ACLU Not So Sure If It’s Going To Help The KKK Adopt Georgia Highway

After a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was denied its application to be part of Georgia’s adopt-a-highway program, the group is turning to an unlikely potential ally — the American Civil Liberties Union. It seems the ACLU is slightly uneasy about helping the KKK, but not because of the group’s beliefs. The ACLU isn’t sure if the KKK’s freedom of speech has been violated or not.

“We are considering next steps and whether or not we will support the group,” said Debbie Seagraves, executive director for the ACLU of Georgia, reports CNN. “We know this is unpopular,” she added.

If the ACLU decides to help the KKK it will be based on legal precedent. It’s happened before in another case in Missouri, where a court ruled that the state had discriminated against the KKK when it tried to participate in a program that was supposed to be open to any group.

“It’s clear and understandable that the message of the KKK is offensive and hurtful to many people, but when you cede the power to the state to decide whose speech is objectionable, we give it up,” Seagraves said.

The International Keystone Knights of the KKK wants to adopt a part of Georgia State Route 515 in Union County to clean it up, and filed an application on May 21. It was rejected in its bid earlier this week, with the state’s Department of Transportation saying it was because officials determined the mountain roadway wasn’t a safe place for cleanup volunteers to work.

And also:

“The impact of erecting a sign naming an organization which has a long-rooted history of civil disturbance would cause a significant public concern,” he wrote. “Impacts include safety of the traveling public, potential social unrest, driver distraction or interference with the flow of traffic.”

Even though the ACLU hasn’t taken on the case yet, Seagraves pointed out a few problems with the DOT’s reasoning: if the speed limit is the problem, the program is supposed to find another, safer place to adopt. And, the state can’t deny speech just because of what others might do in reaction.

KKK wants ACLU help to adopt highway [CNN]

Comments

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  1. ole1845 says:

    The KKK still exists? Oh, wait, it’s Georgia.

  2. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    The KKK took my litter away

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      I don’t know where my litter could be – e. They took it from me. They took it from me!

  3. humphrmi says:

    The story has been overblown. The KKK has already adopted highways in many states (I posted about one I found in Texas over ten years ago). The problem is that the KKK wants to adopt a specific highway, and that highway is not eligible for adoption because the speed limit on it is too high. So the KKK is using the rejection – on the basis of safety of the volunteers – to make a big deal about “Oh, we’re the KKK so we can’t adopt a highway!” which is pure BS, they adopt highways all over the south.

    • TuxMan says:

      If that is the reason, than no group can adopt it and no rights violated.

      So, they can just pick another highway in Ga.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        The program must locate another suitable stretch of highway for them to adopt, and suggest it as an alternative.

        That’s part of the program.

        If they don’t want to fulfil the state’s part of the bargain because they don’t like the KKK, that’s a clear free-speech violation.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Yes, this is a fairly old story, revived because people haven’t been thinking about the KKK enough.

      http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/outrage/rosapark.asp

  4. ExistentialThreat says:

    Maybe the Black Panthers can adopt the mile before and after them

    • RvLeshrac says:

      No problem, as long as they clean up the highway.

      Unless you mean “So they can harass the KKK cleanup crew,” because that would be proving the KKK’s point, and not actually helping.

      • Velkyr says:

        While hate groups are despicable, I don’t think that should prevent them from doing public service (Where they won’t get paid), as long as they don’t use that to disrupt others.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to. . . ooops, wait a second; actually your rights to freedom of speech have not been violated. Thank you for playing, please come again.

  6. crispyduck13 says:

    I’ve got to give it to them, they know how to work the system in their favor.

    As much as I despise what they stand for, the state can’t make the decision to discriminate against them. WBC is allowed by law to picket funerals (on public property). Until someone figures out how to finangle the law to stop them, unpopular shit like this will keep happening. Even a vote is not valid here, you can’t let people vote on an issue regarding constitutional rights and freedoms (see Prop 8).

    How about the state let’s them do it, and then puts up a billboard along the same stretch advertising equality/peace/love whatever. Guarantee a billboard would be a lot more noticable than those tiny little adopt-a-highway signs.

    • Sneeje says:

      You’re right, except that Prop 8 isn’t a great example. Perhaps you and I agree that gay marriage should be allowed, but there is no general consensus whatsoever that it is a fundamental constitutional or human right.

