Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Freedoms and Rights - Where The Line Blurrs

Pardon my ranting, but I'm getting a little sick of people who, the moment they are offended by something, start screaming "that's unconstitutional!" when it's perfectly clear that they have, at best, a passing knowledge of the Constitution.

The worst of the offenders I touched on a bit in my last post. Any group who uses the words 'separation of church and state' are either grossly misinformed or have never read any part of the Constitution. Those words, in that order, do not exist in any version of the Constitution I have ever seen. It's just another example of liberals in this country taking words and twisting them to mean what they want them to mean. The fact that they are using the most sacred document in this country to push their agenda is way beyond despicable.

The problem is, how do you fight it and not come off looking like you are against the Constitution? From where I sit, it can't be done. So we just have to find other ways to discredit their twisted agendas.

This next group I'm a bit hesitant to call out. Not just because they, for the most part, fall on my side of the spectrum, but because some of them are a little too heavily armed for my safety. The second amendment, as written, is archaic at best. The idea of armed citizens making up a militia in an emergency has passed. The founders, I'm sure, didn't wish this to be used to protect a few nutcases in a cabin somewhere, armed more heavily than the armies of some small nations. Being a former hunter myself (former not by objection, but by lack of land), it's a bit hard to admit that our shotguns were not what the founders had in mind. I'm sure that if we took our time, we could rewrite it to make everyone, if not happy, then content. The tripping block there is how necessarily difficult it is to get the Constitution changed.

This next one is a bit tricky. We seem to be awash with people who insist that it is their right to not be offended by anything or anyone. On the surface, that flies in the face of the other person's first amendment rights. In practice, however, this is not that simple. Everyone agrees that there are certain things that cannot be covered by the first amendment. Screaming "Fire!" in a crowded public place, for example, is not protected by the first amendment. Where that line is, however, is the key issue with these arguments.

I'll leave the FCC's obscene arguments alone for now. That's a bigger grey area than I wish to tackle right now. Nobody has really been able to clearly define where free speech ends. What makes matters worse, that line appears to be moving as well. Just look at our TV over the past thirty or so years. What was considered taboo back in the early 70's isn't anymore. There are certain things, while not obscene, just weren't shown or talked about then that are now. One good example is for the longest time, you never saw a toilet on air. Not an obscene object, but just something nobody was comfortable seeing on TV.

That seems to be a microcosm of this argument. What may have been considered in bad taste or taboo before isn't anymore. Naming is the hardest thing to pin down. People are constantly being offended by labels placed on them. We used to have labels for people that were merely descriptive which are now considered offensive. You will get slapped with a lawsuit before you can even finish speaking if you say someone is a cripple. Even medically correct terms are not accepted anymore. Apparently we have solved the problem of dwarfism because I haven't heard anyone talk about a dwarf in years.

To avoid major issues, I'll touch on this last label quickly and a bit comically. From now on, I think when I wish to refer to someone's race by describing their skin color, I'm just going to use myself as a guide. Someone is like me, lighter than me, or darker than me.

So where is the line? I'm not really sure we can even find it anymore. It has been buried under a mountain of legal battles and politically correct speech that I don't think we will ever find it again. It's not for a lack of trying though. Check any newspaper in the country and I will bet that you will find at least one lawsuit per week that has this argument at it's core.

So where does that leave us? As our melting pot continues to be added to with more and more diverse ingredients it appears to me that a middle ground may be impossible to find.

Perhaps we don't need a middle ground. Maybe if we all just give a little ground, accept that not everyone thinks or acts like we do, take a little less offense at our differences, we can take this country from a land of petty bickering and return it to the great nation it can be.

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