Thursday, December 15, 2022

It's Bill Of Rights Day

     Today's the day we celebrate the first kept promise of the Constitutional Convention: the document might never have been approved at all without the assurance that the new government would add a Bill of Rights as soon as possible.

     These days, most politicians are at least good on the idea that the government shouldn't require you to put up soldiers in your house.  (That's Number Three on the big ten countdown!)

     Aside from that, well, the Dems aren't so happy about the Second Amendment and various parts of the First draw the ire of politicians from both parties, with calls from some of the Right for a de facto (or even de jure) state religion and the Left and Right singing alternate choruses of How Awful The Press Is When They Criticize My Side.  And a whole lot of us, politicians and protesters alike of every stripe and leaning, seem to be skipping over the fine print in "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," forgetting that breaking out windows, kicking in doors, setting fires and putting politicians and the general public to flight does not, in fact, constitute peaceable behavior or even petitioning.  (Burning down a bookstore or stealing a laptop computer isn't speech, it's the exact opposite.)

     Don't even get me started on the Fourth Amendment, pretty much the Rodney Dangerfield of protected rights; "What has it got in its pocketses" appears to be the eternal question of police and grasping politicians, and if you have the temerity to suggest that the right of people "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" ought to be very broadly interpreted, they'll look for ways around it while asking darkly what it is you've got to hide, when the whole point is that it's none of their darned business.

     The entire Bill of Rights is a list of things the government shouldn't be doing or getting in the way of -- and a lot of our law consist of attempts to get around those limits.  The sweeping Ninth and Tenth Amendments are often treated as mere sentiment, and that's a pity.

     Nevertheless, battered and chewed at, the Bill of Rights still stands, a bulwark against the ever-present temptation to use the blunt instrument of government to make other people behave in the manner we personally think they should.  That's not how it works in this country; we got rid of Kings to begin with and did away with masters less than a century later.  Nobody is the overall boss of you -- and that's how it should stay.


Mike V said...

I had a Constitutional Law teacher in college say that the Constitution was a TO DO list for government; and The Bill of Rights was a DO NOT TOUCH list. I thought it very apt.

While we have many in our country on both sides of the aisle to seem to think it their destiny to rule, er govern, us; I agree with what Sgt. Buster Kilrain said to Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin in The Killer Angels: "...The truth is, Colonel... There is no "divine spark". There's many a man alive no more of value than a dead dog. Believe me. When you've seen them hang each other the way I have back in the Old Country. Equality? What I'm fighting for is to prove I'm a better man than many of them. Where have you seen this "divine spark" in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality? No two things on Earth are equal or have an equal chance. Not a leaf, not a tree. There's many a man worse than me, and some better... But I don't think race or country matters a damn. What matters, Colonel... Is justice. Which is why I'm here. I'll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I'm Kilrain... And I damn all gentlemen. There is only one aristocracy... And that is right here.

[points to his head]"

Infidel753 said...

The very fact that so many people object to this or that part of the Bill of Rights is the exact reason we need it. However badly freedom of speech has been eroded here, it's a lot worse in most of the world.