Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amendments: By The Numbers

Seeing that so many people have either a very small understanding of the Amendments or the purpose behind each Amendment, I feel it is necessary to discuss each one in detail. There's a lot more to understanding the Amendments than to simply be able to recite them. A big part of understanding an Amendment is to understand the times they were written in as well as the feelings and intentions of the founding fathers that authored the Bill of Rights.

Amendment The First:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

There's a lot more than just freedom of speech here folks. The first thing it speaks of is the subject of religion. Keep in mind the original people to come here to the New World were people seeking freedom from religious persecution. The Old World was all White so segregation took a religious form. If you weren't of a particular religion, you were cast out or persecuted or worse. Needless to say, our founding fathers didn't want people to feel oppressed because of their religious views. The First Amendment doesn't allow Congress to prefer one religion over another. Now some take this to be a "Christians-first" type of law but really it's a ten foot pole rule. In other words, this Amendment basically says "Congress isn't to touch religious issues with a ten foot pole." So that means whatever cards are on the table are the cards that are there and Congress isn't supposed to alter that at all, neither in favor or against a particular religion.

Freedom of speech is the next big thing here. Not too many people disagree with that in general. However, many people seek to silence others simply because they don't agree with the speaker's opinion. Many people tend to amend freedom of speech in their minds to simply say "freedom of speech unless I don't agree with you". People seem most worried that someone who is speaking favorably of an unpopular view might actually get listeners and then what? Sorry, but all speech is free, even the most vile. People can make up their own mind about who to follow. Also, I want to point one great screw-up of the government when the US Supreme Court decided that public safety supersedes free speech. The upheld view was that someone couldn't falsely shout "fire" in a crowded theater because of the risk to public safety. I don't buy that logic. What's the worse that could happen, forty people get trampled to death? Not good enough. Any strike against free speech has the potential to kill the freedom of the entire nation. That's worth more than even a million lives. Public safety be damned!

Freedom of the press. For the most part, our press gets quite a bit of freedom and they have all the lawyers they'll ever need to keep it that way. The internet further ensures this, so long as our government keeps its damn hands off the internet. I've got a sounding board right here and that is a benefit of the First Amendment.

The right of the people to peaceably assemble. Ahhh, yes, the right to protest, rally, etc., so long as we do it nicely. Riots and such are not the ways to demonstrate and some people can't seem to get that through their heads. I love the "Tea Parties" we've been having this year. In many other nations, they'd be driving over us with tanks. If you don't agree with the people assembling, then by all means counter-protest, but don't get violent or try to attack, it only makes martyrs out of the people you seek to vilify. While the restriction is placed against the government in this case, the good patriotic citizen will realize that they too should abstain from breaking up other people's protests through oppressive means.

Petition the Government for a redress of grievances. This means that individuals should be able to access their representatives, and be able to have their say directly before the Government. So if I have a beef with the government I should always have the right to complain to the Government. More importantly, they should listen. That's the forgotten part. A government that listens. What a novel concept.

Be patriotic, folks. Live the words of the Constitution. It's not just about what's best for you, its about what's best for the nation. I've quite often felt that we would be better off if we did this or that or the other thing. However, in the end, I come back to my senses and think What Would Our Founding Fathers Do? We could have chosen a lot of ideals to incorporate into our nation but we didn't and for good reason. Our founding fathers didn't want socialism. They didn't want communism. Think about what you want for us as a nation and then think about whether that desire is in line with our founding fathers. If it isn't, then perhaps its time to humble oneself and realize the best thing for our nation was written on parchment hundreds of years ago.

Tune in next time for The Second Amendment. That will likely be my favorite and it just might shock you.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent post. One of the catch phrases we hear these days is, "they crossed the line" of free speech. Our Founding Fathers never drew such a line.