      Marriage is a cultural construct that is deeply associated with religious beliefs as well. One could equally argue that the government shouldn’t recognize any marriage. Civil unions, perhaps, but that would be a matter of fairness or equality.

      The pursuit of happiness is not a good justification either–there are plenty of ways the government restricts our pursuit of happiness on a daily basis.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        there are plenty of ways the government restricts our pursuit of happiness on a daily basis.

        You’re right about that. The $15k a year they take in taxes sure does restrict my happiness :)

        • chargernj says:

          Move to Somalia, I hear they have no taxes.

        • Jules Noctambule says:

          I find my happiness enriched by knowing that the police, fire department and ambulance will come to my house or any other building to assist me in times of distress, and I can freely partake in city parks and drive on paved roads thanks to the taxes I pay, but to each their own!
          :)

          • rmorin says:

            Unless you are really poor your largest tax contribution is going to be towards the federal government which has minimal, if any funding of the services you mention.

            The largest single portion of federal spending is defense. Considering your posts lean pretty far left, It’s sort of confusing why you would laud the current tax/expenditure model.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Man, I remember when people thought the same backwards bullshit about letting blacks and whites marry. Remember? Because the state and religious groups like the KKK believed that blacks didn’t have any rights other than what they were given, it says so in the bible.

        • partofme says:

          It says so in the bible written by the KKK and edited by RvLeshrac.

          FTFY.

          • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

            No. It says in the bible that it’s totally cool to own people from neighboring tribes. It’s one of those parts that people who use the bible to deny Gays the right to marry conveniently forget. Along with the eating of shellfish, cutting the hair around the temples, and planting two crops in the same field.

            • partofme says:

              …you haven’t talked to me much, have you? I’ve spent too many threads pointing out what people like you forget about the passages you think are absurd. Perhaps you could go back to the JCPenney article. It’s fairly recent. There, you’ll see it laid out that you actually have to do a little work before trying to blindly apply to our situation rules that were simply the attempt of a different people with a different culture in a different historical situation. Not only have some factors explicitly changed (I’ve spoken before about how we don’t have a physical tabernacle as the seat of god on this earth, so many of the rituals and rules involving the rituals don’t apply… or how people don’t make it a habit to walk around on roofs here, so we don’t require that they all have hand railings)… but some of the things they did were flat out wrong (again, I mentioned Jesus in Matthew 19 talking about how they went the wrong way on divorce). It’s definitely not, “I think a cursory reading of a couple verses sounds ridiculous… therefore…”

              Of course, since you’re trotting out terrible examples and assuming that I’ve just never heard them before or must be ignoring them, we’re probably not going to have a very fruitful discussion.

        • Sneeje says:

          Maybe you misunderstood you post before you got all judgmental. I believe same-sex couples should be treated as equals to opposite-sex couples. All I’m saying is that “marriage” is not a civil right. Discrimination is, but marriage is not.

          Civil and human rights exist, by definition whether the government recognizes them or not. Legal marriage is a cultural construct and, in our society, only exists because the government says it does. By that definition, it can’t be a civil right.

          If it is, then be prepared for polygamists to demand their civil rights too.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          This. The last Jim Crow laws were completely stopped in 1965. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was only 48 years ago. Many people who are alive now lived in a time when blacks couldn’t even drink from a water fountain that white people drank from. They lived in a time where a white person would always get a good job over a black. They grew up with that mentality, and it still exists in our society.

      • incident_man says:

        Don’t forget that marriage is not necessarily a religious function; it is a LEGAL contract between two people. Otherwise, Justices of the Peace would not be able to perform the LEGAL ceremony, without any religious connotation whatsoever. That’s how my wife and I got legally married: By a Justice of the Peace, not a minister or reverend……and it’s just as binding and legal as if it were done in a church.

        Based upon that, marriage is a CIVIL right and not a RELIGIOUS right, and, therefore, subject to all the civil protections of the law, which include the prospect of same-sex marriage. If you doubt that, reference all CIVIL rights, from the Bill of Rights and the 13th Amendment through the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

        Civil rights shall not and are not subject to a vote of the people; they are undeniable rights granted by the Constitution of the United States, regardless of how a group of people feel about it. We live in a representative Republic with Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms, not a democracy driven by the tyranny of the majority.

