- Last Updated: 1:01 AM, November 18, 2012
- Posted: 9:56 PM, November 17, 2012
Another gridlock alert for the corner of Idealism and Practicality.
I’ve always admired the American Civil Liberties Union for its ideals. Everyone’s presumed innocent — until they do it a fourth, maybe fifth time. Then, at worst, they’re “a suspect” and the video surveillance tape should not be entered into evidence because it may prove prejudicial to the jury.
Still, I get and support, in the broadest sense, what the ACLU stands for: justice and defense, even for the unjust and indefensible. It can be a rotten, unpopular job, but someone has to do it. And the ACLU gets some things right, thus it rights some wrongs.
On the other hand, the ACLU’s sense of practicality — common sense, street sense — is so lacking that it can’t distinguish a carjacker from a hitchhiker.
That people are hanging out at 3:30 a.m. in front of your home, peeing on your bushes, is just an exercise of their constitutional right to both congregate and naturally eliminate bodily fluids that, if not purged, could cause urinary tract infection.
So I propose a TV reality show starring ACLU lawyers and their loved ones; ACLU lawyers appearing not in courthouses to file legal briefs — by the way, ever see a legal brief that’s brief? — but in real settings they might otherwise not experience.
In other words, how would ACLU folks deal with practical matters if they weren’t abstract matters, if they mattered to their immediate good and welfare?
In one episode, an ACLU lawyer and his/her family can be seen at JFK, preparing to fly to say, London or Berlin, when the head of airport security approaches with a question:
“Would you and your family prefer to take Flight A or Flight B?
“Flight A entails no baggage security screening, no body screenings, no pat-downs. Flight A is so sensitive to personal and civil freedoms that absolutely no kind of profiling is conducted. You and your family just step on board.
“Flight B, however, is very different. It takes time. Anyone who even remotely resembles those commonly arrested around the world as mass-murder-driven terrorists, will be questioned, and in great detail.
“All baggage and all bodies will be inspected for suspicious items, the kind that can result in Flight B being blown out of the sky.
“So which flight would you and your family wish to board, A or B?”
“Really?” asks the ACLU lawyer.
“Dead serious,” answers the security boss.
Right there, of course, a commercial would interrupt, to exploit the drama, hold the audience, like on “Biggest Loser.”
But wouldn’t you stay tuned for that lawyer’s decision? Would it be driven by idealism or practicality?
In another episode, an ACLU attorney and his/her family are moved into a drug-, gun- and gang-infested apartment house and neighborhood.
The deal is that they have to live there for a month, send their kids to the local schools, send them out to play, shop for food, park their car in the neighborhood. Their daily and nightly existence is videotaped.
The show’s cameras and microphones follow the ACLU lawyer as he/she travels to his/her office, from where the ACLU sues the police departments of Newark, New York and Bridgeport for “harassing” young men in crime-ridden neighborhoods only because they look and/or act “suspicious.”
Ya think, after a month — or even a week — in the family’s new digs that the ACLU lawyer’s heart and head would be as devoted to such a task? Think his or her convictions would run as deep?
Would his or her idealism still supersede practicality?
What did that ACLU lawyer think about stop-and-frisk before and after his/her family’s one-month stay? Did he/she still think it violates the civil rights of the suspicious? Or does it serve the rights of the good people in the neighborhood — the good and frightened — to live in civility?
I’d sure stay tuned to find out.