Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beating up Bill

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the anniversary of the Bill of Rights was a couple of days ago and nobody noticed.

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?
  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. No quartering – This is probably the only right that Americans still have intact. 1 for 3! Huzzah!

  4. No unreasonable search – Oh sure, but what's a little domestic spying among comrades?

  5. 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.

  6. Speedy trial – I wonder what the kind gentlemen at Guantanamo Bay would say about this.

  7. 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.

  8. No cruel punishment – Well, unless you happen to be a "enemy combatant."

  9. 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.

  10. 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.
So, can we just stop referring to America as a democracy? Or even a democratic republic? I don't know what we are, but it's pretty clear the constitution has about as much authority anymore as an Bannister Mallcop.

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  1. people repeat all these things like mantras-freedom of speech,bill of rights,etc. all of this is being castrated every day to make it as impotent as possible.

  2. Well, of course, you can lay some blame at the feet of our educational system which concentrates on teaching "social justice," i.e. "'Daddy Government'" will provide all" instead of a pride in the liberty, personal autonomy and responsibility held by individuals which caused those dead white guys to give the finger to George III in the first instance.


  3. on No. 2: so where have you seen anyone proposing that anyone is planning on taking away guns. If anything, if the NRA, certain nutso state represenatives and other gun-nuts have their way, you should be able to take yer pistol in to praise peace-loving Jesus soon.

    Oh and "conservative" George W. Bush trashed a lot of these rights, like swift justice, spying on you/us, etc. (Thanks, George!)

    Mo Rage

  4. @PLFOW,

    I guess I got the impression that some people are in favor of taking away guns when they write things like "Round up the guns and take them the fuck away from people, because people are too fucking stupid to be trusted with them."

    But yes, GWB is absolutely part of the problem, as are the public schools and the general culture of child-worship that we are living in (by which I mean that we all want to be children, have things taken care of for us, let somebody else (i.e. the govt) worry about the poor and sick...).

  5. To paraphrase Faith, quit pushin' my motherfuckin' buttons!

    Seriously, I've been framing an End of Year Obama post and intend to touch on much of this, but I will wait --for my family's sake-- to write it until after the holidays...

    Nicely done, by the way.

  6. You lost me at how a bonehead movie theater employee trying to be a moron and prosecuting a twilight fan probably for filming a shirtless werewolf a couple of times as a free speech issue.

  7. Logtar,

    The issue is that you can now be thrown in jail (without a trial, mind you) if your digital point-and-shoot camera (that happens to have a short-video record feature) captures a few seconds of a movie that happens to be playing during your sister's surprise party.

    The police in that scenario should have known better, and if we as a culture had any respect for the Bill of Rights, they would have laughed at the theater employee and walked away.


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