:

    The lawsuit argues that the program violates Title IX — the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally-funded educational institutions — and the Constitutional guarantee of Equal Protection.

    After several trips to two federal courts, and a determination by the school board that there was no real interest on the part of parents in preserving the program, the school board voted to discontinue it.

    Honestly, in today’s world, such a program is crazy, and those who instituted it are a few bricks short of a load.

  2. Pretending WikiLeaks Doesn’t Exist: Government Secrecy Reaches Absurdity:
    After several parts of the WikiLeaks release were published in major newspapers around the world, the State Department refused to declassify 23 cables… already published, please understand… which tended to indicate that the real purpose of continued classification was a vain attempt at cover-up:

    Several of the cables describe high-level efforts by the government to pressure Spain and Germany into dropping investigations of the CIA’s torture of detainees. The cables show that the U.S. expended significant diplomatic resources in order to try and guarantee impunity for officials responsible for the abduction and torture of victims including Khaled El-Masri, an entirely innocent German citizen.

    The ACLU, of course, sent a FOIA request to the State Department requesting declassification of the 23 cables, presumably for use by El-Masri’s defense attorneys in the face of the Obama administration’s unceasing “state secrets” arguments for refusing information. How did the State Department respond?

    They IGNORED the ACLU’s FOIA request. That’s right. They ignored it.

    So the ACLU has filed a lawsuit. Is this all about the case of one alleged CIA torture victim? No:

    In spite of the cables’ widespread availability, the government has continued to maintain that documents released by WikiLeaks and published by national and international newspapers are classified. The government’s decision to cling to a legal fiction rather than conform its secrecy regime to reality has led to absurd consequences. Congressional Research Service (CRS) analysts are blocked by the Library of Congress from using these widely available documents, even as Congress relies on CRS reports to inform new legislation. The Air Force blocked the entire websites of the New York Times and other major media outlets that posted the leaked cables. Perhaps the most troubling consequence of the government’s adamant refusal to incorporate common sense into its secrecy regime is that lawyers for Guantánamo detainees have been barred from reading or discussing leaked documents concerning their clients, even though these documents are posted on the websites of major national and international newspapers and available to anyone in the world. The government has gone so far as to claim it is unable to comply with a court order that it provide guidance to lawyers representing Guantánamo detainees regarding how the lawyers may use those documents that are already publicly available.

    This is nuts. This is not even a Nixonian “modified limited hang-out”; this is a cover-up that covers up exactly nothing.

If you have a few bucks to spare, you might donate to the ACLU. Needless to say, they aren’t supported by any government grants :-), and legal efforts are expensive. And without them, our Bill of Rights isn’t worth the parchment it’s inscribed on.

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Comments

  • MandT  On Monday June 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    We heard that Sarah Plain is anti RRMS beause they chose to teach girly girls about bracelets rather than tiaras and was thus teaching about gaydom in the classroom. Is that true?

    • Steve  On Monday June 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      MandT – 😀

      I don’t follow the adventures of Sarah Palin, so I couldn’t tell you if it’s true. But if it is, it’s not only orientationist but also classist!

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