CLUTCHING AT FREEDOM – Marilyn Armstrong

I want everything to last forever.

When I buy a television, I don’t expect to ever buy another one. I will keep using the old one until it simply won’t work anymore … or someone gently tells me that I really need a new one.

“Oh,” I say, “But I just bought this one.”

“You bought it 14 years ago. I can’t even connect most things to it. It doesn’t have the right connections.”

“Is it really that long ago? It seems like yesterday.”

It does seem like yesterday because I can remember buying it. I remember deciding which TV would give us the best pictures, be reliable. Which is how come it lasted 14 years. Actually, it still works. It’s just too old to be of much value — and too huge to get rid of, so I guess it will live in the basement forever.

The only things I buy more or less on a schedule are computers because operating systems change and software won’t run on old systems. I don’t want to get new computers. In fact, I hate new computers. Setting them up is a total pain in the butt. But I cope because I need them.

On the other hand, things like refrigerators, washing machines, ovens? The roof, the water heater, the floor, the sinks, and toilets — aren’t they forever? Don’t you buy them once, then never have to worry about them again?

I’m on my third water heater and beginning to worry about the roof. I’m discovering that the vinyl siding wasn’t a permanent investment as I thought it was. And the ants keep coming back.

Just to remind me how impermanent the world truly is, the rights we fought so hard to create, the young are fighting for them. Again.

Early 1900’s protests against the czar in Russia

How can that be? How can we have made so much progress and find ourselves back — not only where we were, but back to where my parents were. I feel like we haven’t regressed to the 1950s, but more like the 1930s.

The changes we make, the changes we paid for, fought for, battled for … they are supposed to be forever or at least for our lifetime. The roof should never need to be replaced. The heating system should be a lifetime investment.

Freedom should be given — and once achieved, you should always be free. We should never need to battle again for the right to live our lives as we please. I don’t think we should have to fight for it in the first place. We should be born free and take on obligations as a conscious choice.

Freedom has come and gone many times throughout human history. Rome was free until it wasn’t. Greece was free … until it wasn’t. Many countries were briefly free until swallowed up or conquered by others. I guess it’s our turn, my turn, to realize that the freedom I thought we’d won was merely a respite from the despotism of the world.

I’m not sure why it’s like this. Why is it freedom for which we need to fight? Why doesn’t tyranny require a battle? Why do the bad guys always seem to have the upper hand?

I think it’s because we let them. We say “Oh, a few huge corporations won’t really matter” and then we look around and the entire world is made up of huge corporations and we don’t matter. We give up our freedom incrementally.

We surrender it for higher wages, cheaper toys, nicer cars. We give it up because it sounded like fun and we don’t see the downside. We elect the wrong people because they sound good. We fail to examine if they are really who they say or are capable of being who we need.

We do it. Ourselves. We give up our freedom in tiny pieces until we have nothing left to lose.

Freedom is a costly gift which does not come to us without commitment and a battle. I didn’t imagine I would live long enough to need to fight for it again.

Is that some kind of bizarre payback for living longer?

ABOUT THE GOOD OLD FIRST AMENDMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can, does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is no substitute for intelligence. It’s healthy to think. It’s good to read a book, check your sources, find out what’s really the right thing. Your opinion is not as good as everyone else’s, not if it’s based on hatred, ugliness, nonsense, and fake facts.

It’s perfectly okay to believe in the truth, to support provable facts, and live in the same reality as the rest of the world. Believing whatever you “feel” is “right” is crap.

Give reality a chance. Try reading a book, something your president hasn’t ever done.

Try thinking.

Our nation will be grateful to you. I personally will be grateful.

FREE SPEECH ISN’T FREE – BY TOM CURLEY

As I’m writing this, there was a “free speech” rally that went on in Washington DC. It’s was held by a bunch of right-wing white supremacist neo-Nazis. They seem to feel that their civil rights are being violated because a whole bunch of people don’t like them.

Because they’re white, you see. They’re being persecuted because they are a superior race. Oddly enough, many people take umbrage with that claim.

The “rally” ended up consisting of a couple of dozen of these poor downtrodden racists and thousands of counter-protesters who believe that NAZIS ARE BAD!

These white supremacists seem to feel they’re being persecuted because they’re being denied their right to free speech. The super nut-job Alex Jones is crying and moaning because his shows have been taken off almost all the major social media platforms — like Facebook, YouTube, and ITunes.

