Readers take issue with praising the ACLU for defending religious freedoms

I’m glad we’re all in agreement on Sunday’s column that simply noted the growing number of cases in which local American Civil Liberties Union lawyers have defended religious freedoms.

It wasn’t a political point to ponder, just a fact. And that fact runs contrary to the image of the ACLU projected by some media pit bulls who stoke the fires of fear and intolerance.

It’s good to know we’re all holding hands around the campfire on this one.

Well, there was one guy, who wrote, “We should not listen to the ‘pit bulls of talk radio’ in lieu of reading the pit bulls of newspaper print? You got the ACLU side of your article, but not the pit bulls’ side. Typical!”

He must have been talking to this man, who said in part, “The ACLU (American Criminal Liberties Union) takes on a religious case here and there for the same reason the Nevada Legislature instituted an ‘ethics commission:’ window dressing. It’s for show and nothing more. The ACLU’s agenda is crystal clear, to me. To aid and abet almost anything that erodes the values that I grew up with and to protect the worst that society has to offer including child molesters, the criminal element, and the butt-banger agenda.”

From there, his letter got slightly more descriptive.

A self-described “proud American, Veteran, and taxpaying, law-biding citizen” writes, “I enjoy reading your opinions for many years and agree with you most of the time …”

Stop right there. Have I ever said you have excellent taste in writing?

But, alas, he continued:

“There is an old saying ‘one bad word is worth a thousand good.’ You have omitted a pertinent fact in regards to the ACLU. They represent and fight for the rights of pedophiles and child molesters (North American Man Boy Love Association.) That doesn’t seem to bother you. How about writing an opinion on that, and let’s hear the response from Mr. Peck. Is it a Constitutional right to molest children, John? According to the ACLU it is.

“My opinion has always been death for convicted child molesters. I hope to God that your children will never, ever come in contact with any of these scumbags in our society. I wonder how your opinion piece would have read if a child of yours were molested and the ACLU got the scumbag off?

“I don’t believe you would be giving the ACLU accolades for anything, or, would you? Obviously the right-wing radio pit bulls are right in condemning this radical organization in the name of all of our children. …

“Gary Peck states that the ACLU is ‘the biggest misconception is that we are somehow anti-religion or anti-Christian. We are not.’ John, try erecting a manger scene in front of the R-J at Christmastime. Gary Peck will be there like stink on poop, removing it. Freedom of religion? Why must we Americans assimilate to the foreigners who bring their extremist religions to our great country when they should be assimilating into our society. How does freedom of religion offend anyone? During the ‘Holiday Season’ (Christmas never offended anyone until recent times), I have never walked by a religious symbol of any denomination and been offended. Who are these radicals who get their undies in a knot when a manger is erected at Christmastime?”

He’ll be getting a Christmas card from this fellow:

“Citing a handful of cases in which the ACLU accomplished or is attempting to accomplish something worthwhile is an incredibly simplistic approach to the question of whether the organization as a whole is accomplishing something worthwhile. No one sane is going to argue that EVERYTHING the organization does is hurtful to our society. But the fact is the ACLU has defended such principles as: civil rights for LGBT people, affirmative action, decriminalization of heroin and cocaine, abolition of capital punishment.

“For heaven’s sake, the ACLU defended the North American Man/Boy Love Association, and that alone ought to qualify it for any reasonable person’s disdain.

“It was difficult to determine what you were trying to accomplish with that column.”

Right now I’m wondering the same thing. Perhaps it’s this: In a country that claims to offer civil rights to everyone, the ACLU does difficult, at times malodorous and enormously unpopular work.

Not that I know anything about being enormously unpopular.

Or malodorous, for that matter.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295.

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