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.
That’s the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It’s straightforward and apparently so important, our forefathers made it the first one.
Last week’s presidential decree barring non-Christians from certain Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States is a clear violation of the first ten words of the Amendment. Look, nobody wants terrorists sneaking into the country and killing us, but this was counterproductive. More attention needs to be paid to the dangerous people who are already here and willing to murder for their various ideologies.
And don’t tell me this wasn’t a Muslim ban. The president has been quoted as saying that he will let Christian refugees have priority over the others. It starts with the Muslims, then who’s to say that other religions wouldn’t be next? What if the next geographic targets are Catholic-majority nations, like the ones I’m descended from? How would people feel then?
…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…
The press has always been responsible for fact-checking and accuracy. This is nothing new. If something false is published with malicious intent about a person, that person often has the right to sue for libel. But if you don’t like facts that are published about you, you probably cannot sue about it. Here it is, explained by the Washington Post: “American journalists are not “allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it.” But they are protected by a legal standard known as “actual malice” when sued by public figures. According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School, “Actual malice means that a statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether or not it was false.”‘
…the right of the people to peaceably assemble…
I took to Snopes, my favorite online bs detector, about this one. I’m all about peaceful assembly. I loved visiting Faneuil Hall in Boston because it’s the birthplace of some of that Eighteenth Century rabble-rousing that founded our nation. We have a history of speaking out against injustice.
I cannot imagine being stuck in traffic caused by demonstrators taking over the highways. But roadway takeovers have become necessary as more and more people
…petition the government for a redress of grievances…
It’s important to visibly show disagreement if a governmental action is unlawful or morally odious. I have never seen so much passionate, eloquent discourse against an American president. You can’t cap the number of demonstrators. If an opinion is widely shared among many people, it would be necessary to literally “take the message to the streets.”
This is the time to speak out against unlawful behavior by our government employees. (Yes, even the president is an employee of the taxpayers.) Talk to each other, don’t let the rulers keep us divided. Resist the urge to sit home, wringing your hands and worrying without taking some action.
These are some other blogs that stepped up to the challenges to resist and speak out: