Sacred Wolf
The First Amendment
Homeland inSecurity Blanket
Justifiable Measures
Project 112 fact sheets
What Every American Doesn't Need To Know
America's New World Order
Thoughts on September 11, 2001
Other observations
Fundamental American Politics
About the Idiot Running This Site

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.

The high price of freedom.
Daniel Pearl, executed American journalist.

For exercizing his First Amendment rights.
Lenny Bruce, outspoken comedian, dissenter.

Part One:


The First Commandment is a big one.  Five Rights are covered:  the Freedom of Religion, the Press, Speech, Assembly, and the Petition of Grievances.  As it is the first, it seems that the Founding Fathers found these Freedoms most fundamental.  (The Second Commandment is the one that secures the rest, and a lot of people believe it to be the most important.)  (The shift from "Amendment" to "Commandment" is a conscious one-- these are the principles that this nation is founded on, much like the Commandments are the foundation of the major Western religions.)

First, I want to look at the easiest of them.  The Freedom of the Press.  To have a free and private Press to report and examine the events of the secular world is the biggest breakthrough of political thought.  In most countries, the Press is either State-run, or regulated by the State.  Facts are manipulated, and the citizens are spoon-fed overt propaganda.  (Whereas in the United States, we are spoon-fed covert propaganda-- look at the words used to describe certain people or places.  It is a subtle lead to affect public opinion.)  The Founding Fathers knew how important the free exchange of ideas is, how important it is for the governed to be informed of the changes in the world that they live in.

Unfortunately, the Press has devolved.  Rather than informing the populace of the changes that will directly effect them, mainstream media reports the stories that will sell papers and increase viewers.  These stories often involve scandal (the Presidents involvement in shady business practices), the spread of fear (outbreaks of deadly diseases), or children trapped in wells.  While these things need to be reported to the public, other events get less space, or are pushed aside entirely.

A few years ago, I read that the FBI, acting in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), carried out an assault on a group in Nevada.  There was an exchange of fire, resulting with many dead and wounded.  The group that was the target of the Federal ire was a family of Native Americans whose crime was ranching.  They were using Reservation land, land that was theirs by treaty (and not part of the US).  The BLM did not like the fact that they did not need assistance, and claimed that they were ranching illegally on Federal land.  The family refused to quit, and the FBI was called in.  The story was part of an essay in the newspaper about the governments treatment of the Native Americans, an example of broken treaties.  That was the only thing that I have heard about it.

I saw a documentary on the "War on Drugs" in which it was revealed that the CIA had brought massive amounts of illegal drugs into this country for the purpose of distribution, through the Mena, Arkansas airport.  Nothing more was said.

At the other extreme is overreporting.  It has been said that Saddam Hussein gathered most of his intelligence of American military activities in Iraq from CNN.  In the 1990s, the US Marines staged a nocturnal invasion (in Somalia, if memory serves), only to be met by floodlights and reporters.

There needs to be a balance.  It is the responsibility of journalism to find it.

There are respectable news organizations that seek out the important stories and report them (often with heavy bias and a truckload of opinion-- but, at least they are honest about it).  Unfortunately, they are not always easy to find.  The citizens who wish to stay informed must seek them out for themselves.  (C-SPAN offers live coverage of Congress during the day, and the wee hours  It is worth watching, just to see how our representatives actually work.)

The internet, this last bastion of the free and open exchange of ideas, has made finding the full coverage of the news easier.


Part two:

"I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it."  Voltaire

"It is my opinion that never before have we, as a nation, stood in greater danger of losing our individual liberties as we are today.  We, the people of this great nation, are being punished for the transgressions of our leaders and their consorts.

"When I still have the freedom to speak, I'll always use it."  Frank Serpico, July 4, 2002, Chatham, NY

            So, maybe Frank Serpico (one of the few cops who work to protect the rights of the individual citizen and serve the good of the community, as opposed to the power-hungry thugs who want to prove that they are not homosexual or are tougher than whoever beat them as children) was a bit out of line when he made the above statement before reading the Declaration of Independence. The fact that he spoke out against the new tyranny in the face of criticism is an example of the power of the Freedom of Speech.  He spoke publicly without fear of punishment.  To speak out against the established order is another freedom that is not enjoyed throughout the world.  In the former Soviet Union, dissidents found themselves carried off to Siberia in the middle of the night.  Here, the dissidents are only arrested, and charged with disturbing the peace.  (An example of how this basic Right is being eroded.)