Why? Because he spouts insane dangerous conspiracy theories. That the massacre of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut was a “false flag” operation. It didn’t happen. The kids and parents were actors.

Because of this, those poor parents have been hounded by nut-jobs that believe this crap. They’ve received death threats. Some have had to move more than once to escape the harassment.

Think about that. Those poor people lost their five or six-year-old child and now they have to deal with this. The only good news is Jones is being sued by a lot of these families.

White supremacist groups and neo-nazis complain when they have a rally or publish hate-filled bullshit on social media platforms, the places at which they work see the posts — and promptly fire their asses.

They claim they’re being punished for exercising their First Amendment rights. This is bullshit. They’re being fired because they’re racist assholes.

Their problem is that they don’t actually understand how the First Amendment works.


Here’s what it says:

“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.”


What does this mean?

No law can be passed by the government to prevent you from saying whatever you want in public, no matter how fucking dumb, sick, stupid, or racist it might be.

But here’s the way it actually works.

Just because you can say anything you want, doesn’t mean you should. Nobody has to listen to it or agree with it. I or anyone can say you’re an asshole because of the stupid racist thing you just said.

Social media platforms are not governments. They can deny you access to their service for any reason at all including NO reason. It’s in the service agreements on which you click on but never read.

A business can fire you for any reason they want and which includes no reason except they don’t like you (“You don’t fit into our culture”).

It’s not surprising that businesses, big and small, don’t want racist hate-spewing dick-wads working for them. Who can blame them? It’s bad for business.

Free speech means you can stand on a street corner and spout any kind of bullshit you want. But you need to understand — there may be consequences.

Like getting fired.

Or having thousands of people show up to exercise their First Amendment rights to say you’re an asshole.

Or, to put it in terms white supremacists can understand.


Your kind is not welcome here.

BUT I DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film, or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect.

Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say anyone is required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses his/her/their mind. Just because you can does not mean you should.  The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not force you to behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

right is not a substitute for using your brains. You are also permitted to think.

DON’T RELATE TO HATE: TWITTER SUSPENDS BRITISH HATE GROUP

Was it Twitter’s “job” to suspend the “Britain First” hate group? Read the account here in Britain’s Daily Mail.


It’s okay to not relate to hate groups.

You don’t need to try to find the soul of every evil person and group on the planet. It’s perfectly fine to recognize evil when you see it and walk away. This is the point when I begin to get edgy, worried, and frankly irritable.

If it isn’t Twitter’s place to suspend a hate group operating on their system, who else should do it? Would you prefer the government stop it?

Hitler could have been stopped. There was more than enough time to put an end to him, but no one did it. No one stopped him. Everyone was worried about protecting Hitler’s freedom of expression. You wouldn’t want to impinge on the man who hates everyone’s civil rights, would you?

I’m sure these same people who hate all the rest of us — and if in power, would probably kill us — will now take legal action because their “civil rights” are supposed to protect them from … what? Spreading the evil they spew? But of course, they entirely object to us — “those people” — having civil rights at all. Dig into the irony. It’s a deep, profound irony.

There has to be a stopping point. There must be a “no more” point.

I get civil rights better than most people, but I also understand that failing to have a “stop, this has to end” point has had catastrophic results not only in England, but everywhere.

Someone has to say “No more. It’s over.” I’m glad it’s Twitter because it is their company and they do have the right to shut them down. If there’s one plus to private industry, the right to not serve parties who do not observe company policy has got to be a big one. If a cake maker can refuse to bake for a gay couple, I’m pretty sure Twitter can stop propagating a hate group.

You want my opinion? I think any group which objects to others having civil rights and First Amendment protections should be relieved of their own. After all, they don’t need them anyway. They said so.

ABOUT THAT FIRST AMENDMENT …

Whether or not we voted for the same president, party, or believe in the same things, we are all citizens and all equal under the Constitution and laws of this country. Whatever our age, color, belief, faith, creed, tribe, or ethnicity — we are equal. We are the same before the law and in front of a cop with weapons.

I know about slavery. I know about endless attempts to wipe out every last Native American … and enslave every person of color … and several fortunately ineffectual attempts to lock up or get rid of other non-white peoples. We do not live up to our pledge to make life equal and fair for everyone, but that doesn’t change the intent of our Constitution or laws.

Yes, I know what the original said. I also know about the amendments that changed it. That is the point of having amendments — to alter the original.

