Do you remember the “First Amendment”?

July 12, 2010 § 3 Comments

“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.”

Those words are so simple. So many of us grew up with those freedoms that we take them for granted. We think we know what they mean. We get indigent when someone tells us “You can’t say that”, “You can’t protest here” or “Turn those camera’s off.” But the First Amendment means so much more.

I was reminded of how truly free we are, and how much we take it for granted by a voice reaching out from true oppression. A teacher named Sam in Iran read my post of June 20, 2010 Is it time for scientists to come out of the closet? He posted the following comment on July 11:

“I don’t know why they’re pretending on some nonsense. In a free society where you all live, practically there shall be zero constraints on people’s believes. This is exactly what I don’t understand, when only few people believe in god these days, politicians & scientists still have doubt about speaking out…”

I have been thinking about this comment and Sam. What must it be like to live in a place where expressing your beliefs will get your beaten or killed? I encourage everyone to read Sam’s blog to get some perspective on human rights.

1forAllI also encourage everyone to join 1 for All is a national nonpartisan program designed to build understanding and support for First Amendment freedoms. 1 for All provides teaching materials to the nation’s schools, supports educational events on America’s campuses and reminds the public that the First Amendment serves everyone, regardless of faith, race, gender or political leanings. It is truly one amendment for all.

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§ 3 Responses to Do you remember the “First Amendment”?

  • Sam says:

    My dear PJ;
    First of all let me express my gratitude taking me seriously. Also the Issue you’re bringing on is one of my real concerns and interests. You know, it’s always more than a piece of paper. Although your admirable American constitution is balanced with full of positive points, all liberal all democratic, ours on some points were surprisingly imitated from yours and French. But we forget something! Let’s take a look at these: Article 23 of the constitution of the ‘Islamic Republic of Iran’ says, ‘the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.’ Article 27 mentions, ‘Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.’ We have these on paper but none of them have been materialized over the last 31 years. Those great philosophers of yours whom I very much admire (Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington) knew that constitutions should be more than papers and articles, they must engage deep in society by practical institutions.

    • PJ says:

      Sam,
      Thank you so much for posting this comment. I had no idea the specifics of what was in your constitution. I’m sure most Americans don’t. All I knew was that it was not being followed. Then again, most Americans would argue that our constitution is not being followed either. When it comes to human rights violations, you win. Or should that be lose?
      In case you did not notice, I have a warped sense of humor.
      Thank you again.
      PJ

  • Sam says:

    You’re right. There are only two countries, as far as I know, have an attachment-like appendix to their constitution and both had ups and downs in history regarding this matter that designed such a mechanism. USA and the Republic of France have ‘Bill of Rights’. Experience showed this has been a real safeguard of human rights and civil liberties.

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