Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My Fellow Americans, Learn Your Damn History.

I was listening to C-Span’s The Washington Journal this morning and they were discussing Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers’ religion, and if her religion makes her more or less qualified to serve as a judge. That topic aside, several of the callers kept repeating some tired old lines, regurgitated from religious demagogues, in which they either lie or are misinformed of several of the founding principals of this nation.

So in an effort to educate those who should know better, I will give you all a short history lesson, via the original and first 10 amendments of the Constitution of the United States.

Article 10.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

That means that the Constitution delegates all the powers of federal government. What is not stated there it cannot do. All other powers are to be held by the States, or by We the People.

Article 9.
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Huh? It’s like this my humble readers. We the People are the only ones who have the power, and have the rights…not the government, not the churches, not the corporations and not any other institution. We the People have all the rights. The Constitution does not give us rights, We the People are already endowed by our Creator with EVERY right. The Constitution exists only to limit rights (such as the right to murder your neighbor) that is harmful for us to have. The 9th amendment is simply saying that the rest of the amendments are not the only rights you have, in fact it is just a prohibition on government to take away those certain rights.

Article 8.
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

This should be fairly explanatory. In other words, you’re allowed to prosecute criminals, but you can’t go sadistic on their asses.

Article 7.
“In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

In other words, when you sue somebody or you are getting sued you have the right to a jury, and you can’t sue someone over and over again for the same thing.

Article 6.
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

Despite what the Bush administration would like you to believe, the 6th amendment says if you are charged with a crime you have the right to a trail that is fast. That way you don’t have to worry about being held in a detention center for years on end, waiting for a trail that never comes. You have the right that your trail be public. The jury who decides your case must be impartial, and come from the same area where you come from. In other words a group of rednecks in Mississippi aren’t allowed to judge your fate for a crime you are accused of having done in Maine. You have the right to be told what crime you are being charged with, you have the right to confront the person accusing you of that crime, and have a defense attorney.

Article 5.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

You can’t be held for a major crime unless a grand jury indicts you. You can’t be put on trial twice for the same crime. You can’t be forced to testify against yourself. You can’t be deprived of your freedom or property without a fair trail, and your property can’t be taken from you without you being given money for it.

Article 4.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Conservatives have a really hard time wrapping your brains around this one. To sum this up simply, you have the right to privacy.

Article 3.
“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

Article 2.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The 2nd and 3rd amendments were a compromise between the conservative founding fathers (Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, John Adams) with the liberal founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin). Simply stated, it was an attempt to prevent any standing federal armies during times of peace. That is why it says that a regulated Militia (which today we would call the National Guard), is needed to keep our states secure. And since they are needed for that duty, that National Guard has the right to have guns. However, it was envisioned as all able bodied males to be part of that Militia, much like Israel and Switzerland is today. It does not mean that Joe Six Pack can own a gun, it means if he’s part of the National Guard, he can own a gun. The third amendment was to state that in times of peace those National Guardsmen can’t take over your house without your consent.

And now here are the Conservatives’ favorite to misquote:

Article 1.
“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.”

Since Conservatives never seem to understand this, let’s take it phrase by phrase, starting from the end to the beginning, shall we?

“to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That means if your government fails you, you have the right to tell them so.

“the right of the people peacefully to assemble”

Take a good look Bill O’Reilly. Those “traitor” anti-war demonstrators have the right to peacefully protest.

“or of the press”

You can write whatever the hell you want to write.

“or abridging the freedom of speech”

You can say whatever the hell you want to say.

“or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

That means if you wanna believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe, then you can believe that.

And finally….

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

Read it again closely my young Republicans. You might like to say that “the Constitution gives us the right of freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.” But in reality, it says neither.

Read it again.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

In other words…the very first phrase of the very first amendment of the Constitution of the United States says that CHURCH AND STATE ARE SEPARATE. Got that? Read it one more time.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

There it is in all it’s glory. The separation of church and state clause is right there in black and white. Now, do us all a favor and shut the hell up about how the left wants to “secularize America.” Our founding fathers secularized America 200 plus years ago. Get over it! Move on! And for the love of Christ, please, shut the fuck up!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your analysis of the second amendment is certainly open to debate. I can offer an alternative reading.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

If the founders intended for only the Militia to have arms, why wouldn't this read "the right of the militia to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed"? Why would "the people" in the 1st and 5th amendment mean "everyone" and "the people" in the second amendment mean "people who are paid by the state to be soldiers"?

10:01 AM  
Blogger Alva Goldbook said...

because they really are one in the same, as it was envisioned.

The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed, but the people are still to be formed within a well regulated militia. Like I said, the idea was that every able bodied male would be part of that militia, but it would still be well regulated and controlled by the individual states.

The founding fathers were quite wise when they developed our constitution. Looking over history, they saw that nations were traditional overthrown or controlled by the church (which is why we separated church and state) by "monied incorporations" (such as the problems the colonies had with the British run East India Company), and by military coups.

To protect the nation from a military coup Jefferson attempted to outlaw all standing armies in times of peace (that compromise that is now known as the 2nd and 3rd amendment) and make the highest commander of the military a civilian, namely the president.

It's been a very stable system for that reason. The military would not be able to attempt a coup, it was thought, if there was no standing army, but state run (as opposed to federally run) militias, consisting of all the people, would be the primary force to prevent an outside invasion.

The bottom line is that there is no right in the Constitution to own a gun for "self-defense" or for hunting. It is only there for the "well-regulated militia", which would be consisted of "the people".

Obviously, that is not the case today, as only a minority of our people serve in that capacity, which today would be the National Guard.

Of course, there are people out there, even legal schloars, who both agree and disagree with my conclusion. I think it is evident that the compromise Jefferson made in the 2nd and 3rd amendments make that clear, as it is the most poorly written of all the original amendments. That legal debate we can count on being highly debated for decades to come, as it should be.

Moreover, the constitution is a living document, meaning that it is what we make of it. This is what I, personally make of this particular section, and as a people of a whole, we should continue to do the same, and come to our own individual and educated conclusions.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that every able bodied male is part of the militia is NOT a historical anecdote, it's part of federal law (10 USC 311):

§ 311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

I'm not making any defense of the 2nd based on hunting or on self defense (other than defense against the government). The blog author is arguing that the right to bear arms is not an individual right but a collective right, whereas the simple interpretation is clearly that of an individual right. If you interpret it as a collective right, then militia is well defined by federal law as stated above.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Alva Goldbook said...

well, we're really getting to the point of splitting hairs. All rights, in my view anyway, are both individual and collective. But just to be clear, no, I don't think the 2nd amendment means that just the militia can obtain guns for their members to use. It is the right of the people to obtain guns for those purposes, and it can be you going to wal-mart and buying a gun or it can be your local organization buying a collection of guns for their members. I see no distinction between the two.

2:31 PM  

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