That we have corrupt police officers and evil people who would prey on us and change us from a democracy to a totalitarian or fascist regime is sad, but probably inevitable. I will fight oppression and subversion until my dying breath. When you give up on freedom for others, you are give up on it for everyone. Oppressors don’t stop with one group. Once these people get started, they keep at it until they’ve gotten everyone under their guns. Oligarchs, autocrats, and kings want power and if you are in their way, you too are dead. They get power and keep it until a war overthrows them.


1st amendment cartoon


The first amendment states you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect — and even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it.

The first amendment does not require you to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected — until you stop being a loudmouth and start hurting, killing, and locking people up. That changes everything.

When the violence begins, your freedom ends.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you — and the right to fight should you impose your values on me.

A right is not a substitute for using your brains. It’s good to think. It’s good to read a book, check your sources. Find out the right thing to do — and then, do it. Your ignorant, blind opinion is not as good as everyone else’s, especially not when it’s based on hatred and fake facts. Hang on to your conscience, too.

You get respect after you trade your ignorance for knowledge.

Give reality a chance. Try thinking for yourself. Stop following your “leader” and prattling whatever nonsense he or she spouts. Our nation will be grateful to you. I will be grateful. With a little luck, the world will be a better, too.

A QUICK CLARIFICATION ABOUT THE FIRST AMENDMENT

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is not a substitute for using your brains. It’s good to think. It’s good to read a book, check your sources, find out what’s the right thing. Your opinion, no matter what you think, is not as good as everyone else’s, not when it’s based on hatred, ugliness, nonsense, and fake facts.

It’s fine to believe in facts, reality, and truth. Believing whatever you “feel” is “right” is total crap. Give reality a chance. Try reading a book, something your president hasn’t managed to do. Try thinking.

Our nation will be grateful to you. I personally will be grateful.

TRANSLATE | THE DAILY POST

STAND UP FOR TRUTH

This the season to spread stupid rumors. It keeps coming up. I get madder each time I see it.

This is the season to spread the rumor that there’s a war against Christmas. That the same cabal consisting of “them – the unnamed conspirators that are doing bad things” want to ban the holiday. That there are movements afoot to make Christmas trees into “holiday” trees and thus ban Christ in Christmas. Worse, that people will get angry and maybe sue you if you wish them a merry Christmas.

Has that ever actually happened? To anyone? Anywhere?

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It has never happened to me. I am not a Christian, but I like Christmas. It’s a nice holiday with pretty decorations, terrific music, and great lighting. Good food and drink and friends getting together to celebrate. What’s not to like?

I am an equal opportunity greeter. I will greet friends and strangers by saying whatever comes to tongue first. I have been doing this my entire life. Not once in all these decades has anyone objected to being wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday. Because people are not anti-Christmas. There is no war on Christmas.

There is a Constitutional, entirely legal (obligatory) separation of church and state. It suggests putting a crèche in the middle of town might be in poor taste or outright illegal, but is not a war on anything. It’s protecting my right to not be Christian while simultaneously protecting your right to go to the church, synagogue, mosque — or none of the above — of your choice. Separation of church and state protects all religions and non-believers equally.

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If you want to a crèche in the middle of town, ask the nearest church to put one on their property — if they don’t already have one (and I bet they do). Enjoy it at the church because that’s where it belongs. It’s religious iconography and is entirely acceptable in a religious context.

The United States is not a Christian country. It is religiously unaffiliated. Even though the majority of the population may profess to be some kind of Christian, this includes millions of people who never go to church. One of the many thing that are protected is your right to say your are a Christian or anything else without actually having to do anything to prove it. Freedom of religion is a wonderful thing. It means the government has no stake in your personal belief system as long as it stays personal and doesn’t involve bombing other sects or non-believers.

Which means you can say you are a Christian, never go to church at all, complain how Christianity is being threatened by the “freedom and politically correct cabal” (who don’t exist) and no one will ever ask you to show your bona fides. It’s a great constitution we have. If we ditched everything else but kept that first amendment, we might just be okay anyhow.

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If there’s a war on anything, it is on my right to not be Christian. Enforcing the first amendment is not a war. It’s what keeps us free.

