My social media profiles have read the following for years: “Trying to save the Republic that afforded me liberty and opportunity, for six kids and six grandkids, so far, one post at a time. #DontTreadOnMe”
Unfortunately, I feel that hope might be in vain and in danger of going unfulfilled. Allow me to explain.
First, to be clear, the Bill of Rights was not written to create rights, or to define newly created rights. It was understood by the Framers that the rights, in question, were natural rights extended to man by God, in perpetuity. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to enumerate, as a reminder, some of the more important rights, less they be forgotten in a future day; in other words, the Founders had very little trust in government. Nor were those rights listed meant to exclude a whole host of other natural rights that were too numerous to list. Rather the Bill of Rights outlined mandates to government not to interfere with the rights of the people. Government was, in fact, charged to protect those natural rights, as that was the understood purpose of any government of a free people.
As stated in the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Document: “…that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
As for the unenumerated rights, the 9th Amendment is clear about the existence of such and so reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” In other words, the enumeration of some very important rights in the Bill of Rights was in no way thought, or meant, to be an exhaustive list of the rights retained by the people.
In fact, the 10th Amendment goes on to solidify that point: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In other words, the powers actually given to the government were few and delineated whereas the power, and rights, given to the people and possessed by the people, respectively, were manifold and too numerous to list exhaustively.
So, the list of the rights of the people could have gone on and on, ad infinitum, but the Framers knew that was impractical and, so, put the stamp and the seal on the Bill of Rights through the 9th and 10th Amendments, in essence, to say, ‘if there’s anything we may have forgotten to mention, or that you thought was not included, these two amendments should clear that up.’
Now to the order of the Amendments and the particular placement of the 1st and 2nd Amendments.
“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” – 1st Amendment.
The framers understood that the first and most important bedrock of a free society was the ability of the citizenry to speak freely, worship freely as they chose, and to assemble in the public square, as well as privately, and to have attention paid when they sought redress of grievances. The government was thus forbidden to enact any law in an attempt to curb these rights. So again, the amendment did not establish the rights, they pre-existed the government of the United States, and the legislature, executive, and judicial branches were forbidden from attempting to regulate these things.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” – 2nd Amendment.
The 2nd Amendment, like the First, was addressed to government and forbade any infringement of the people’s right to be armed. The Framers especially understood, having just fought a war with a power that attempted to regulate their access to weaponry, that there was a tendency for government to grow, regulate, and lean towards tyranny, and thus enumerated for posterity the understanding that the right to “keep and bear arms” was sacrosanct and not to be infringed upon in any way and, again, necessary for the ability of a free people to remain free.
So, what happened? How did we get where we are today where free speech has become the pretext to cast people under suspicion of all kinds of evil and the constant harping about confiscating the legal weapons of lawful citizens while our streets, in cities with the strictest gun control in the nation, are filled with thugs shooting men, women, and children daily with virtual impunity?
Go ask almost any individual under thirty, except probably naturalized immigrants who know more about America than Americans, about the meaning of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the 1st or 2nd Amendments, or the Declaration of Independence, and you’ll probably get a blank stare.
Do you know what the takeaway from that is? The Public-School Educational System did its job spectacularly in removing any civic pride young Americans have in their country, or any respect for what those who fought and died for this country, to preserve their liberty, accomplished. These young kids didn’t have their liberty, the natural rights protected by the 1st and 2nd Amendments, or the guarantees handed down to them through the Constitution, taken away. They gave them away while looking at their smart phones and living their lives on social media. Add to that a liberal sprinkling of hate for America taught to them by their educators. The youth of today are often more concerned about offending someone doing something clearly wrong than having their liberties encroached upon, liberties that were gained thought blood, sweat, and tears. The fact is, you can’t defend ideas, or ideals, if you don’t know the words.
It’s hard to keep the wolves at bay, the wolves that want to shut you up and make you defenseless, when half the society is agreeing with them. People fail to understand that they’re only safe until something they say or do runs afoul of the Revolution, and then their time is up.
How will the current crop of adults, ready to take the reins of government, business and finance, education, and society, understand the importance of the Constitution in the life of America when they know nothing about it? The, so-called, adults to this point – that would be us – have allowed anarchists and Marxists to take over our educational system and teach our children that America is evil. Our children believe it because they were never taught any real American history. In their ensuing ignorance they hit the streets and ripped down historical monuments, of which they had no understanding and helped to elevate thugs, such as George Floyd and the BLM leadership, to sainthood. They’ve never learned to question what was being fed to them, they just swallowed and became mindless dweebs crying about being called “he” or “she,” instead of “they,” or “Zee.”
In a caviler display of what’s wrong with our elected officials, when NJ’s Governor Phil Murphy was asked if he thought his COVID mandates, enacted through executive order, violated the rights of the people of New Jersey, he flippantly replied, ‘I didn’t give it much thought.’ In a further question about how his mandates played against the Bill of Rights, he replied, “The Bill of Rights is above my pay grade.” I wonder, then, how he was able to swear allegiance to the Constitution in the first sentence of his oath of office when he never had any intention of following through on such a promise? He should be thoroughly repudiated at the ballot box by the voters of New Jersey for that comment alone.
Seventy-Five years ago, eighteen-year-olds, and those even younger, who lied about their ages to defend liberty, were storming and dying on the beaches of France, fighting tyranny and fascism. Today our youth celebrate fascism in the streets by rioting and destroying private property, participate in the despotism that is cancel culture, and huddle in safe places when a stray word offends them. A garage door pulldown is mistaken for a noose by some poor idiot and it sends the NASCAR community into a tizzy requiring an investigation by 10 FBI agents. Meanwhile, a decorated black law enforcement retiree is shot point blank by, so-called, anti-Fascist rioters while trying to help guard his friend’s business establishment, and nobody bats an eye. Instead, these savants endlessly repeat the mantra of a thug in a drug-induced health crisis spewing, “I can’t breathe.”
You can’t exercise your natural, God-given rights, as defined by the Constitution if you know nothing about those rights and think those who do are troublemakers. Sadly, many of our Founders would not find a very warm welcome in 21st century America. In fact, I’ve watched and listened as people, both private citizens and elected officials, when questioned as to whether they thought there should be censorship and limits on free speech, answered in the positive, with no shame.
The author of the paper, “Anti-Federalist 15,” wrote this:
“…we should all impress with great care, this truth on our minds — That it is very easy to change a free government into an arbitrary one, but that it is very difficult to convert tyranny into freedom.”
John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States, wrote: “…Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrendered their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.”
I put it this way, “Liberty once surrendered is seldom, if ever, regained.”
One thought on “Whatever Happened to the Bill of Rights”
Progressives’ ideas of make up our rights as we go along is absurd.
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