        • Sneeje says:

          This is the problem–it isn’t a RIGHT. Saying it is a civil right doesn’t make it so. For me to see your point of view, I need to see your explanation of your definition of the scope of civil rights and why “marriage” is part of them.

          People form unions that are recognized either under the church or the state or both. People can form unions regardless of whether the church or the state recognize them.

          What we’re debating is whether or not one type of union (there are heterosexual, polygamist, homosexual, possibly more) is a right. I personally don’t see it, but I also see no reason to restrict it. What does bother me is how, if it is a right, we can restrict some types of marriage but not others.

        • edman007 says:

          If you look at how it started, it’s simply not that clear cut. There are two things, relegions have the right to marry people, deny as they see fit, etc. and the goverment has no need for marriages but wants to control rights between people within familes who have no blood relation (and are thus not otherwise a relative). Thus long ago the goverment took on the job of recognizing marriages using the existing rules created by relegions, this allowed them to write laws that treat married people differently (like taxes).

          It’s only recently that people really recognized that these two things don’t line up (and did something about it). And people now consider the goverment to be the ones in control of marriage when the old laws were never written that way (look at all the common law marriage laws, they just wrote the law so people who got married were automatically recognized as such, with zero goverment intervention). Trying to reverse the goverments decision is now very difficult, because you are trying to seperate two things that never should have been together in the first place, and in doing that you have to draw lines and they are going to offend someone no matter how you do it.

      • ARP says:

        Umm…marriage is considered a fundamental right. Read Loving v. Virginia.

        “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

        • Sneeje says:

          I stand corrected.

        • Sneeje says:

          Although interestingly, that would seem to support polygamy.

          This is where I’m getting hung up–if marriage itself is a fundamental civil right, then the government should have no right whatsoever to restrict it. It should be available to all consensual peoples. The government should have to recognize whatever marriage is brought before them.

          • justhypatia says:

            You don’t seen to understand what civil rights are, or rights in general, at least in the way that they are understood by the government of the United States.

            Just because something is a basic right that doesn’t mean that laws won’t restrict it in some situations.

            The right to life is the ultimate right. I’m sure that will be a great comfort to the over 3,000 inmates who are on death row right now.

            You have the right to free speech, unless you incite violence or panic, or the f-word during primetime.

            You have the have the right to practice your religion, unless your religion involves marrying more than one person.

            You have the right to vote, if you’re 18, and you are not currently incarcerated and you have enough identification to prove your identity and address.

            And so on and so forth… is this getting any clearer to you? There is no such thing as an absolute right so the fact that there are some legal limits on marriage does not change the fact that it too, is a right.

  7. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    If the speed limit is the problem, Ga better be able to show that NO stretch of any road with that limit is the problem. If there are other similar roads with similar speed limits that are adopted, then the ACLU better take up the case.

    I may disagree with your speech, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

  8. Power Imbalance says:

    If it were any other hate-group (Black Panthers/etc.) the ACLU would be tripping all over themselves to take up the cause. However, I hope they do take this case.

  9. FatLynn says:

    Can’t they just give them a really windy stretch of highway and raise the speed limit to 95 on days they are doing the clean-up?

    • Here to ruin your groove says:

      That’ll teach them for having different beliefs than me!

      • Nikephoros says:

        It’s less about “differing beliefs” and more about being “the largest terrorist organization in North America.”

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    So, they helped a Missouri chapter for the exact same situation, but this time is different?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      No. Fuck. Is logic completely fucking dead?

      in Missouri, they were denied the application BECAUSE THEY ARE THE KKK.

      in Georgia, they have been denied the application FOR SAFETY REASONS. If the state locates a different stretch of highway for them, or the KKK presents a different stretch of highway, there may not be an issue. If they CONTINUE to be denied, there will be a lawsuit.

      • FatLynn says:

        I think the reason the ACLU is uncertain what to do here is that, even if it were a different stretch of highway, the quoted part of the decision would still apply.

        So, if you deny the KKK the right to participate due to safety issues like “driver distraction” associated with their participation, is it the same as denying them because they are the KKK? It’s really splitting hairs, but many legal decisions do.

        The state can reasonably argue that they have a compelling interest in preventing safety issues on its highways.

