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J. KARL MILLER: Is the First Amendment absolute?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

"Congress shall make no law respecting the 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" reads the First Amendment to the Constitution. Are those provisions inviolate and set in stone, or may they be abridged judiciously in those rare instances where good judgment and restraint must trump literal interpretation?

In recent weeks, controversies over issues of religion and speech have posed a question: "Is it not time for judicial restraint to enable judgment and common sense to prevail?" Three such areas are the proposed construction of a mosque near ground zero, declaring the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and the finding by U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan that Missouri's laws restricting protests during funerals violate the right of free speech.

As for the right to construct a mosque near ground zero or at any other location, most concede that the Constitution not only enables that construction but also enjoins the government from interfering. The freedom of religion clause being unmistakably clear, where is the rationale for challenge?

While an inalienable right to perform an act may exist, the propriety may be open to question—is it appropriate to do so? To many, particularly those who lost loved ones or are survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center, or who are residents of New York, that is hallowed ground—its memory to be preserved with dignity and respect. The sensitivity of the circumstances creating ground zero must be considered and respected by people of all faiths—condemning as bigots or racists those opposed to the mosque is no different than denouncing its proponents as endorsing terrorism.

The solution will require the wisdom of a Solomon and a dollop of adult cooperation—in the end, possessing the right to do something does not render it right to do so. To many, erecting a mosque at ground zero equates to locating a Hooters in Mecca—insensitivity exists in the eyes of the beholder. No one has asked me, but the resentment for that location of the mosque will endure far longer than the displeasure in agreeing to its relocation—compromise anyone?

The utter absurdity of this 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling: "Given our historical skepticism of permitting the government to police the line between truth and falsity, we presumptively protect all speech including false statements that protected speech may flourish in the shelter of the First Amendment" should be a wake-up call to all of us. In ruling the Stolen Valor Act (falsely claiming military honors) unconstitutional, the panel implanted a "right to lie" in the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, this is not without precedent—we see this failing enacted in practice by legislators on both sides of the aisle and even by a chief executive who taught our youngsters that "truth" depends upon the meaning of "is." Given its nearly perfect record in being overturned by the Supreme Court, we can hope the 9th Circuit's ruling in favor of pretenders will not stand. As a nation, we cannot afford to relegate truth to the rubbish that is moral relativism.

Lastly, but equally frustrating, is the overturning of the Missouri laws barring protests near any funeral service for an hour before and an hour after the ceremony, procession or memorial service and requiring the protesters to remain at least 300 feet away. This decision was occasioned by an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. (an entity even more obnoxious than the Vikings' Brett Favre or Miami's LeBron James). Judge Gaitan stated a sympathy for the funeral goers but admitted his hands were tied by precedent.

Most Americans agree that freedom of speech is so precious that they are willing to err on the side of the precept of its inviolate nature. But, the notion that all speech is protected fails to consider Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' metaphor in Schenck v. United States: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." Consequently, if panic-inciting speech can be restricted, why is it that indecent and vulgar language of a nature to cause undue suffering among already grieving persons cannot also be a target for prohibition?

The idea that enforcing protection for those mourning their war dead against the reprehensible conduct of those chanting "God hates fags" and claiming military war deaths are the Deity's retribution for embracing homosexuality will set a precedent further eroding the First Amendment is asinine. Embracing such obvious criminal conduct as a "freedom of expression" is not compatible with my America.

Finally, I am not a believer in a "living Constitution"; instead, I am a strict constructionist. Nevertheless, the framers did not intend the Constitution as a vehicle for ignoring judgment, common sense, personal conduct and an accepted standard of mores to negotiate a path for its destruction.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.


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Comments

Tim Dance August 25, 2010 | 12:48 a.m.

Where to start....oh first Colonel, If the speech is not slanderous, libel, or endangers others. (yelling fire in a theater), then it's none of the government business.
Secondly this "hallowed" ground also has a porno store, strip joint, and an OTB about the same distance from the WTC site. Apparently you cons have no problem having that filth desecrating the memories of those who died.
This is a NYC zoning issue. People had been praying nearby for years. Everyone had signed off on this until one wing-nut blogger starts to make a stink. This issue is about stirring up fear and hate. You are just perpetuating that fear Colonel. I know it's election year and want to get your base out to vote.

Also your last paragraph takes the cake

"ignoring judgment, common sense, personal conduct and an accepted standard of mores"

Who's judgment?.....common sense is in the eye of the beholder....who defines personal conduct or mores. The majority? Sorry the framers added the Bill of Rights to protect the minority from the fear mongering majority like yourself.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 25, 2010 | 6:14 a.m.

I seem to recall that our civics teachers spent more than a little class time explaining the difference between "freedom" and "license." There IS a difference, you know.

