Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Bill of Rights- The First Amendment

Hello everyone out there. We seem to be at a difficult point in the US. Many people are talking about rights being taken away and people being treated unfairly. Some of the things that you all are angry about are not actually things to be angry about. I mean, y'all are individuals and can be mad about anything that you want, but you are mad about something that is beyond your control and none of your business. 

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.

  1. Religion- we cannot base laws upon religion, religious belief, or religious interpretation.
    1. Establishing a law based on the Christian religion with God or religion as the basis establishes Christianity as the national religion. 
      1. The interpretation of the US as a Christian nation is inaccurate. 
        1. 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
        2. 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. 
        3. 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.
  2. Freedom of speech or of the press
    1. 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. 
    2. 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. 
  3. Peaceable assembly means that I cannot stop you from congregating. 
    1. 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. 
  4. Finally, petition the government for a redress of grievances.
    1. 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. 
In a nutshell, I can't tell you what to do based upon religion. The reason something is allowed or not, cannot be "God says so." It can be the reason you do or do not participate, but it cannot be the reason everyone can or no one can. Therefore, I cannot prevent LGBTQ individuals from marrying, using a restroom, buying a house, or purchasing a cake. If I am a business, I cannot prevent people from using my services based on religious principle. If I am a church, I can, but only because the individual is choosing to practice my religion, and I can say that is not the way the religion is practiced. I cannot make you speak, nor can I stop you from speaking. Speech can include gestures, writing, or other methods of communication. I cannot stop you from sitting during the anthem, nor can I compel you to say the anthem. If you don't like me, you can tell anyone you choose, and as long as telling them doesn't interfere with my life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness, I can't stop you. You cannot spread false rumors that keep me from being employable or obtaining housing, but you can tell anyone you like that you don't like me and why. Anyone can congregate, as long as they aren't violating the law. Women wanna march? Okay. Men wanna march? Okay. Bigots wanna march? Okay. Here's the thing: anyone can hold a meeting, rally, march, or anything else. Anyone else can march "against" them. As long as no one breaks the law, they can stand and argue all day. Lastly, we can petition the government, march for change, and ask that new laws be written. This one is a little frustrating, because it is interpreted in such a manner, that lobbies are okay. I am not so sure that lobbies in Washington are what we need. It doesn't matter how I feel about the right, it is there. 

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. 

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