By Beth David, Editor
I know it’s hard for us to agree on things these days. We can’t even agree on the facts to argue about. Can we at least still agree that our country’s greatness comes from our Constitution? The fact that we have a constitution that is the foundation of our laws, is a marvel. That we actually live by it, is also a marvel. Lots of countries have constitutions that are a joke. Not us.
We are a rule of law country. No one is supposed to be above the law. Now, we can argue that we have fallen short on that at times, but basically, we all have to live by the same rules.
The Europeans who got here first were mostly fleeing religious persecution. They wanted to practice the religion of their choice, and not have a religion forced upon them by the government. The revolution happened because the people who lived here were tired of being bullied by a faraway government with one man calling the shots.
So, after drafting our great constitution, which lays out the way the government works, the founders wrote the Bill of Rights, which is the first ten amendments to the constitution.
These rights are the foundation of individual freedom in this country and the foundation of our democracy. They have taken a beating over the decades, especially since the attacks of 911. Our personal freedoms are definitely in danger from government over-reach. But even scarier than that, is the threat from individuals who do not even understand what our constitution, with its Bill of Rights, is all about.
I got a call a couple of weeks ago from a man in his 70s complaining because I put the First Amendment on the cover of this paper. He said it was not “appropriate.”
“Obviously, she’s not too keen about organized religion,” he said of the editor. “But I don’t think that has a place in the paper at the bottom cuz that’s really expressing her views.”
He said it was “offensive to a lot of people.”
“I mean, regardless of what her official religion is or whatever her personal beliefs are, I think she’s really projecting it by,” and then he read the First Amendment.
Then he said he’d like to see it deleted from the front page in the tone of a father telling a 12-year-old to remove a risque poster from the wall.
Where do I begin? The First Amendment is offensive? The bedrock of our entire democracy is offensive? Religious freedom is offensive?
How is it that Americans do not even know what this country is supposed to be about? The First Amendment is not anti-religion. It’s about as pro-religion as it gets. It prohibits government from establishing a religion, which gives religions and their followers the freedom to worship as they wish.
Our founders fled religious persecution. The very first words of the very first amendment were to limit the government from religious interference. Think about that, about how important that was to them.
This has nothing to do with being against organized religion. It has everything to do with stopping government from conrolling which religions individual Americans can practie. How is it that you do not know that?
I cannot believe I have to explain this to people. And it scares me, a lot.
The funny part is that I didn’t even think of religion when I started putting the First Amendment on the cover. I was thinking about free speech and a free press. Which fits in perfectly with another ridiculous encounter I had during the last storm, when I was taking pictures.
This is for the grouchy man on West Island who was snowblowing in a driveway: No, you do NOT have the “right” to tell me I cannot take your picture. You just don’t.
If I can see you from public space, or from a private space that I have permision to be in, I can take your picture even if you are in your yard, and, yes, I can USE it in the newspaper or on social media or anywhere I want to. If you are in public, you do NOT have the right to trample on MY First Amendment rights.
My precious First Amendment is getting all beat up, lately for sure. But right now, it’s still in place. And I will snap away at will.
Until next week then…see ya,
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