        • Coleoptera Girl says:

          I can’t help but wonder why they don’t give the KKK another stretch of road and simply not erect the sign, quoting it as being for the safety of the cleanup crew… Everybody wins, if the KKK actually just wants to clean up the sides of a road.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        is logic completely dead? In your case it appears to be.

        “The impact of erecting a sign naming an organization which has a long-rooted history of civil disturbance would cause a significant public concern,” he wrote. “Impacts include safety of the traveling public, potential social unrest, driver distraction or interference with the flow of traffic.”

        “Seagraves pointed out a few problems with the DOT’s reasoning: if the speed limit is the problem, the program is supposed to find another, safer place to adopt. And, the state can’t deny speech just because of what others might do in reaction.”

  11. JohnDeere says:

    i dont see this terrorist group as being any different than al queda. i guess if these ass hats can adopt a highway than so should al queda.

    • Here to ruin your groove says:

      I’m not well-versed on modern KKK actions, but what/who have they burned/blown up/killed lately?

      • JohnDeere says:

        just b/c they’ve taken a little time off doesnt make them good. im sure their are members of al queda that lead normal lives.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Those abortion-clinic bombers that bomb in the name of Jesus are terrorists, too, right? So we should prohibit all religious speech.

          Or, you know, you can learn how to properly respect the freedoms we have in this country. If you disagree with the most basic concepts enshrined in the Constitution, you’re free to get the hell out.

          If we can’t provide the same rights to the worst of us that we provide to the best of us, we’re no better than North Korea.

          • Kavatar says:

            My hyperbole sensor is picking up strong readings from this post.

          • JohnDeere says:

            that was exactly my point. thank you.

          • Coleoptera Girl says:

            Um, abortion clinic bombers ARE terrorists. They’re trying to frighten people away from getting/giving/supporting abortions by threatening their lives if they come physically close to an abortion clinic. How is that not terrorism?
            Granted, I’m not saying that all religious speech should be banned because of this. All acts of terrorism should be (and are?) illegal, whether they be religious or not.

            I’m not sure that the KKK still qualifies as a terrorist group, though… I’d have to dig and see what they have and have not been up to.

        • El_Fez says:

          The problem is, Al Queda is a shadowy underground illegal organization. The Klan is a legitimate, recognized – if incredibly distasteful – organization recognized by the government. If they are legal organization, then they deserve protection under the law.

  12. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Goodbye civil liberties. (Thats ok, we weren’t using them anyway.) I have this shirt!

  13. jedipunk says:

    Let them adopt. Invite victims of the world view to litter.

  14. MCerberus says:

    The state of Georgia can just point to Missouri and say that the adoption just isn’t worth the constant vandalism that comes when the KKK adopts some highway.

    They put up some cameras, people just didn’t care and MoDoT gave up after the fifth sign.

  15. Mackinstyle1 says:

    If the ACLU does it, have them commit nothing but black lawyers to the job. Then they owe their adopted highway to people of colour with a higher education. Win.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      You’ve mistaken the KKK for Neo-Nazis.

      The KKK believes they are superior to blacks, they simply believe they have a right not to be forced to associate with them. Neo-Nazis won’t work with a black man. Klansmen will work with him, they’ll just be insulting and degrading.

      Also, when you do shit like that, you prove them right.

  16. mikedt says:

    Anti-ACLU people love this stuff (of course anit-ACLU people generally agree with the Klan). It’s a case where the ACLU is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I’m glad I’m not put in the position of having to legally defend views I find abhorrent.

    • pk says:

      Sorry but that’s just not true. I am anti-ACLU but couldn’t be further from agreeing with the KKK.

  17. buddyedgewood says:

    Talk about double standards! Bet they wouldn’t have that same doubt if the NAACP wanted to adopt a highway!

    ;-)

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The smiley at the end of your post doesn’t make you any less a sack-of-shit racist.

    • Kavatar says:

      You’re…seriously comparing the KKK to the NAACP? Even the KKK themselves were smart enough to give a less insensitive comparison (Black Panthers).

      • buddyedgewood says:

        duh… of course I’m not serious. Damn, you people are quick to judge… kinda like the KKK!

  18. Bsamm09 says:

    We should burn a lower case “t” on the ACLU’s lawn to tell them it’s “time to take on this case”. If that doesn’t work we will dress up like ghosts to scare them into taking up the case.

