Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence

Let's try something a bit different. Consider this my "Sermon" for Independence Day.

Selections from:

The Unanimous Declarationof the Thirteen United States of America - (aka, the Declaration of Independence)
"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security...
"In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
My how those words resound in the halls of the nation we currently inhabit.
Selctions from the Bill of Rights
Ammendments 1-10 of the Constitution of the United States of America
"The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution; ..."
"
Amendment I

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.
Why are most Americans so eager to chuck this under a bus?
Shall we move on to some great American thinkers/leaders?
"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear."
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

6 comments:

Xzanron said...

Happy Rebellion Day... from a member of your former colonial oppressors :P

Our new (unelected) prime minister might actually be someone I'll like. In his first statement to parliament he opened the doors to potentially introducing a new Bill of Rights (as opposed to the 17th century one) and a written constitution. For once I'm actually happy we might be following America's lead.

It's a shame the quality of leadership in the US has declined so much in the last 200 years.

I thought I'd add my own Jefferson quote (amazing bloke)... maybe I can start a trend.

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."

Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

Fiery Ewok said...

A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Aren't these words now considered seditious and under the Patriot Act would make the speaker open to prosecution or at least persecution?

amarullis said...

Congress shall make no law respecting ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble...

hmm.. got me thinking about all of the state & city laws that require approval for people to gather for protests, parades, etc. on public property. I guess as long as it isn't Congress that makes the law it is ok?

Paul said...

[Silentsanta, NZ]

Fiery Ewok: I don't know for certain whether that's sedition, and I certainly don't want to find out

JS said...

There are many American statesmen that I greatly admire. A pity most of them are dead.

hmm.. got me thinking about all of the state & city laws that require approval for people to gather for protests, parades, etc. on public property. I guess as long as it isn't Congress that makes the law it is ok?

That would have been true prior to the Slave War. After the Slave War, your constitution was amended to ensure that all constitutional protections limiting the federal government would also limit the state governments (and by implication the county governments). It's the fourteenth amendment, IIRC.

Actually, the story is rather longer than that, because not all the rights and liberties were immediately imposed on the states as a consequence of the amendment. There has been a gradual evolution of interpretation of the scope of the amendment, generally broadening its reach.

Ed Brayton, over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars (scienceblogs.com/dispatches) has written volumes on the subject, if you're interested in a more in-depth explanation than I can offer.

- JS

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

In the 1976, for a bicentennial project, my civics class took typewritten copies of the Bill of Rights to the mall as petitions. We explained to passers-by that we were interested in supporting these amendments to the US Constitution and would they sign the petition to support them, too. Quite a number of people said "Absolutely not!" We got comments about being communists (that was during the "cold war")or hippies. No one mentioned "seditious" but that clearly what some of them thought! Many of the same got really mad when they found out that it was the Bill of Rights. :)

It was an educational experience.