|I just like this shot. Not much else to say.|
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.
Pretty simple, right? You can practice whatever faith you wish, as you wish it. You can say whatever you want, print whatever you want, and get together with as many people as you want, AND write the government to fix itself… right? Well… not really.
1. Let’s start with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” shall we? Is this 100% true? Well, we have no “state sponsored religion,” so yes… right? Not really true, though, and allow me to explain. While not “state sponsored,” many religious organizations in the United States are tax exempt. That’s right… they don’t pay taxes… so there’s a free ride of sorts for religious groups. Note that anything classified as a religion has to be approved by the government for this tax exempt status. You can’t just make up “The Church of Holy Loving Sunshine” and not have to pay taxes on your new church. Therefore, the government is an APPROVER of sorts for religion by being the one that decides whether they are a “qualified religion” for tax exempt status. I don’t like that one bit, but there’s more murky waters here.
This is a hot button for a lot of people, but… I don’t really care. If you are easily triggered, STOP READING. You have been warned. That said, let’s look at DOMA and the wording of the repeal of DOMA. DOMA, the Defense Of Marriage Act, was a piece of legislation that was supposed to protect a marriage as a religious sacrament. But… “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” so WTF? Why in the Nine Hells did the Government make a ruling on a religious sacrament? Then, when it was later repealed, the Supreme Court ruled on marriage, a religious sacrament, which was ALSO a “law respecting (or disrespecting, depending on your viewpoint) an establishment of religion.” So… what the heck? How did this happen?
Well… TAX LAW is why. (That might be why I mentioned it in the first place. NOTE to you, that’s how my mind works. I often bring up a seemingly small point and reference it… a LOT. So, please pay attention. LOL) Marriage, is not JUST a religious term (although is was a sacrament of religion LONG before Jefferson, Madision, et al, put pen to paper for the Constitution and Bill of Rights… so… I would logically argue that marriage BELONGS to religion), but also carries legal protections. So… being LAZY… the government ruled on marriage rather than take the time to define “wedded status” and rewrite the OCEANS of tax law (That we don’t really need, if we get rid of the 16th Amendment… just saying… a National Sales Tax would be MUCH more fair to all, provided that “right to life” items: raw foods, fuel to heat the home, water, etc… are not taxed. NOTE: I am tempted to say common sense things, but some will maintain that internet access is NECESSARY for life. I suppose I will have to spell THAT out at some other time. Maybe I will keep going after the Bill of Rights and get to the 16th Amendment.) we have that mention marriage. In essence, BOTH the legislature (with DOMA) and the Supreme Court (via the wording of the repeal) took the LAZY route and wiped their collective arse with the First Amendment.
No matter how you feel about DOMA and its repeal, the legal precedent set up by both of them, the erosion of the First Amendment (by ruling on a religious sacrament) is a dangerous step towards losing our liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. I mention this as food for thought. Perhaps another ruling on DOMA is required? Perhaps a MANDATE by the Supreme Court to legally separate religion from wedded status, making marriage a religious form of it, and a “Justice of the Peace, Ship Captain, and State Official” presided wedding a civil ONLY form would both work for all, AND respect the religious liberty of the First Amendment? Note that, even if a religious official performs a wedding, you can not claim any tax status for that wedding until it is filed by the state via a marriage license. Thus, the legal framework for what I am proposing is ALREADY in place at the local level… too bad DOMA and its repeal IGNORED the 10th Amendment as well, and didn’t leave it to local authorities. (Perhaps I will have to petition the government for a redress of grievances at a later date to repair the damage the Congress and Supreme Court have done to MY First Amendment AND Tenth Amendment Rights? Perhaps I will write the petition and we can all sign it… perhaps one of you can do it… HINT, HINT… )
2. I’m already not happy with the government’s eroding on the first part of the First Amendment, but… I digress. So, let’s continue with “… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” and explore this too. Is this true? Can you practice any faith, any religious custom in the United States? The answer is NO… or is it? Religious practices that would include human sacrifice are not protected. So the answer is no. But… not really. Let me explain.
