This is a post to let the world know I want to buy the sheet music for the song “Takin’ a Slow Burn” from the popular 1953 Columbia Pictures movie “Let’s Do It Again.” This was a lightweight, slinky, sexy jazz musical featuring Jane Wyman, post-divorce from Ronald Reagan, about the delicious misfortune of falling for a cheating loser (can I get a “hey,” ladies?”).
I wrote an introduction to the Greater Lafayette ACLU, as we’re getting a ton of attention after the 2016 general election. People panicked about threats to civil liberties want to know how to contribute to local efforts.
The Greater Lafayette ACLU feeds into the Indiana ACLU, which is supported by the national ACLU. We support the IN-ALCU by helping to amplify state efforts, educate the public about our activities, and raise funds for litigation costs. Our responsibilities are as follows:
The GLACLU funds educational initiatives in Greater Lafayette and supports the state ACLU’s research, education, and litigation efforts.
The Indiana ACLU brings cases against government entities on behalf of Hoosiers whose rights have been curbed by anti-Constitutional laws brought within the state. Led by Jane Henegar and litigated by Bloomington attorney and professor Ken Falk, the Indiana chapter has an extremely successful record of litigation. Recent victories include:
In “Welcome to Leith,” a documentary about a tiny North Dakota town with a population of 24 (“including children,” the residents boast), the residents explain how they usually bent over backwards to welcome new neighbors to the area. Then they discovered that the new guy in the neighborhood, who was buying up property and inviting others to join him there, was a nationally-recognized white supremacist leader who planned to take over little Leith, North Dakota, drive out the existing residents, and create a white nationalist mecca.
The award-winning documentary, streaming on Netflix, follows white supremacist Craig Cobb‘s attempt to take over the town, and how the township organizes in resistance. Local residents and anti-racist organizations organize a protest in Leith against Cobb and his allies, and strategize a mixture of legal and municipal methods to force the case against Cobb.
First amendment and social justice tensions are real, and this movie skates over them to declare victory for the townspeople, which is understandable given the content. There is no first amendment exception for “hate speech” — Americans are free to criticize and say any hateful thing they wish about others, in just the same way you may criticize capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans. The arguments for and against the creation of a “hate speech” category are rich and nuanced (and way over my head), but however you land on the issue, the first amendment doesn’t protect provocateurs and demagogues from criticism or disapproval. A high-minded civil libertarian argument becomes more difficult when you have a heavily armed white nationalist patrolling the boundaries of your neighborhood and threatening to turn your town into a hotbed for white nationalist movements from around the world. Which begs the question of the viewership: what will you do when you see Leith in your own communities?
About Lauren Bruce
Lauren Bruce is the founder of the award-winning blog Feministe, and co-founder of local magazine Think Lafayette (RIP 2011-2016). She loves Twitter, bikes, kids, animals, cooking, yarn, gardening, politics, and the auction hustle. For more, see her bio and greatest hits.