While right wingers love to pillory the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a leftist organization, the ACLU has historically defended free speech across the spectrum. If the Blue Dog’s memory serves him correctly, the group has even defended the right of such despicable hate groups as the KKK to spew their vitriolic propaganda. The ACLU is at its most credible and noble when it rises above politics and keeps its eye on free speech regardless of how abhorrent or offensive it may be.
Against this backdrop, let’s take a look at today’s news about Latino legislators and ethnic groups seeking to ban the San Diego Minutemen from the state’s Adopt-A-Highway Program. Okay, so the Minutemen are very close to, if not over, the line when it comes to patriotism bleeding into vigilantism. But is a highway cleanup sponsorship really the hill you want to die on?
The Blue Dog thinks the issue is a a loser since it plays into the hands of the Minutemen. First, protecting the border is a federal issue; let them deal with it. Second, by elevating this in the media, you give the Minutemen unwarranted stature and attention. Third, while we don’t know where the ACLU is on this, there are likely legitimate free speech issues that make a legal battle futile.
CalTrans head Will Kempton summed it up best: “The bottom line is there is no way to deny these folks regardless of how we feel about them.”
The Blue Dog recommends a more intriguing tactic: The Hispanic groups should organize their own set of volunteers to oversee the Minutemen’s clean up effort. Police them like the Minutemen police the border. Break out the video cameras to make sure they do their jobs cleaning up California. That would really get their goat. “Hey you missed that cigarette butt over there. Get the lead out, gringos before that Burger King bag blows away.” There is no telling how much enjoyment could be derived from watching the watchdogs pick up garbage.
Litter is supposedly such an ominous issue confronting California that the state Legislature has introduced a whole package of ludicrous bills intended to combat the problem (more on that in a future post). So if this truly is such a huge crisis facing the state, then let’s turn the Minutemen loose and divert their energy to picking up trash. Meantime, the Blue Dog is going to take a nap on this one. Wake him up when the roads are clean.