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.
It’s not by accident that in the Bill of Rights — the preamble to the U.S. Constitution — is the first amendment. It concerns the three fundamental freedoms on which we base our society. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and press and freedom of assembly — including the right to complain and petition to the government — are basic to our way of life. These are the bottom line. If you take them away, it changes everything.
Our Last Freedom: Wave Bye Bye
Welcome to the new world, because two out of those three freedoms are already gone and we’re working on getting rid of the last one.
Freedom of religion was the primary reasons most Europeans settlers came to North America. Most were looking for a place where they could practice their religion in their own way … not that it stopped them from oppressing anyone who didn’t like their version of religion, but I digress. Hypocrisy is as American as apple pie. The very first settlers came to escape religious oppression, so first and foremost, we guaranteed the right to practice — or NOT practice — religion. This right is absolute. No interference is acceptable. But if all you very Christian fundamentalists have your way, we won’t have religious freedom either. You’ll move your version of God into our classrooms, courtrooms, and bedrooms. Those of us who aren’t Christian or just don’t like your version of Christianity? Tough. You have God on your side, as has every oppressor throughout history.
It doesn’t matter how right you believe you are. You have no right to impose your religious beliefs on me. I have the right to not agree with you, to practice something completely different than you do, and if I so choose, to practice nothing at all. But you’ll never understand that.
The Lost Freedoms
Freedom of speech and of the press has kept this country from losing itself many time throughout the years. Those nosy reporters determinedly seeking truth then telling the world what really happened or is happening have always been our first and best line of defense against oppression.
That protection is gone. It no longer matters what the constitution says. Virtually all media outlets are owned by big corporations whose goal is to sell whatever version of “truth” will make the most money for them. News is company policy. It has nothing to do with truth, right, or wrong.
We have lost that protection — and ironically, we didn’t lose it to the government. The law protects the press from government encroachment. What our founding fathers never considered was that we would sell our freedom to the highest bidders. We didn’t need protection from our government; we needed protection from each other.
The press is owned by corporations made up of people for whom money is everything. Journalists are gone. Now, we have stooges whose job it is to make sure whatever their parent corporation wants, they get. Advertisers have final say on whether or not a story is released. If news makes a major advertiser look bad, it disappears.
Movie and book “reviewers” don’t bother to offer real opinions. Why bother when you can rewrite press releases provided by the studio or publisher? The same thing happens in the world of technology. Writers enthuse and praise hardware and software they’ve never seen or tested. Their “reviews” are based on corporate public relations packets.
Our “free press” is gone. Don’t blame the Democrats. Don’t blame the Republicans. Blame yourself because you were too lazy to fight to keep your freedom. You let them hoodwink you, believe whatever you are told like good little sheep.
We are lied to, propagandized, and intentionally misled by politicians, so-called writers, and talking heads who cannot be trusted. If we catch them lying, we say “Oh, everyone does it” and let them get away with it.
If we don’t care about truth, why should they? A lot of us wouldn’t recognize truth if it banged us over the head and many of our most upstanding citizens don’t care whether or not something is true. As long as it agrees with their prejudices and preconceptions, it’s okay with them.
Freedom of assembly? What’s that? Remember Kent State? How about Occupy Wall Street? How freely have they been allowed to assemble?
We aren’t free. We sold our first amendment rights and I never even got a check. Maybe it’s in the mail.
Can we reclaim our freedoms?
What do you think? We the people have been brainwashed. We think freedom of religion means freedom of MY religion, the Christian religion. We don’t care who we trample as long as we win. We don’t protect anything but our own interests and we don’t care who gets hurt in the process. If freedom means you get to do whatever you want and what happens to anyone else is not your problem, then it’s not worth much anyway.
Americans don’t want to see how thoroughly they are owned. Big business bought the press, the electoral process, and you. Me too, though I’m going screaming and kicking. People really think Fox News is news. If they read it in a newspaper, or hear it on TV, it must be true. Whatever anyone proffers as truth, they believe it without corroboration, despite there being unlimited versions of truth all competing for their allegiance.
Though we still have freedom of religion, a lot of people are eager to take it from us and plenty more seem more than willing to help them.
We have the Internet, but for how long? We kept that by the skin of our teeth just last week. Don’t think the same corporate interests who tried to push SOPA and PIPA through congress won’t try again. Next time, they’ll wait until you aren’t looking.
Every day, another piece of our freedom gets chipped away. We let it happen. We buy lies. Hate overrules common sense. We vote for anyone who says what we want to hear, even if these are people from whom we would normally not buy a used car. It’s easy to lose your rights, harder to get them back.
At least I grew up in a free country. Do you care whether or not your grandchildren have the same opportunity?
Maybe it’s just as well I’m getting old. I don’t want to see what it’s going to be like in this country in another 50 years. It’s too awful to contemplate.
- There’s no Intolerance like Tolerance of Intolerance (martinspribble.com)
- Freedom of Speech (So long as…) (osgapusgov.wordpress.com)
- Religion and Democracy really are incompatible (choiceindying.com)
- What is freedom of speech? (eslschoolforenglish.wordpress.com)