After record-breaking donations and members, ACLU signs up for the Y Combinator startup accelerator

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The ACLU needs tech ninjas, tech ninjas are there, and Y Combinator has worked with other nonprofits. Their excuse for keeping Theil around is actually right up the ACLU’s alley (lest we forget, the ACLU does support the free speech rights of nazis and hatemongers).

So, okay. Not great, but if one insists on ideological purity, you’re kind of insisting on a practical failure.


I think it’s great. It’s free resources and mentoring for how to turn the ACLU into a first-class digital force, which is something that will be great, if it works.

The idea that the free resources will somehow be tainted by Thiel’s smell… well pecunia non olet.


That’s not an ideological failure. If you only support speech that you like, you do not support free speech at all. There are precious few gray areas in free speech, save only for direct incitement to violence or oppression.


It kind of is.

I mean, supporting Peter Thiel despite what he says and thinks wouldn’t be, but supporting someone who funds lawsuits to drive media sites out of business for publishing true stories is kind of against the whole “free speech” thing.

I mean, I can see the argument about Gawker. I don’t agree with it, but okay. But TechDirt?


I think there’s a disconnect here. I’m talking about supporting a person’s right to free speech, protected by the government, and not necessarily supporting the person speaking, or supporting the ideas he espouses. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one.

“Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” – Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche, February 6, 1770

As for Thiel, while I support his right to criticize his detractors, his attempts to silence them is indeed deplorable. One hopes that will come back to bite him one day.


Elevator pitch: It’s the Uber of AirBNBs of civil liberites with a Zillow twist.


Of course I realize they are a private entity but should Tweeter also be held accountable in this digital age to providing a platform for free speech?

Am I the only who, ignorant of Y Combinator, read the BB headline and immediately became puzzled as to why the ACLU was suddenly getting involved with what sounded like the Space-X of particle physics?

It seems to me it would have been more powerful the other way around. For ACLU to go to Y Combinator and say, “here’s $1 million, we want access to your network on the same terms as people like Thiel: we bring the money and your young entrepreneurs are now beholden to listen to us as we talk to them about how their companies are going to impact society”.

I would give the ACLU double if I knew they were leveraging my donation like that.


No no, that’s right on. See, the accelerator flings the start-ups at each other at high speeds. Then, you read the entrails they leave in the head-in-the-clouds chamber for signs of new, never-before seen, high energy start-ups.


That is a strangely accurate description of how Reddit was created…

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