            The right to protected freedom of expression has been overtly undermined for decades.  The examples that make the news most often come from the art world.  (Mainly because they are the most obvious and reach the greatest audience.  Most protestors fade quietly away.  After having to deal with tear gas and random beatings by cops, it is understandable why they would.  I would get tired of it, too.)  Artists have been making unpopular statements that have led to outcries by the oral majority, leading to their removal from public museums.  The most famous example is Mapplethorpe's series of nudes, depicting adult and juvenile males.  Ive not seen the photos, but I understand that they did not depict anything pornographic.  Would I seek them out to view them?  Probably not.  Would I expend time and energy to have them removed from public view?  Absolutely not.  I might not call it art, but there are many that do.  Another example that comes to mind is a collage that was done 2 or 3 years ago depicting the Virgin Mary, using small pornographic photos for the color.  I have heard it described.  Yes, the small photos that make up the image are graphic.  But the overall image, that of the Virgin Mary, transcends the base images that comprise it.  From what I understand, it is a very powerful statement about the sacred rising above the secular.

            Those who protest the war in Afghanistan are in the minority.  Those who criticize the policies of the government have the right to speak out, reveal their opinions on what is wrong with this country.  They should be listened to, understood.  It is one of their rights as the governed.

            It is easy to protect popular speech.  The majority will stand behind it.  It is fundamental to protect unpopular speech, to thwart the Tyranny of the Masses.  When the dissidents disappear, so do our basic rights.  The government becomes a tyranny.

Part three:

            Although there was a smattering of criminals and other undesirables, many of the first colonists were escaping religious persecution.  They came to the New World from across Europe, in the hope of finding the freedom to worship without persecution.

            Today, however, the Freedom of Religion has slowly succumbed to the Tyranny of the Masses.  The federal government (including banks and other secular institutions) shut down for Christian holidays (Christmas and Easter).  Until recently, public schools have held Christmas pageants, which served to further blur the distinction between Church and State.  The use of the word God in the Pledge of Allegiance (which was introduced in the McCarty Era to separate "us" (the Land of the Free) from "them" (those godless communists) has been called into question.

            This issue may seem trivial in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  It is un-American and unpatriotic, you might say, to mess with the Pledge.  The attacks spurred the line of thought that led to the Court decision.  It was in the spirit of Patriotism that the word was questioned.  This is a nation of emigrants, from all backgrounds, cultures, and faiths.  We cannot allow one belief system to dictate the lives of those who do not share that belief.  (Imagine the public outcry if it were changed to, "One Nation under Krishna.")  That is the basis of Theocracy, it is what the Framers of the Constitution sought to avoid.  Because blood was shed to keep the generations to come free from religious persecution in any form.

            After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Islamic community became the target of public outrage and State persecution.  Instead of sending them to a foreign country as colonists, we herded them into prisons.  Why?  Because of where they were born and their religious beliefs.  (Most of them were peaceful people who could not commit a violent crime if they wanted to.  Yet they were imprisoned as terrorists without proof.)  Ive been threatened with physical violence for standing up against individuals who wanted to hunt people of Middle-Eastern descent.

            Blurring the lines between Church and State (as most political activism has done, both on the Right and the Left) is dangerous.  It places too much power in the hands of one group.  There is no place for God in politics.

            (The only numbers that I could find for religions in the United States are from compiled by B.A. Robinson.  61% Protestant, 23% Roman Catholic, 1% (each) Orthodox Christian, Judaism, Muslim.  That leaves 13% "other."  It seems fairly accurate, but I can not verify the figures.)


Part four:


            The protest movements of the 1960s have their roots in the First Amendment Right to Peaceful Assembly, as does the passive war that Gandhi waged against the English Empire.  Thoreau's theory of passive resistance could easily be linked to this Right.

