February 27, 2004,
An old friend of mine once said this about the American Civil Liberties Union: "They're a bunch of whale-saving, criminal-loving pinkos and thank God for them."
This remark nicely summarizes the ambivalence with which many people regard the ACLU. Few organizations dance closer to the very edge of the loony-Left precipice than it does. There seems to be no thug too hardened nor any cause too exotic for the ACLU to champion. At the same time, if America ever were unlucky enough to face a president who decided to remain in the Oval Office past her expiration date, the ACLU would battle her and her junta with every sharp courtroom argument, pointed legal filing, and well-aimed briefcase it could muster.
That said, the ACLU lately has stained the dark side of its reputation through its actions in two cases involving the treatment of vulnerable, young Americans. The ACLU is defending those who abuse children while attacking those who give them moral guidance. This contrast reveals the priorities of today's ACLU.
The Manhattan-based public-interest law firm is defending the North American Man-Boy Love Association in a $200 million civil lawsuit filed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Curley. The Curleys claim that Charles Jaynes was driven by the literature and website of NAMBLA, an outfit that advocates sex between grown men and little boys, reportedly as young as age 8.
Jaynes did not simply read NAMBLA's materials and ponder its message. He and Salvatore Sicari actively sought a boy with whom to copulate. They picked 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley of Cambridge, Massachusetts. They lured him into their car as he played outside his home in October 1997. When Curley resisted their sexual advances, they choked him to death with a gasoline-soaked rag. Then they took the boy's body across state lines to Jayne's apartment in Manchester, New Hampshire. They molested the cadaver and stuffed it into a cement-filled Rubbermaid container. Finally, they crossed state lines again into Maine, whereupon they tossed Jeffrey Curley's remains into the Great Works River, from which it was recovered within days. Jaynes and Sicari were convicted of these crimes in 1998, for which they are serving life sentences.
So why blame NAMBLA? Is it any more responsible for this atrocity than is Vintage Books, the publisher of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita? Imagine that Jaynes and Sicari had read that 1955 novel about a middle-aged intellectual's affair with a 12-year-old girl. What if these two men found an equally young female who they abused and killed, just as they murdered Jeffrey Curley in real life? Putting aside the fact that Lolita is a work of fiction, would Vintage Books face civil justice?
Probably not, nor would NAMBLA if it limited its output to fictional depictions of "man-boy love." It is difficult to pin imaginary crimes on actual criminals who turn make-believe into mayhem.
Within the realm of nonfiction, as revolting as its ideas are, NAMBLA certainly has a First Amendment right to argue that America's laws should be changed to permit sexual relations between adult men and third-grade school boys. Most Americans would disagree vehemently, as well they should. That's called debate. It's the American way.
As ACLU of Massachusetts Legal Director John Reinstein sees it: "Regardless of whether people agree with or abhor NAMBLA's views, holding the organization responsible for crimes committed by others who read their materials would gravely endanger important First Amendment freedoms."
However, as Fox News' Bill O'Reilly noted, there is more at play here than pamphleteering. "According to lawyers familiar with [NAMBLA's] website," O'Reilly explained, "it actually posted techniques designed to lure boys into having sex with men and also supplied information on what an adult should do if caught."
NAMBLA is "not just publishing material that says it's OK to have sex with children and advocating changing the law," says Larry Frisoli, a Cambridge attorney who is arguing the Curleys case in federal court. NAMBLA, he says, "is actively training their members how to rape children and get away with it. They distribute child pornography and trade live children among NAMBLA members with the purpose of having sex with them."
Frisoli cites a NAMBLA publication he calls "The Rape and Escape Manual." Its actual title is "The Survival Manual: The Man's Guide to Staying Alive in Man-Boy Sexual Relationships."
"Its chapters explain how to build relationships with children," Frisoli tells me. "How to gain the confidence of children's parents. Where to go to have sex with children so as not to get caught...There is advice, if one gets caught, on when to leave America and how to rip off credit card companies to get cash to finance your flight. It's pretty detailed."
"In his diary, Jaynes said he had reservations about having sex with children until he discovered NAMBLA," Frisoli continues. "It's in his diary in 1996, around the time he joined NAMBLA, one year before the death of Jeffrey Curley."
The practical, step-by-step advice Jaynes followed goes far beyond appeals to sway public opinion in favor of pedophilia. Such language aids and abets felonious conduct. If such conspiracy results in homicide, it is reasonable for NAMBLA to face civil liability if not criminal prosecution.
Ohio's Court of Appeals found NAMBLA complicit in an earlier child-rape case. NAMBLA's literature, discovered in a defendant's possession, reflected "preparation and purpose," according to the Buckeye State's top bench.
The ACLU has offered material support to those who openly preach pedophilia and arguably encourage kidnapping, rape, and murder. Yet this legal group is energetically hostile to an organization that tries to turn boys into men, with sex alien to the process.
Since 1915, the Boy Scouts have managed land within San Diego's Balboa Park. It has built a swimming pool, a 600-seat amphitheater, and a camping facility that accommodates 300. Camp Balboa serves some 12,000 Boy Scouts annually through daylong events and weekend sleepovers. The Scouts' tie to this land is a 50-year lease offered by the San Diego City Council and signed in 1957. In exchange for their stewardship including private investment for maintenance and development the Scouts hand the city an annual lease payment of $1.00.
This arrangement is too much for the ACLU to swallow. It sued the City of San Diego to expel the Boy Scouts from Balboa Park. The ACLU contends that the Scouts are a religious organization and thus should be dislodged from the facility. Never mind that the Scouts did not bar other groups from using the park. In fact, according to Hans Zeiger, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout who has written about this controversy, Balboa Park hosted last summer's San Diego Gay Pride Festival.
Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones deemed the Boy Scouts a religious organization last July and declared that their involvement with Balboa Park violated the separation of church and state. The ACLU used this ruling to secure a settlement wherein the City of San Diego cancelled the Scouts' lease on the park, even though it did not expire until 2007 and, in fact, was extended in 2001 for 25 years. The ACLU also scored $950,000 in attorneys fees and court costs, thus fleecing taxpayers and deepening its pockets.
San Diego's Boy Scouts are appealing Judge Jones' ruling. A federal judge someday may decide whether or not the Scouts' good deeds will go unpunished.
The ACLU's supporters should contemplate where this organization has placed itself vis-à-vis NAMBLA and the Boy Scouts. The ACLU seemingly believes that everyone deserves a lawyer, no matter how odious his case. Perhaps, although it would be nice to see NAMBLA siphon its own bank account rather than the ACLU's to justify its evil ways. The ACLU decides for itself where to devote its finite resources. Hence, its leaders freely chose to stand with cheerleaders for pederasty while torpedoing those who mentor rather than rape little boys.
Today's ACLU makes one wish it would find some whales to save.