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E-Pluribus | June 3, 2022
What has happened to the ACLU; questioning affirmative action has become "traumatizing;" and when everyone is a woman, no one is.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Lara Bazelon: The ACLU Has Lost Its Way
In early May, University of San Francisco School of Law professor Lara Bazelon took to Twitter (see E-Pluribus, Around Twitter) to criticize the direction of today’s ACLU. In the wake of the organization’s involvement in the very public battle between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, Bazelon expands on her thesis for the Atlantic that the ACLU is adrift.
The heart of Depp’s claim is that Heard ruined his acting career when she published a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”—a thinly veiled reference to much-publicized accusations of assault she made against Depp in court filings toward the end of their short-lived marriage. But Heard hadn’t pitched the idea to the Post—the ACLU had. Terence Dougherty, the organization’s general counsel, testified via video deposition that after Heard promised to donate $3.5 million to the organization, the ACLU named her an “ambassador on women’s rights with a focus on gender-based violence.” The ACLU had also spearheaded the effort to place the op-ed, and served as Heard’s ghostwriter. When Heard failed to pay up, Dougherty said, the ACLU collected $100,000 from Depp himself, and another $500,000 from a fund connected to Elon Musk, whom Heard dated after the divorce. (The ACLU denies that it would ever request or solicit donations in exchange for ambassadorships or op-eds.)
The ACLU’s bestowal of an ambassadorship and scribe-for-hire services upon a scandal-plagued actor willing to pay seven figures to transform herself into a victims’ advocate and advance her acting career—Heard pushed for a publication date that coincided with the release of her film Aquaman—is part of the group’s continuing decline. Once a bastion of free speech and high-minded ideals, the ACLU has become in many respects a caricature of its former self.
Over the organization’s 100-year history, the ACLU’s unique value has been its apolitical willingness to stand up for all speech, regardless of the speaker’s identity, and to stand up for those accused, no matter what the accusation. This content-neutral, take-all-comers stance is based on the premise that the silencing of one side will inevitably lead to a collective hush irreconcilable with the free marketplace of ideas and the commitment to due process that are the hallmarks of our democracy. Doing this often-unpopular work turns on the belief that having an informed and independent-minded citizenry requires the ability to countenance, analyze, and, yes, at times defend opposing points of view.
Read the whole thing.
Jack Crowe: UPenn Med School Leaders Turn on Former Dean over ‘Racist’ Affirmative-Action Criticism
Sometimes it doesn’t take much for the woke crowd to turn on its own. Retired University of Pennsylvania associate dean Stanley Goldfarb found this out the hard way after publicly questioning the impact of affirmative action on minority medical students, writes Jack Crowe at National Review.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb had a long, distinguished career in medicine that culminated with his being appointed professor emeritus and associate dean of curriculum at Perelman. He retired from his role as associate dean in 2019 but retained his emeritus title. That honor and the career that made him worthy of it weren’t enough to earn him the presumption of good faith from his former colleagues.
Goldfarb’s offense? Publicly questioning whether racial discrimination is as pervasive in medicine as the conventional elite narrative suggests. Responding last week to a study which suggested that systemic racism explains why minority medical residents tend to receive worse performance evaluations than their white peers, Goldfarb asked: “Could it be they were just less good at being residents?”
Within hours of the tweet being sent, Medicine department chairman Dr. Michael Parmacek sent an email to Perelman students and faculty labeling Goldfarb’s question “racist” and offering mental-health counseling to those who may have been traumatized by reading it.
[ . . . ]
Goldfarb argues that affirmative-action programs have elevated unprepared minority students in the service of crude racial admissions quotas, inadvertently harming both the field of medicine as a whole and the minority applicants themselves, who may have thrived at less selective institutions or who may be legitimately qualified for the positions to which they were accepted, but who are now forced to work under a cloud of suspicion about their qualifications.
Read it all.
Jennifer C. Braceras and Inez Feltscher Stepman: Biden’s Title IX Rewrite Is an Assault on Women’s Rights
Proponents of the gender identity movement frame it as the next frontier in civil rights, but Jennifer Braceras and Inez Stepman write at the Wall Street Journal that the Biden administration is prepared to set back women’s rights in its proposed Title IX changes. If the federal government determines that in effect, to paraphrase The Incredibles movie, when everyone is a woman, then no one is.
In perhaps the most sweeping change to federal law ever enacted by unelected bureaucrats, the administration’s draft rules redefine “sex” to include “gender” and “gender identity.” This would require every educational institution that receives federal money to allow biological men into women’s locker rooms, sororities and other previously female-only spaces. Any school that attempts to prevent the next Lia Thomas from competing on a women’s team will have its federal funding snapped back—under the same law that once required schools to increase athletic opportunities for women and girls.
The Biden rules would also limit the ability of parents to exempt their children from lessons on choosing one’s sex, while empowering schools to transition children without receiving parental consent or even informing parents. Because the new rules both redefine “sex” to mean “gender identity” and carelessly expand the definition of harassment to include protected speech, schools are already punishing children who use biological pronouns to refer to their classmates.
Out of a single sentence barring discrimination on the basis of sex, the Biden administration is illegally rewriting federal law to erase women and undermine constitutional liberties
Read it all here.
He’s back! After 122 days, Georgetown Law has ended Ilya Shapiro’s tweet-induced involuntary administrative leave:
Via Heterodox Academy, Shirley Mullen makes the case (counterintuitive, to some) that in certain contexts, mandatory faith statements can actually advance academic freedom:
And finally, speaking of “truth,” one gets the impression that the interviewee in this clip from Matt Walsh’s new documentary can’t, in the words of Col. Jessup, handle the truth: