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History

What Are Our Rights?!

One of the problems that Americans face is that we don’t know what our rights are.

 Yes, everyone knows that freedom of speech is part of the first amendment in the Bill of Rights. But ask anyone if they can list any of the other rights we have. Most Americans can’t. That’s why we’re slowly losing them.

Our Bill of Rights is located in the US Constitution. They are the first 10 amendments to the constitution and summarize the important rights and freedoms we have.

No, our government does not give citizens the rights we have. We are born with them. They are inherent. No politician can tell anyone that government gives you your rights, and that government can take them away. The only way in which our rights can be taken from us would be when our government becomes too tyrannical and passes laws that steal those rights. Kind of like what has been happening since the war on terror began. But as part of our system of checks and balances, the citizens have a right to overthrow a tyrannical government. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson wrote, “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive…, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.’’

The Bill of Rights is not simply a list of 10 rights or freedoms; it is a longer list that, in some amendments, deal with a particular concept that should be dear to the hearts of all Americans.

For instance, in the very First Amendment, we have five freedoms. In fact, the First Amendment is nicknamed the “Five Freedoms.’’ Freedom of speech, of press, of religion, to assemble, and to petition the government are the freedoms that circle around the concept of expression.

That you have the freedom to express your thoughts and beliefs intellectually, artistically, religiously; or that you are able to assemble in protest, or petition our government, of wrongdoing is not a lighthearted issue.

Today we have free speech zones, where you can’t voice a grievance within earshot of a politician. That’s limiting speech, confining it, when it’s supposed to be heard by all. Voicing an opinion, speaking out against an injustice, is for everyone to hear. That way it can provoke thought and the exchange of ideas, and therefore solutions to problems.

Lately, college campuses have been building safe spaces to limit or retard the exchange of ideas. Is there anything so ludicrous? College students who get offended this easily probably don’t deserve the limited education they’re forcing upon themselves by not allowing debate of ideas. Because of that, they don’t deserve to be in college either, at least until they grow up some.

 Or, how about our president, who won’t even mutter the words “radical’’ and “Islam’’ in the same sentence. Not only is that self-censorship, but it’s also an influence on the politically correct minions who self-censor for fear of offending Muslims. As if mainstream Muslims aren’t aware of the difference.

 If these examples are the new norm, then the First Amendment already doesn’t exist.

The Fifth and Sixth Amendments contain another group of rights centered around a specific concept – rights of potential criminals. The right to a lawyer, a jury trial, and due process of the law are extremely important so that the legal system works fairly for everyone, or as is often said, everyone is “equal under the law.’’

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) violates parts of both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. It gives the executive branch the authority to arrest and indefinitely detain people suspected of terrorism. And the definition of terrorism has expanded to include more than just Radical Muslims. Do a google search on “Americans that are considered terrorists’’ and you will find a lot more than what you immediately think is a terrorist.

These are just some examples of the rights we have and why it’s important to know what they are. There are 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights and this part of the US Constitution tells us the many that exist. Not every amendment centers on a concept of rights; some only give one right or freedom. But these are the rights and freedoms we have. It’s best to know them well.

About pm

Teacher, writer, and freedom lover.

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