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ACLU Changes Its Website After Being Caught Editing and Distorting the 1st Amendment

We caught them red-handed. Chalk this one up as a win for the good guys.

On January 17, I posted a First Look column titled “The ACLU’s Very Own Constitution.” In it I commented upon an item that I had first been made aware of in a “Best of the Web” column by James Taranto of the Opinion Journal. The subject of my column was how the ACLU had distorted, edited, “censored” the 1st Amendment on its website in order to support its claim that the Framers considered the freedom of speech so important that they put it at the very tip-top of the Bill of Rights.

But now the ACLU has changed its website and completely erased the traces of the old, misleading site. However, we here at HUMAN EVENTS saved a copy of the original page (link is to a pdf copy of the original page).

The language at the top of the ACLU’s “Free Speech” page at the time of my column read as follows:

    “It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ The Constitution√?¬Ę√Ę‚??¬¨√Ę‚??¬Ęs framers believed that freedom of inquiry and liberty of expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society.”

As anyone who has read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is aware, the “first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment” is that of religion. In the ACLU’s 1st Amendment quotation, the freedom of religion is erased, replaced with ellipses. The only reason that the ACLU finds that the “freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment” is because they cut out the 1st Amendment’s two clauses regarding religion. Here’s the 1st Amendment in its entirety:

    “Congress shall make no law RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Since the original posting of “The ACLU’s Very Own Constitution,” the ACLU has changed their website. In place of the distortion of the 1st Amendment on the “Free Speech” page is the following, slightly, but significantly updated and altered text:

    “It is no accident that freedom of speech is protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: ‘Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ The Constitution√?¬Ę√Ę‚??¬¨√Ę‚??¬Ęs framers believed that freedom of inquiry and liberty of expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society.”

The ACLU still doesn’t mention the freedom of religion in its quotation of the first part of the Bill of Rights, but at least the site isn’t utterly wrong.

Call this one a win for the good guys — the ACLU may still be the Leftist organization it has come to be known as, but at least it has been forced to stop this specific distortion of the Bill of Rights.

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