The First Amendment, and most of the Bill of Rights if we are honest, deals with a LIBERTY. And the Constitution, via the Declaration of Independence (one of the Constitution’s LISTED SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS… I’ll get to that at another time…), makes it clear that all citizens are to receive “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Note the order, as it is a logical construct. Without Life, one can not enjoy liberty. Without Liberty, one is not free for the Pursuit of Happiness. Thus, logically, a religious liberty (which supports all religions, including ones that kill people) can NOT trump a person’s right to life. Thus, the “Well, you can’t practice a religion that kills people” argument is invalid, logically flawed, or an attempt to further limit the free exercise of religion, or lack thereof. You CAN practice that faith, but you can’t kill people as part of your religious service and say you are exercising your religious liberty. Thus, this part seems to be still in full force and any attempt to claim that the government bans a certain religion is either duplicitous, factually in error, or an outright lie. Let’s just settle this part and say that, as of yet, this part is still 100% true, and the government hasn’t overreached… YET. (Look at what the Patriot Act did to our Fourth Amendment Rights? Yes… I am foreshadowing a later journal. Deal with it.)
3. Now… here we go. Freedom of speech… the FUN ONE to tackle. Freedom of speech is one that a lot of people get wrong. You have the right to say (or comment online as OPINION) whatever you want, UNLESS… you are lying- that is slander- or you are inciting riot or breech of peace. For example, you can’t say that freedom of speech gives you the right to incite a riot, like yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. The ensuing panic could actually get people killed. So… back to the Life trumps Liberty idea already established by the Declaration of Independence, and the logic is clear.
But… what about “hate speech?” Can you profess a hateful idea or spew hatred towards a group? Actually, yes… within limits. As Voltaire said, “I may not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it,” so is the First Amendment. Just because you, or I, or whomever it may be, finds speech offensive, does NOT make it illegal. Personally, I LOVE when some idiot tries to spew “hate speech.” I debate them and destroy their basic arguments with this thing called LOGIC. IF you an intelligent, well read, and logical, you can best a racist in a debate EVERY TIME, as racism is, at its very core, illogical. But, I digress.
When you start to say that speech is not allowed, you have become the oppressor. This is why I DETEST “safe spaces” so much. I’m sorry, but if your ideas can not stand up to honest debate, they are, simply put, wrong. As Seneca said, “There is no stone polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” Hiding in a “safe space” does nothing but OSTRICH yourself- putting your head in the sand so to speak. I did an earlier journal about this (The Fracture of Thought), so, I will let sleeping dogs lie, and move on.
But what about people like Charles Manson? He didn’t actually kill anyone, his followers did, so… free speech and all… he should be free, right? WRONG! His words were a call to action, a provocation to commit violence. For example, you could say (to my face in fact, without fear of reprisal for I am a surprisingly tolerant guy.) “I hate you, Embrace-Fate. I think you’re a shithead.” And… while I wouldn’t like you, I would concede that you have an opinion and can express it. I might express a COUNTER opinion about your nature, but… hey free speech for you AND me. Woo hoo!
In fact, you could go further, and say “I hate you Embrace-Fate, and I wish you were run over by a train.” While this is meaner, it is still only speech, and the same rules apply. But, were you to say, “I hate Embrace-Fate, and I would like it if one of my followers or friends were to kill him,” for example… then you have called for an ACTION. This is no longer free speech, but rather a call to action. Those are not protected under the First Amendment. (If you doubt that, remember that the Constitution ALSO included the Codex of English Common Law from before the American Revolution, so “riot and breech of peace” are very much crimes under the Constitution. For a more in-depth explanation, if you are so inclined and wish to know more, see here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_t… )
I would say- and this is my own personal interpretation- that free SPEECH ends with an idea, and criminal action starts with telling others to commit an ACT. The key there is words versus action. Thus, to my mind, the whole concept of “Hate Speech” is a highly flawed and “slippery slope” idea, an idea that could limit or remove this part of the First Amendment. As such, I do not believe that “hate SPEECH” exists in America. It is folly to limit speech in the United States, as speech… no matter if you agree or not… causes thought, ideas, DEBATE, and eventually… growth. Without free speech, you limit ideas. And THAT is a crime against future generations. Who knows… perhaps my “extremely offensive” verbal faux pas might stimulate you to think of something new… something glorious. For that reason alone, the concept of not limiting- of not SUPPRESSING, if I can be so bold- new ideas, speech MUST remain free.
