I am going to spend the next few weeks visiting two things, 1. The Bill of Rights and 2. Logical Fallacies. I will have individual posts for each of the amendments in the bill of rights and yet more individual posts for logical fallacies. None of these posts are meant to make you or anyone feel stupid, rather they are to educate you on what these amendments actually say. I will first interpret the meanings of the words as they are, not the judicial interpretation. I may speak a little about the judicial interpretation, but this is mostly to point out what these amendments mean.
The first amendment states: 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.
Things to be taken from this amendment.
- Religion- we cannot base laws upon religion, religious belief, or religious interpretation.
- Establishing a law based on the Christian religion with God or religion as the basis establishes Christianity as the national religion.
- The interpretation of the US as a Christian nation is inaccurate.
- The US is a nation of primarily Christians, but it is not a Christian nation. It cannot be, based on the first amendment to the constitution
- Banning homosexual anything (marriage, adoption, etc.) on the basis that it is a sin establishes the US as a "Christian" nation and therefore cannot be done. It is unconstitutional on the basis that homosexuality is a sin in some denominations.
- The free exercise thereof means that I cannot be required to participate in the traditions, nor can I be required to stop any traditions that are not a direct violation of someone else’s rights (within reason). As a religious institution, I cannot be required to allow two people to be married if it goes against my religious doctrine, but only within the confines of my church or facility. If I am a pastor, I am not required to marry them. I cannot, however, discriminate on the basis of my religion if I own a non-religious based business. It’s not an easy interpretation.
- Freedom of speech or of the press
- Speech includes not speaking either. I am not required to say or pledge if I choose not to. I can say anything I like. I can choose to sit out rather than speak, if I choose.
- The press is also free to print anything they like within reason. I can write a story about how stupid I believe someone to be. I just cannot do anything to interfere with their pursuit of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. If I print that they are a sexual predator, I need to have proof.
- Peaceable assembly means that I cannot stop you from congregating.
- Nazis can congregate. I can’t stop them. Quakers can congregate; I can join them but not prevent them. I cannot dictate who can assemble. That said, when you are assembled, you cannot be violent, destructive, or harm others. Nazis can rally in downtown Greensboro. Hippies can protest next to them. Neither group can harm the other.
- Finally, petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- This means that you can write to, protest to, or request the government revisit a law or change one. It also means that if we have an issue with the way the government is handling things we can ask for a reinterpretation.
That is the thing about any of this—it doesn't matter what you think. You can disagree with someone's response. You can think they are an idiot, a sinner, an entitled little shit, or anything else, but you can't stop them from invoking those rights. Football players taking a knee may enrage military veterans, but it is well within their rights. It is not in the right of owners to fire them for doing so. It is an exercise of free speech. Now, sponsors can pull sponsorship for them doing that, but they cannot lose their jobs. Sponsorship is a contract and contracts can be renegotiated at anytime. Football players are sort of in a special category because they are also on contracts; they cannot be fired for invoking their rights, but they don't have to be offered another contract. They can be offered a lower contract rate, or other recourse may be taken, but they cannot be released for being Americans and invoking their right to kneel. We can stop watching if this makes us angry. We cannot stop them from doing it. I am not defending taking a knee in this post, but I am saying that it is well within their rights.