            We have looked at the Freedoms of the Press, Speech, and the Practice of Religion.  It would follow that Peaceful Assembly should be next.  Meeting publicly to discuss events and policies, debate the issues at hand, even to practice ones faith; or to show solidarity for or against the government, with out fear of persecution, is one more of the freedoms that we enjoy that the more strictly governed nations frown upon.  Often, in these nations, peaceful and non-violent gatherings often end with tear gas, rubber bullets, or at worst, military intervention.

            Wait.  Is that not how many non-violent demonstrations end here?  Let us harken back to the halcyon days of the Viet-Nam War.  In California, Latinos were becoming more politically active, seeking a voice in the larger community in which they lived.  At one rally, several citizens were injured or killed by police launching tear-gas grenades willy-nilly into the crowd and neighboring businesses.  Oscar Acosta, one of the more outspoken leaders of the movement, was killed by one of those tear-gas grenades after it was launched out of a gun.  In Ohio, at Kent State University, armed National Guardsmen broke up a peaceful anti-war demonstration.  As the crowd dispersed, American servicemen opened fire (for some reason) on the unarmed American citizens, killing four.  Those are the two biggest examples of government agents using lethal force against peaceful dissenters.

            Now, people can be arrested for gathering in mass without proper permits.  There is no tolerance for a last-minute rally or spur-of-the-moment soapbox rant.  We must navigate the proper channels of government bureaucracy to exercise this First Amendment right.  Even then, it could be denied, or broken up by law enforcement.

            (Are you seeing a pattern here yet?)


Part five:


            The final Right accorded to the People under the First Amendment is the Right to Petition the Government for Redress of Grievances.  The most difficult to interpret, and that has become convoluted through later Amendments.

            (For now, though, I will take its most basic interpretation.)  Say somebody gets a wild hare and decides that it would be in the best interest of each community to decide how their community will handle, say, gay rights.  (Grievance:  Community rights over State law.)  This person words the grievance in a way that is clear and concise, then goes out and gathers a few thousand signatures to show public support.  (The petition process, as we know it.)  The petition of the grievance is taken to the State to be redressed.  Rather than take care of the matter in State Congress, it is re-worded in doublespeak and legalese, and put on the ballot for popular vote.  Leading up to the election, extremists muddy the already opaque water over the way the issue is worded.  Those for it say that the way it is worded, voting against it strips gays of their basic human rights.  Those against it say that voting for it automatically gives gays preferred status.  (It is about each community deciding its own best interests.)  It is defeated overwhelmingly.  The governor, who was a proponent of the issue, decides that the people were wrong to vote it down.  (By now, it is no longer about community autonomy.  It has become a gay issue.)  He reverses the vote.  The State Supreme Court rules his decision unconstitutional, and lets the vote stand.  (One:  It should have been redressed by the State Congress in the first place.  That is their job.  Two:  Voting against an issue cannot have any effect other than keeping things the way they are.)

            True story, by the way.  Colorado's Amendment 2 from a couple of years ago.

            Another happy bedtime story for those who like the status quo of our government.  Around the same time, Proposition 187 (if I remember the number right) was placed on the Californian ballot.  Its purpose was to deny illegal emigrants access to public social programs such as welfare, housing, health care, and so on.  A vast majority of Californians voted for it.  The people targeted were, after all, in this country illegally.  Law enforcement officers were too busy beating up minorities to deal with the illegal emigrants.  The government agencies that provided the services to the illegal emigrants were too busy harassing unwed mothers to bother about the problem of illegal emigrants.  Some genius came up with the idea to deny access to social programs to all illegal emigrants so that the funds could be used for people living and working in this country legally.  Simple, yes?  Any person who was not legally residing in the US, whether from Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, or North America, could not gain access to taxpayer-subsidized programs.

            Special-interest groups decided that this was targeting Mexicans, to deprive them of their basic rights and liberties.  (Keep two things in mind:  At the time, there were more illegal emigrants from Poland living in California than there were Mexicans living in California illegally.  And these people were here ILLEGALLY.  Hence, the term, "ILLEGAL ALIEN."  The proposition said nothing about people living here legally, nor about Mexicans specifically.)

            Guess who won?  (If you guessed the special-interest groups, you win.) 

            Guess whom the losers are when these things happen?

            We, the People.


"The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance."  --Thomas Jefferson

The only way to fight City Hall is to become part of City Hall.