Speaking of the first amendment, there is no law anywhere against greeting anyone in any manner you choose. The first amendment also protects your right to free speech including saying Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Or nothing at all. Whatever. It’s all good. I suggest the following response to any seasonal greeting: “Thank you!” Accompanied by a smile. Because someone is being nice and you should be nice, too. Now … that wasn’t so hard, was it?

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Despite Facebook, there is no war on Christmas. No war on free speech. If you spread the rumor that this is true, who knows how much damage you can do? Unless that’s your intention, don’t do it.

No matter what you believe, it’s time to stop sharing, tweeting, and re-posting stuff that’s supposed to be true without first checking to make sure that it is true. How about we stop letting other people’s opinions substitute for facts? How about not passing rumors? How about we all make a commitment to fact-checking as a matter of course? Because the damage we do by spreading lies, rumors, and half-truths — intentional or not — is incalculable. This is something you can do to make the world better without getting out of your recliner.

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If you don’t have time to check the facts, do not repeat it, share it, re-post it, publish it, or in any way pass it along. Unless you personally have checked the facts, assume it is not true. The world will be a better place no matter what politics you favor.

This is not an “us versus them” issue. It is a true versus untrue issue, a fact versus fiction issue. It affects everyone — including your children and grandchildren. Stand up for truth!

IT’S LEGAL TO BE A MORON – CLARIFYING THE 1ST AMENDMENT

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is no substitute for using your brains.

Daily Prompt: You’ve Got the Power – And I plan to keep it!

The never-ending election of 2012 gave me a lot to think about. Laws, God, faith, and freedom were suddenly no longer personal issues, but matters of public policy. I have always felt threatened by zealots. I am not zealous about matters of religion. What I believe is a moving target. I think about faith and religion a lot and I’m open to ideas, circumstance and experience. The result is that I don’t have any set of rigid beliefs or principles about faith or God. I was — am — of the opinion that I am not obliged to make a choice on this issue. It’s personal. It’s private. If I feel like sharing it with you, that’s up to me and if you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. I do not require the world to be made in my image or the image of my beliefs.

After a lifetime of pondering and reading, thinking and debating I reached a simple conclusion: I don’t know what The Truth is — and neither do you.

BillOfRights

We already have the very best law we could write. It’s the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In this amendment, the Constitution explicitly prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

This law was adopted on December 15, 1791 as the first of ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. We don’t need a new law. We merely need to honor the ones we already have. In the spirit of that law, I will let my conscience be my guide and everyone else should do the same.

Americans balk at being told what to do, much less what to think or believe. It’s our national bottom line: to believe, think and feel as we choose. And talk about it, argue about it, write about it, preach about it. And it’s okay because the right to believe is accompanied by the right to proclaim your beliefs to the world. What is not protected — and is explicitly prohibited — is your right to impose those beliefs or force anyone else follow them.

We are a nation of laws and there are so many. We are obligated to obey them or deal with the consequences.

Traffic rules, tax laws, zoning laws. Laws pertaining to education and ownership of property. Registration of vehicles, licenses to practice our professions. We have laws within laws: national laws, state law, local law. Laws of our county, town and village. Laws against crossing the street against a red light or dropping trash on the sidewalk. Rules about where you can go, where you can ride, drive or walk, bring your dog or your children. There are laws about where you can consume food and beverages as well as what food and beverages you can consume and at what age you have the right to consume them. Laws about when we can play music, hold a parade, or smoke a cigarette. There are rules governing every aspect of our lives … except in matters of faith, conscience and personal belief.

We have the right think and believe whatever we choose, and to talk about it without fear of prosecution or persecution.

This is not a Christian country. We have no national religion. We have more Christians — alleged Christians — than any other defined religious group, but that does not give them any special rights under the law. Personally, I came close to accepting Christianity until the bullies of the Christian right decided to try and take all my freedoms away. That was a deal-breaker for me. I might have come to it on my own, but I will not be bullied. I can be convinced, but I will not be coerced.

Flag on our Library

The Constitution of the United States is a brilliant document. It is — as all good legal documents are — subject to change and interpretation based on the realities of the world. The courts and the people have added amendments and altered how its provisions are enforced and applied.

Against all odds, that first amendment has stood the test of time. There’s a reason why it’s up there at the top. It’s the foundation of what we believe as a people, a beautiful thing. We should honor it. In doing so, we also honor ourselves, our country, our Founding Fathers and show that we have faith in our nation’s ability to recognize what is right. Instead of looking for new laws and rules, let’s try following what we’ve got and see how that works out.

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