While celebrating Independence Day, celebrate your rights & civility!


While celebrating Independence Day, celebrate your rights & civility!

You don’t discuss politics or religion if you want to keep from upsetting some folks. So, I am going to briefly discuss both J.

I hope you can not only tolerate my comments but go a step further and perhaps rethink your perspective, even if you disagree with mine. I want to discuss these issues in the context of the Bill of Rights. I am in the business of helping people, defending and fighting for their rights—all people.

I believe in the Bill of Rights with every part of my being. According to the Bill of Rights, it does not matter if you are straight or gay, black or white, man or woman, republican or democrat, or any “one-off” from what I have listed. We all have the same rights recognized and granted in the first ten amendments to the US Constitution.

Under Amendment 1, we all have the right to believe in whatever religion we choose, including no religion. Each of these is equal, none greater than another. While I am not a huge fan of ORGANIZED religion (of any kind), I respect your right to believe, as well as your right not to. We are also granted the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So, say and think what you like, but make sure you stop talking and let others do the same. You are not necessarily correct; you are opinionated. Let others give their “2 cents,” If you have an open mind, you might learn something. Let the press do their job and be thankful, even if you don’t like their slanted view, that they have a RIGHT to report it. I miss the days of straightforward news reporting instead of the opinionated perspectives we get today, but they are FREE to do it that way.

Fortunately, you can get the facts if you change the channel and learn to listen and determine your own opinions. I encourage you to stop regurgitating the sound bites you hear and get the whole story, contemplate it, and share “your thoughts” not as truth but as “your thoughts.”

Under Amendment 2, we have the right to own and keep guns. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them. If you want them, buy them and act responsibly. In my humble opinion, this right keeps our government and others from suppressing us, the citizens, even more. I often get concerned about our government infringing on our rights, both parties, by the way. My guns are my last line of defense, and I will keep them. Thank you.

Under Amendment 3, we keep our government military out of our homes. I say government because a soldier in the house not invited in by the homeowner is not your (our) military. A soldier invited into the home is an American soldier (regardless of their birthplace) and a friend. Thank you for your service to our country.

Under Amendment 4, we have the right to secure our persons, homes, and effects (property) against unreasonable searches and seizures. That means everybody, color, gender, religion, etc., has the same right to expect not to be harassed by the government, requiring the government to apply the same standard to all. We are all entitled to the same respect and civility from our government, and we should demand the same of each other. Treat one another with respect and civility; you may need that person’s help someday. Don’t burn the bridge you may need to cross.

Under Amendment 5, Thank your God if you have one, the government needs to get a grand jury indictment before they can hold you for murder. A grand jury may not be the tallest cheese sandwich to jump over, but at least it is something citizens decide, not the government. Also, you cannot be required to answer a question if it might incriminate you, “I plead the 5th”. Also, we are entitled to due process before we can be deprived of life, liberty, or property. These are protective safeguards for all citizens. These are individual people’s rights that include you.

Under Amendment 6, when charged with a crime, you have a right to a speedy trial and to confront witnesses against you. You also are entitled to a lawyer. This is big stuff, folks; you cannot be completely railroaded without a fighting chance. How much more injustice would there be without being able to confront your accuser and have the assistance of counsel. Have a party; these are our rights!! Don’t treat them lightly or take them for granted.

Under Amendment 7, We have the right to a jury trial. While this is under attack with things like binding arbitration clauses, Trial by jury is imperative, and fighting to keep this right (frankly all of them) is a significant part of my life’s work. I will jump to save a person in need; most of us will because we see a person who needs help. They have a face, a name, a family, a heart, a soul. Companies don’t have these things; they have bottom lines and profits, and many will sacrifice souls for profits. Companies don’t like jury trials because our right to one protects us, and they don’t want us protected. Now, for you Republicans who think what I just said is liberal, I disagree. I believe in corporate profits. I own a company and want and need it to succeed, but not at the cost of my individual rights.

You know the saying. “look out for number 1 and make sure you don’t step in number 2”. To place business ahead of people is simply wrong because you are putting an “inanimate being” ahead of yourself, a “real being.”

Under Amendment 8, no excessive bail nor cruel or unusual punishment. Do I need to say more? Too bad we had to spell it out in an Amendment, but glad we did. I wish it applied to the kids in our border prisons. Excessive bail would keep people from being able to get out of jail before their Trial. Remember the old expression “innocent until proven guilty?” It seems like a lot of people want that to only apply to themselves. If you believe in the “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” then you must appreciate the “no cruel or unusual punishment.” Remember, this applies to citizens. I have a different feeling about enemy combatants, but that may just be me.

Under Amendment 9, just because the Constitution does not address it does not mean that it is NOT a right retained by the people. In other words, not so fast government, we have rights that may not be enumerated in the Constitution. People first. The drafters (We The People) appreciated that they did not address every potential issue in the Constitution. They did not want a government that later tried to gather more power by assuming power over those things not mentioned.

So, they pointed out that their emphasis was for strong state and individual rights, a smaller federal government. Yea, I know, we let that one slip away. Both Republicans and Democrats want a bigger Government. Republicans deny it, but they create more laws and bigger budgets, and they say they are going to pay for it but don’t, while the Democrats just refuse to consider the cost/budget when they are “ordering dinner.”

Amendment 10 respects states’ rights and the rights of the people. Powers not delegated to the Feds nor prohibited by it go to the states and the people. This is a limit on the power of the Federal Government over the states and citizens. You would not know it today, but the Federal Government is supposed to work for us. No, I am serious. Amendment 9 & 10 are both restrictions on the power of a central government. The drafters were worried, and they had a right to be. They had been under a monarchy that had absolute power. They did not want another “wolf” government, not even in “sheep’s clothing.” They were brilliant, right? Three equal branches of government with checks and balances and power with the people and states focused on keeping a national government in check. Maybe we need to remember this when we go to vote.

Okay, so I did not really get into politics nor religion, did I? Well, I kind of did. I am a conservative. We don’t have a conservative party. I guess there just are not enough of us, or worse, we are just not paying enough attention. I think an honest conservative would be for freedom of choice for women, belief in gay marriage, the right to have guns, no caps on jury verdicts, no limitations to the Jury trial, etc. In my opinion, Republicans tend to think they can dictate morality, and the democrats think everybody deserves equally. Hard work and risk-taking be dammed. The bill of rights gives us equal rights; it does not mean we are equal, nor does it require us to conform to the same morality. Some folks are more intelligent. Some work harder, and some get lucky. Some religions are good at one thing and bad at another. I think they are all pretty good at asking for money J. The opportunity for all people needs to be equal, not the experience. So, my “2 cents.” Enjoy and appreciate our rights, appreciate this great country by respecting everyone else in it and those that want to be. I recommend a good read this July 4th.  The first 10 amendments, your Bill of Rights.

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