Passion for the First Amendment is indeed a fine thing, but do you suppose we could stir up a modicum of passion for the Tenth Amendment, especially the part about "the people."

(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen August 25, 2010 | 8:40 a.m.

I don't understand the Brett Farve hate.

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Gregg Bush August 25, 2010 | 10:22 a.m.

The great thing about Rights as protected in the Constitution - they're not up for popular opinion or a vote.
That's why they're called Rights.
While sometimes Rights get forfeited, like after the commission of a crime, it hasn't happened in this situation yet.
Finally, it is foolish to use cities in the undemocratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabian as "stand ins" for New York City. Our Constitution, our treatment of women, and our separation of church and state makes this a better country. A prayer room is no Hooters, and the US is not the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
I like our Republic and Constitution, thank you very much. They are powerful enough to withstand a Shinto shrine near Pearl Harbor.
http://www.religion-online.org/showartic...

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 25, 2010 | 4:17 p.m.

If your personal actions become upsetting to others to the point where it causes those other people undue distress,duress,discomfort or peace of mind then you are at that time forfeiting your First Amendment Rights to Freedom of Speech.

Even though this judge shut this down in Missouri the Police,Sheriff's Dept,State Patrol or any Law Enforcement Agency can still give you a ticket for all of the offenses they did before this judge ruled on this Missouri issue.

Go ahead try to be disruptive to others in a fashion causing any of the above kinds of distress in someone or a group in a open public venue or a private venue such a Military Funeral and see how fast Law Enforcement first kindly tells you to move along and after you refuse and continue your unwarranted behavior they slap you up with a ticket and then with cuffs if you do not cease and desist.

The First Amendment was not put in place to be abused by either the radical left,right,center nor any religious organization or pseudo religious group but it was put into place to be there to help responsible enough and mature enough citizens to be able to speak up maturely and intelligently on the issues that concern us all.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 25, 2010 | 8:19 p.m.

And just what charges other than maybe disturbing the peace may the police charge me with if I decided to follow someone downtown on public property and say mean, nasty things about them? It wouldn't be polite, and it might be foolish if the person I was talking about decided to up the ante, but public expression on public property is a pretty clear right under the First Amendment. You do not have the right to not be offended by my speech.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 25, 2010 | 11:08 p.m.

First Amendment or not, being offended by someone's speech is optional. You can choose not to be offended.

Doing so may even have its rewards. It may very well irk or even anger the person or persons trying to offend you. Poor babies!

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 26, 2010 | 5:37 a.m.

@John Schultz did ya ever hear of the charge of stalking. Try catching that on your record....lol.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 26, 2010 | 8:23 a.m.

How about you post the language of the state ordinance and let's see how relevant it is to the hypothetical situation?

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 26, 2010 | 8:49 a.m.

@John Schultz No I want you to go out and try what you said above since you are a Constitutionalists and see how far your Freedom of Speech excuse lasts in court or how far you can take it if needed to. After all you will be standing up for your civil and Constitutional Rights for Freedom of Speech.

nuff said.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 26, 2010 | 9:27 a.m.

Here's the relevant state statute that you couldn't be bothered looking up:

http://moga.mo.gov/statutes/C500-599/565...

How about we meet downtown some afternoon with a CPD officer? I'll carry a sign that says "I'm with stupid" and call you some choice names to hurt your widdle feelings, and we'll see if Johnny Law considers that stalking.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller August 26, 2010 | 10:47 a.m.

Mr Dance, your tolerance for any opinion that does not conform to your own is underwhelming to say the least. Apparently your distaste for "cons" has beclouded your vision for objectivity to the extent that you are able to find a "bogeyman" where one does not exist. Your insinuation that we "cons" are comfortable with the existence of porno stores, strip joints and an OTB near Ground Zero is neither relevant nor factual. The fact remains that, along with the proposed mosque, regardless of how distasteful, they all enjoy a Constitutional right to exist.

I made that point: to wit, "As for the right to construct a mosque near ground zero or at any other location, most concede that the Constitution not only enables that construction but also enjoins the government from interfering." Accordingly, does conceding the right to construct the mosque but questioning the propriety thereof automatically mark those who express misgivings as bigots and fearmongers?


I encourage you to reread the column and point out one instance of "stirring up fear and hate to get my base out to vote." You might even discover that, along with the right wing nuts you disparage, there are even a few liberal Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean who oppose the mosque also.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 26, 2010 | 11:20 a.m.

@John Schultz you miss the point as usual. When you invade somebody's personal space you just gave up your freedom of whatever and just put yourself in the position of being a total jerk in the public eye. It is the same with the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. protesting at Military Funerals.

