I joined the ACLU several years ago. I could claim that it was naive optimism, that I sincerely believed in their commitment to defending the Bill of Rights — but I couldn't sell that fiction if I tried, so I'll be honest and confess that I wanted bragging rights. I was looking forward to the next argument where some liberal muppet would accuse me of betraying personal liberties, and I'd slap my ACLU card down onto the table and look smug.
I think I'd been watching too many Westerns on cable that week. Maybe I wasn't getting enough sleep. Either way, it was a dumb idea; and by the time I realized that, I was out $35.
For the next year, I was flooded with letters urging me to "stop Ashcroft" from passing various laws. (Apparently the ACLU hasn't been briefed on the separation of powers.) When the time came to renew, an enthusiastic fellow telephoned me and said the ACLU needed my donation to be ready "to defeat Bush in 2004."
I declined. When they called back, I repeated my answer. In the years since, I've politely asked at least a dozen times to be removed from the ACLU's mailing list. I've submitted two requests in writing. The calls and letters keep coming. Just last week, I got another.
Be forewarned. If you understand the ACLU's charter and you agree with its mission, then by all means, write a check. But make no mistake: It's a heavily partisan organization that abuses its legal status as a tax-exempt charitable organization to keep hounding individuals despite repeated requests to desist. Once you get on its list, you'll never get off.