4. Freedom of the Press… well… here we go. I have a VERY strong opinion on this one, as well frankly, members of the press have gotten soldiers killed. (Ask the 82nd Airborne about Geraldo drawing maps in the sand that let the Iraqis aim SCUD missiles at our troops. Sorry, that wasn’t “freedom of the press,” that was ESPINOIGE… maybe even treason. So, this one will be difficult for me to remain objective. I will try, but… full disclosure… I mistrust, and at times even HATE the media. End of full disclosure.)
So, that said, and all my cards laid out on the table, let’s begin dissecting this part. Returning to the LIFE before LIBERTY ideals established in the Declaration of Independence, I would say that the press is NOT allowed to report information that could get people killed, or taint a jury and thereby convict a person of crime… denying then a fair trail by a jury of their peers. (Yes, that is a later Amendment, but… well… remember this for later. Who knows… I might make up a test. LOL)
So, what is freedom of the press? It means they can say (as op-ed) whatever they want, and report any event that happens… IF… they are clear they are reporting an opinion, or when (IF?!?) they report facts, this information will not get someone killed or convicted of a crime. (This is why they say “alleged” before describing any arrested person. If they say “alleged,” they can argue they are not unduly influencing a potential jury.) The problem we have now, however, is op-ed vs fact, or rather op-ed being presented AS fact. A LOT of reporting is to bring in an “expert” from whatever political spectrum the news agency wishes to promote, and have them give an “expert opinion” on the news. This starts to blur the lines, as “expert opinions” are admissible in court, and makes op-ed SOUND LIKE fact. Without that clear distinction, news slips into propaganda. This is where “journalistic integrity” is supposed to hold the line and prevent this from happening, but it rarely does. (I'll talk more about "Journalistic Integrity." You've been warned.)
I think (hope?) that this is what Mr. Trump means when he uses the term “fake news.” As someone that has seen reporters lie (Like, a rather famous reporter CLAIM to be in Fallujah when they were actually in Hit, about 40 miles north… for example… which I have seen with my own eyes. “Journalistic Integrity” is sadly NOT issued to all journalists, and those that have must ALWAYS work to keep it. Like honor, it is difficult to have and easy to lose.) repeatedly, I have an inherent distrust of media “fact.” In an era where news is funded by ratings, sensationalism is the norm, not TRUTH. “If it bleeds, it leads” seems to be the media mantra, and the media feeds repeated “worst case scenarios” rather than fact on numerous occasions. Plus there is an inherent bias. There was a LOT of media coverage of the alleged Ford vs Kavanaugh sexual assault, but ZERO coverage of Juanita Broaddrick vs Bill Clinton. Or… for YEARS, and even now on occasion, the press maintained there were no WMDs in Iraq to besmirch President Bush, but…
so… which one is true, Associated Press? Did Saddam have WMDs or the capability to make them (in this case chemical weapons) or not? You can’t report it both ways just to suit your narrative. That would be misleading at best, if not a complete breakdown of the aforementioned “journalistic integrity.”
You were warned at the outset that I am NOT a fan of the press. See why? Between bias, outright lies, and obscuring opinion as fact, the media is only useful in finding topics to do YOUR OWN RESEARCH on, which I do and encourage you do to as well. The “news” they present is often a kernel of truth, a dollop of opinion, and a full measure of bullshit, in MY opinion. After multiple combat tours, my tolerance for bullshit is minimal at best, so… again, that is why I don’t like the press. But, unlike them, I am quite clear on my bias, and why. Contemplate that the next time you tune in to ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC, and ask yourself, “what are they SELLING as truth today?”
