Thursday, January 17, 2008

It Has Come to This

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.
The First Amendment to the the Constitution

When people think of the First Amendment, many think of the freedom to have and speak your opinion or the freedom to worship as you like. If you ask some more knowledgeable people out there, you might even get someone to tell you about your right to associate with whom you please. How all of that translates into crucifixes dipped in urine, or the ACLU stopping a prayer by players before a football game is something to be saved for a different post.

What is obvious to me is that the First Amendment was designed to specify and preserve actions that individuals may participate in which do not necessarily have the interests of the State in mind. In fact, I would say that the First Amendment is geared to preserve and protect activities that are critical of the government itself. That's why stuff like McCain-Feingold is such a POS piece of unconstitutional legislation and John McCain should be run out of office for that. The fact that he's even in the running for President is quite distressing to me.

Getting back to my point, a press that isn't just a mouthpiece for the government shouldn't have to worry about retribution if it publishes pieces that are critical of the government. Or me as an individual shouldn't have to worry about what church I go to (and what morals it may instill in me, like big government is evil) or with whom I choose to associate with ( supermodels, Constitution freaks and computer nerds).

But what about that last clause of the Amendment? If read devoid of all the other distinct clauses, it says "Congress shall make no law respecting the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances" Which I translate as: a group of citizens has a problem with the government; it wants the government to address or respond to that problem.

A response of substance from the government to the "petition" isn't just implied but obligatory and should be obvious. You would think.

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1 comment:

Conservative Belle said...

Very thoughtful post.