Respectful Insolence

My Bill of Rights

Maybe you’re like me, tired of a government that does not seem to respect one of the founding documents of our nation, namely the Bill of Rights. Maybe you’re tired of Christian fundamentalists who do not see the placement of monuments containing the Ten Commandments on government property as a government endorsement of a specific religious tradition (Judeo-Christian) and consequently as a violation of the First Amendment. Maybe you wonder why there are so many willing to place religious monuments on government land and why you so seldom see the document responsible for the religious freedom that allows these fundamentalists to proselytize and try to get these monuments placed.

Someone is doing something about it.

Comedian and juggler Chris Bliss has started a project, MyBillof Rights.org to do something about this. Its goal:

Our mission is to promote awareness and respect for the Bill of Rights as the foundation of our individual freedoms, our laws, and the American system of justice, through the design and crafting of Bill of Rights displays to be placed on public lands throughout America, beginning with the capitol grounds of all 50 state legislatures.

As Mr. Bliss states in a letter posted to the website:

That’s why, rather than add to the heat over controversies like the placement of Ten Commandments displays in and around America’s legislatures and halls of justice, MyBillofRights.org seeks instead to throw light on these uniquely American laws that have contributed far more to the greatness of our nation and the hope it has offered to freedom-loving people everywhere, and that too many of us have taken for granted for too long.

MyBillofRights.org does not begrudge or oppose any individual American’s religious beliefs. Our sole purpose is to remind all Americans of that brilliant, shining and truly revolutionary document, the Bill of Rights, which has for 200 years been the lifeblood of our freedoms.

Of course, I wouldn’t stop there. The Bill of Rights should be displayed prominently in every courthouse, state capitol, and city hall. It is the very foundation of the freedoms that come under attack with depressing regularity. The present administration may be worse than most when it comes to undermining the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, but no administration in my lifetime has been blameless. Whenever Bush supporters express a willingness to allow the Bush administration more leeway in terms of domestic spying or the power to detain citizens as “enemy combatants,” I always remind them that Bush won’t be in office forever and ask: What if our next President is Hillary Clinton (a truly frightening thought)? They may trust President Bush to do the right thing with such powers, but would they trust a second President Clinton?

Such powers, once ceded, are hard to take away. Similarly, our rights, once given away by the people (or allowed to be taken), are hard to take back. The Bill of Rights is there to protect our freedoms no matter who is in power. That’s why our freedoms as enumerated in the Bill of Rights must be protected. The sad thing is, most Americans don’t even know most of the Bill of Rights. Projects like this to raise the awareness of the Bill of Rights are one small way to remind people of the importance of this document and what it protects.

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Baumbach
    March 31, 2006

    Another Clinton in the White House truly frightening? Two families in control of the White House for possibly as much as 24 years (if Hillary got relected) and far longer if (FSM save us) Jeb Bush gets into office after Hillary == a monarchy. With the erosion of the bill of rights, were heading there, full steam ahead.

    But of course, that’s not important. So long as Roe v. Wade gets overturned, or is prevented from being overturned (both sides are equally guiltly of this), everything else is inconsequential, right? Unfortunately, far too many people vote on singular, hot-button issues like abortion…and look where it gets us.

    And yet, far too many people still don’t vote. Election Tuesday is always so dang depressing.

  2. #2 RPM
    March 31, 2006

    Don’t forget, not only did George Mason make it to the Final Four, he’s also the father of the US Bill of Rights.

  3. #3 Dad Of Cameron
    March 31, 2006

    Can’t remember where I saw it (apologies for not crediting the proper source), “Bush swore on a Bible to uphold The Constitution, not vice versa”. Maybe it was at Landover Baptist?

  4. #4 Mark Paris
    March 31, 2006

    What an excellent idea!

  5. #5 Opiwan
    March 31, 2006

    Well, Greg, in a two-party system, “hot button” voting is way too easy. At least in multiparty systems you get some diversification of parties’ platforms such that multiple parties would have the same views on certain “hot button” issues to keep things more balanced. We don’t have that luxury…

  6. #6 Ed Darrell
    March 31, 2006

    Also, see this group’s stuff, aimed at school teachers; really good stuff: http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/

  7. #7 Kapitano
    March 31, 2006

    Two parties? Speaking as an inhabitant of Britain, where there’s now two indistinguishable parties competing for power, I can never remember which is which out of Republican and Democrat – or why one is marginally better than the other.

    Sometimes I think we brits should have an American-style constitution. But it would be violated and twisted every day too.

  8. #8 Scott Belyea
    March 31, 2006

    Can’t remember where I saw it (apologies for not crediting the proper source), “Bush swore on a Bible to uphold The Constitution, not vice versa”. Maybe it was at Landover Baptist?

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/raskin.asp

  9. #9 Hank Barnes
    March 31, 2006

    I’m a big fan of the Bill of Rights.

    My favorite is the Second — the one about firearms.

    My next favorite is the First — the one about freedom of speech, and the free exercise of religion.

    My next favorite is probably the Fourth — the explicit right to privacy from unreasonable government searches.

    I like a lotta the others ones, too.

    Hank Barnes

  10. #10 BronzeDog
    March 31, 2006

    I’m not too hot on the Second one, but I think it’s necessary. (Though someday, I’d like to go out to a targetting range or something with a tommygun and write my name in bullet holes.)

    The First Amendment is my favorite: All other freedoms are rendered moot if a person’s freedom of thought and expression aren’t protected.

    I also like the Fourth, especially since Bush apparently doesn’t.

  11. #11 Dad Of Cameron
    March 31, 2006

    Thank you Scott!

  12. #12 Jason Powers
    March 31, 2006

    My favorite is the Ninth. It was the first submitted for ratification and presents the underlying reasoning behind the others. Someday it will be used to smack down motorcycle helmet laws, seatbelt laws, and laws banning abortions and recreational drugs.

    Today it’s a fucking historical footnote.

  13. #13 Greg Baumbach
    March 31, 2006

    Opiwan, we don’t have a two party system. We only vote that way. :)

  14. #14 impatientpatient
    April 1, 2006

    Well, coming from a country that has a multi-party system and seeing how people that I know voted in the last election, I would say that there are always hot button issues that make things a bit hairy. One is the protection of the nuclear family- a reaction against the gay agenda. Another is medical marijuana- repeal that so we don’t go down the slippery sope, or at least re-criminalize the possession of a small amount. Whether or not the party that is now leading the country (by coalition) will actually be able to achieve this is going to be interesting to observe, but we Canadians are getting about as afeared of the scariness of the world as are you Americans. Sucks to be me- even though I am not gay and do not smoke up. I still have to listen to the idiots.

  15. #15 G
    November 29, 2006

    like for realz this is the most ghettoest shit i have ever seen people talking about how they are fans of the bill of rights and this and that WAY TO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS even this blog on the bill of rights is pointless all u do it complain and wht do u get out of it??? exactly GET A JOB!!!

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