Thoughts on Skokie


The gravamen of the ACLU position in the Skokie case is contained in David Goldberger’s assertion that”. . . the nazis are not the real issue. The Skokie laws are the real issue.” As Mr. Goldberger’s letter points out, the Skokie ordinances required that anyone wishing to speak,parade, or demonstrate had to (1) convince the village officials that the proposed action would not denigrate others or incite hostility and (2) post an insurance bond of $350,000. In effect, then, the Skokie ordinances prohibited everyone’s free speech, not only that of the American Nazi party.

I have yet to see a rational, rather than emotional, refutation of this argument. Henry Pachter merely ignores it in his “answer” and substitutes a thesis of his own. According to this thesis, in seeking to defend a “form,” Mr. Goldberger and the ACLU have neglected “the substance of democracy.” Writes Mr. Pachter, “We must defend the substance, not the form of democracy.”


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