So, I guess I would say we have a free press, in regards to how government relates to it, but… it is NOT free of opinion, propaganda, and outright lies. Sadly, unless someone is willing to spend the time, money, and effort to file a libel lawsuit against a news agency, this pattern of misconduct will continue. And please note, I am not speaking of ALL the press, just seeing a disturbing pattern and calling it to your attention. But, I have digressed long enough. Let’s move on... AFTER A LITTLE CAVEAT.
NOTE: Media Corporations PAY MONEY to search engines to put their ideas first when you do an internet search. So, when you do your own research, take a look at the source as well. I would argue, whenever media corporations pay money to put their stories at the front of the line they are, by default, trying to obscure the truth. But, I freely admit I don't trust them. (There's that full disclosure thing again... too bad the media doesn't do it.)
5. The Right of the People to Peaceably Assemble is fairly straightforward right? You and group of like minded folks show up and engage in nonviolent protest, and that is fine. Except… you can’t do this in the middle of an intersection, or in front of a hospital emergency room, or… well anywhere that would cause risk to another’s life. (There’s that Life before Liberty theme again… HMMM… think that is a pattern?) This is why most municipalities require a permit for a demonstration. It makes sure of two things: firstly, the protesters are protected by making law enforcement assets aware of where they are and what they are doing, so they can cordon and maintain order. Two, it ensures that the protest itself does not interfere with another person’s right to life or their liberties. Yes, your liberties do not trump mine and vice versa… usually. But… the Supreme Court fouled this one up:
First, full disclosure. I knew Matt “Snoop” Snyder. We served together, and I trained him to serve as a machine gunner. My bias is clear (Wow, don’t you wish reporters did this?), but my issue is still logical. If you believe otherwise, please debate, politely.
My issue is that a funeral is the ceremony to mark the end of LIFE, to give closure and insight into that LIFE, and to remind us all of the precious nature of LIFE. So, how in the Nine Hells does the Supreme Court argue that the LIBERTY of peaceably assembly (Peaceable… my ass. I talked to Matt’s Dad about it.) and free speech (and note that some of it was slander, even, whereby they specifically picketed my fellow Marine and his family) trump a LIFE? I’m sorry, but I wanted to slap every member of the Supreme Court except Justice Alito for being so stupid. Their supposition that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are equal, and that they ruled on free speech in favor of the sanctity of life, is ludicrous. Firstly, the AUTHOR of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, opined that order is a logical one, whereby one point flows FROM the previous one. Look it up. Do the research. And that means YOU… SCOTUS! (Yes, I am asking the SCOTUS to "do their M#$%^$&^%$!!!G job" correctly, the same thing I ask an eighteen year old soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine mind you, and not half ass it. Legal research is the HALLMARK of a good lawyer, let alone a judge, let alone a JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT!)
6. So… last one… the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances… is something that we should do, and much more often than we do. We should redress the Patriot Act (and its replacement) for violating the fourth amendment, and we should redress “pork barrel” spending, and well… the list goes on and on. But… we don’t. And this is sad part, because it has netted us “THE GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE.” Sadly, you, me, and most people are too busy, too tired, too self- absorbed, or whatever other lie we tell ourselves, to actually petition the government, as a matter of public record, and affect change. The mechanism to fix the government is right here! We have it as a right! And… we squander it. And that is that truly horrible part of the first amendment; we get so wrapped up in the first five liberties that we SHURK OUR DUTY under the last part. So… write your Congress. Petition them. BE A PAIN IN THE ASS!! That is part of being a citizen, holding the government accountable to the people. In a way, this is the very reason I am doing this… this very journal… to inspire people to affect change. Whether I am "the flapping of a butterfly’s wings that creates a hurricane" or a "flower dying in the desert, unlamented" is up to YOU! ALL parts of the First Amendment are moot if we don't USE them.
I have seen, and I have done. I remember having the best of intentions, but I lost my way. I hope to find my way again.
I make no allusions to who and what I am. I am loyal to a fault, fiercely protective of family, and do not suffer fools. I like humor, debate, and honest discourse. Dishonesty, presenting opinion as fact, or hypocrisy WILL get you on my "shit list" rather quickly.