Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who defended Chelsea Manning, distanced himself from the organization’s defense of Milo Yiannopoulos Wednesday.
“I don’t believe in protecting principle for the sake of principle,” he stated.
On Wednesday, the ACLU announced its lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in defense of Milo Yiannopoulos’ right to free speech. The organization’s decision has raised the ire of progressives, who equate his mockery of social justice warriors to hate speech — including Strangio.
The ACLU, which has defended the First Amendment rights of thousands of individuals and organizations — including the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam — had finally crossed the line. Strangio claims that Yiannopoulos’ words “exacerbate the many harms that transgender people, people of color, Muslim people, immigrants and others regularly experience.”
Here is my personal statement on today’s ACLU lawsuit defending that horrible person. I speak only for myself. pic.twitter.com/4KzsoqnmUn
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) August 9, 2017
“Though his ability to speak is protected by the First Amendment, I don’t believe in protecting principle for the sake of principle in all cases,” Strangio wrote. “His actions have consequences for people that I care about and for me. The norms that we establish through the people we validate, contribute to the disturbingly common attacks on Black people, immigrants, trans people, women and others.”
“And yes, the First Amendment is critical in protecting the ability of marginalized communities to protest, mobilize and build power. But it has already been eroded for those communities,” Strangio added.
Ironically, Strangio’s dispute against the ACLU’s stance will only erode the First Amendment that much further. Should Milo lose his right to free speech, so too will everyone else whose words are deemed too dangerous by those in power.
“The ACLU has a long history of representing despicable people in the service of protecting valuable First Amendment principles and in some cases I support decisions that have been made and in other cases I do not. Here I do not,” Strangio wrote, speaking of the ACLU’s lawsuit for Yiannopoulos, which also includes the ACLU, PETA, and abortion medication provider Carafem.
Naturally, Strangio received something of a backlash by refusing to fight for the First Amendment.
Many pointed out how deeply his comments contrasted with ACLU director James Esseks’ support of Yiannopoulos. Esseks’ letter pointed out that preserving Yiannopoulos’ rights were crucial to the preservation of free speech for everyone —including the minorities to whom Strangio virtue signals.
In response, Strangio, who is white and presents as a man, complained about “white dudes” who “mansplained” the Constitution in their responses.