In a more rational time in our history, our country's founding fathers were more concerned about the corrupting influence of governmental power than they were with making sure there were no performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Because of this rational concern one of the first and most important things our federal legislature did was pass a set of constitutional amendments aimed strictly at limiting government power.
It was a great idea. Unfortunately, they forgot to include an 11th amendment that went something like "No, really. We really mean it. You can't do the stuff that these first 10 amendments say you can't do. Really. Seriously, just stop it."
With a complicit congress, our last few presidents have done a pretty good job of telling Bill of Rights to sod off. Let's review, shall we?
- Free speech – Today you can be thrown in jail for videotaping your sister's birthday, or fined into poverty for endorsing a product on your blog. Hurray for free speech!
- Bear arms – In a lot of places, you can still legally own a gun (at least for another year or two). Of course, "bearing" it will usually get you tossed in jail. Or worse.
- No quartering – This is probably the only right that Americans still have intact. 1 for 3! Huzzah!
- No unreasonable search – Oh sure, but what's a little domestic spying among comrades?
- Due process – I guess you could say that the city of New London, Conn., went through due process before condemning, confiscating, and destroying Suzette Kelo's home at the request of a large pharmaceutical corporation. Of course, you would totally be wrong despite what the Supreme Court says.
And don’t even get me started on the whole red light camera scam.
- Speedy trial – I wonder what the kind gentlemen at Guantanamo Bay would say about this.
- Civil trial by jury – With the low level of education in this country, I'm not so sure this is a right you would want to exercise. Besides, with the country simultaneously becoming both a police state and a nanny state, this one probably won't last long.
- No cruel punishment – Well, unless you happen to be a "enemy combatant."
- Rights not enumerated – Just to review, the founders were saying that, just because we're layin' it down that we have these rights in these 10 amendments, don't assume that we don't also have other rights that we haven't mentioned. Like, maybe, the right to keep the money we earn at our jobs.
- Powers of States and people – Again to review, the founders are saying that if the Constitution doesn't say the Federal government can do something, then the Federal government can't do it. For example, neither the constitution nor any of the amendments thereof mention anything about spending $650 million to make sure everyone has a digital television converter box.
tagged: Bill of Rights, America, Constitution, Founding Fathers, democracy, history, government