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charlottesville aftermath

The ACLU is weighing whether 'some free speech isn't worth defending' after Charlottesville

The question of if "some speech isn't worth defending" is dividing members of the American Civil Liberties Union after protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, left one person dead earlier this month, The Associated Press writes. "I won't be a fig leaf for Nazis," tweeted one board member of the ACLU's Virginia branch after resigning:

The ACLU controversially helped convince a judge to allow the march in Charlottesville, which was attended by neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and white supremacist groups. Virginia's governor, Terry McAuliffe (D), blamed the ACLU for creating a "powder keg" in the city.

Others in the organization have doubled down on the ACLU's longstanding values, AP reports. "If you can't stomach respecting the First Amendment rights of people you despise, you don't work here," said an ACLU associate director, Stacy Sullivan.

In the days just before the Charlottesville march, the ACLU had also controversially sued the Washington, D.C., transit system on behalf of a number of groups and individuals, including alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos. "We did not take this decision lightly. We understand the pain caused by Mr. Yiannopoulos' views," the ACLU wrote at the time. "We also understand the principles we seek to defend … that government can't censor our speech just because it doesn't like what we say."