    If all that fails we will them burn a capital “T”. That should do the trick.

  19. RandomLetters says:

    International Keystone Knights… I can only hope they are just as competent as the Keystone Cops.

  20. pk says:

    “the group is turning to an unlikely potential ally — the American Civil Liberties Union.”

    How is the ACLU and “unlikely ally”?? They love helping assholes, like the neo-Nazi’s who were denied service at a German restaurant in California.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1986-10-23/local/me-7111_1_neo-nazis

    • ARP says:

      They’ve helped rush limbaugh with his medical records issues as well as those who are opposed to school prayer. They’re all over the map as far as ideology goes, because they believe in certain constitutional principles, rather than the typical “it’s unconstitutional because I disagree with it” approach of the SCOTUS and Tea Party.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Hence why they are called the American Civil Liberties Union. They assist in helping with all kinds of civil liberties violations, not just the ones most people agree with. You have to protect the rights of even the crappiest people in society if you want to keep rights safe for the best.

  21. maxamus2 says:

    Yet if a church (which is all about hate speech) were to be denied, many people would be in uproar.

  22. microcars says:

    So cleaning something is now “speech”?

    I don’t want to mow my front lawn, but the city says I have to or I get a ticket!
    My lawn is living commentary on the world we live in. Freedom cannot be trimmed.
    My 1st amendment rights are being violated!

    • humphrmi says:

      Aside from my comment above (this is about the specific highway they wanted to adopt, not the ability of the KKK to adopt one), if they were denying them specifically because they are the KKK, then they are doing that based on their prior or current statements of their beliefs.

  23. yossi says:

    Great, so they can help NAMBLA, but not this group? Fantastic work ACLU

    http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/aclu-statement-defending-free-speech-unpopular-organizations

    • Macaddct1984 says:

      You’re clearly unaware of what the ACLU does and has done. The ACLU has assisted the KKK and plenty of other controversial groups in the past.

  24. Kuri says:

    Their stated reason I don’t like, but how about that they let a highway they adopted go to pot once a name they don’t like was put on it?

  25. Emily says:

    I don’t get why a state’s adopt-a-highway program is considered free speech in the first place. It’s not at all akin to marching in a parade. Why don’t the states just stipulate in the rules for the program that hate speech, profanity and offensive messaging isn’t permitted? There are anti-obscenity rules for getting a vanity license plate… this would seem to be just as straightforward.

  26. gman863 says:

    Am I the only one who sees the irony of litter being picked up by White Trash?

  27. abz_zeus says:

    Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Voltaire, Lincoln, Sherman, Grant I’m sure other can come with more names for the highway….

  28. reybo says:

    Actually the ACLU is the most likely ally in the country to take cases like this.They have a long history of taking up cases where government discriminates against a person or group because of what they stand for. That’s why the ACLU exists.

    Evidently the writer is unfamiliar with the ACLU. Google Skokie and you can read about the ACLU defending the right of American nazis to march through a Jewish neighborhood. They lost thousands of members and financial support when they took that case, since Jews are the backbone of the ACLU.

    Popular ideas need no defender. It’s the unpopular ones that pit ordinary people against our Constitution.

  29. reybo says:

    Actually the ACLU is the most likely ally in the country to take cases like this.They have a long history of taking up cases where government discriminates against a person or group because of what they stand for. That’s why the ACLU exists.

    Evidently the writer is unfamiliar with the ACLU. Google Skokie and you can read about the ACLU defending the right of American nazis to march through a Jewish neighborhood. They lost thousands of members and financial support when they took that case, since Jews are the backbone of the ACLU.

    Popular ideas need no defender. It’s the unpopular ones that pit ordinary people against our Constitution.

  30. reybo says:

    Actually the ACLU is the most likely ally in the country to take cases like this.They have a long history of taking up cases where government discriminates against a person or group because of what they stand for. That’s why the ACLU exists.

    Evidently the writer is unfamiliar with the ACLU. Google Skokie and you can read about the ACLU defending the right of American nazis to march through a Jewish neighborhood. They lost thousands of members and financial support when they took that case, since Jews are the backbone of the ACLU.

    Popular ideas need no defender. It’s the unpopular ones that pit ordinary people against our Constitution.

  31. No Fat Chicks says:

    The only group worst than the KKK is the ACLU !!!