Now some will take the upholding of the Constitution to the extreme of the ancient Sadducee and Pharisee of the Biblical days yet they themselves still do just the opposite of what they preach to the public. We see a lot of the former in all faucets of our City,County,State and Federal Government Politicians and Pseudo Political types on a daily basis. Which one of you has not broken any rule of the Constitution throw the first stone.

This issue with this Mosque is on a far bigger scale I will liken to wanting to put another Black Eye on the face of America.

Nice post J Karl Miller.

I relinquish my time on the Soap Box to the next poster in line.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 26, 2010 | 12:03 p.m.

Can words ever invade your personal space if you're on a public sidewalk on Ninth Street? I'm not saying that calling someone "bad things" is not being a jerk, but it is also protected by the Constitution when on public property. I don't like the Westboro nuts, but the law that Missouri's legislature passed was clearly unconstitutional and pandering in the first degree.

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Carlos Sanchez August 26, 2010 | 3:46 p.m.

@John Schultz what if unknowingly though you are harassing a person with a Mental Disability who might be perhaps Paranoid Delusional and you set them off.

What if there was a Vet at a Military funeral and they had PTSD and you were yelling war obscenities at the funeral procession and it set off their issues and all of a sudden that person comes yelling at you that he is going to kill you because you set in place a scenario that causes that Vet to have a serious Flash Back. What if that Vet's family was outraged at the same time.

What if John.

This could happen anywhere at any time John is what we as a society must think about when it comes to using or abusing our First Amendment Rights.

The Missouri Law that was over turned and those who wrote it obviously were thinking of these types of issues that could occur at a Full Military Funeral while the Judge could only see one side of the bigger issue. That is the problem with judges these days on this issue of Freedom Of Speech especially concerning all Military Funerals.

There are those who suffer grave Emotional and Mental Issues who have proudly served our country who do not deserved to be berated nor traumatized further by those such as the Westboro Church fanatics.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 26, 2010 | 4:53 p.m.

That doesn't seem a good enough reason to me to limit someone's First Amendment rights on public property. It also doesn't seem to be illegal under the stalking statute that I linked earlier.

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Carlos Sanchez August 26, 2010 | 5:34 p.m.

@John Schultz nothing is ever good enough for you because like most Libertarians you strain the knat but swallow the camel. The Sadducee and the Pharisee did the same thing with politics long ago. Some things in the political world never do change.

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tom kelly August 26, 2010 | 9:06 p.m.

Yes, and the right-wing solution to every maniac who abuses free speech, is to whittle away at the Constitution. The Constitution isn't just for Libertarians. But, maybe they're the only ones who understand it.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. --Thomas Jefferson

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John Bliss August 26, 2010 | 10:52 p.m.

Colonel, you make some great points! Mr.Dance, the one you replied to needs to know that it is thanks to You, and fellow marines and soliders that served to preserve these rights. Thank you again for ALL YOUR YEARS of Service! About the Mosque and protests at funerals, COMMON SENSE should prevail, NO!

(Report Comment)
Vincent Cacioppo August 27, 2010 | 12:42 a.m.

As far as I'm concerned, the pro mosque misfits that are alienating the 70% of Americans that are against this mosque by calling them shameful bigots and racists, are hijacking the first amendment with their strict interpretation, and are no different than the fundementalist terrorists that strictly interpret the koran, call non believers or non conformists infidels, and flew planes into the WTC and the pentagon on 9/11/01. It is NO COINCIDENCE that they both ignore humanity and cling to their strict doctrine.

As for the first comment by mr dance, porno stars, strippers, and gamblers DID NOT fly planes into the WTC, because if they did, we would be against them being there too. The only filth desecrating the victims of 911 is the stupidity of people that are for building this mosque at ground zero.

Imagine if at the opposite side of a murdered loved one's headstone, there would be put another headstone, engraved with the murderer's reasons for why he shouldn't be blamed and should be forgiven. Absolutely disgusting and horrifying. That ENTIRE AREA is a grave site to thousands of people that did not find even a FINGERNAIL of an innocent, murdered, loved one to bury. The inhumanity of these pro mosque misfits is stunning and really illuminates who they really are.

Not ONE SINGLE MOSQUE has been prevented from being built ANYWHERE since 911, and this country has cracked down on anti islamic behavior since 9/12/2001. There is already a mosque a few blocks away for people working in the area, but there is not a muslim community there, so why build this enormous, 13 story, out of place mosque/community center there?
So cowardly, pro mosque, leftwing misfits, hiding behind the first amendment, that are calling the families of 911 victims, or anyone else opposing the mosque, anti American and should be ashamed of themselves, ARE the ones that should be ashamed of themselves.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 27, 2010 | 5:54 a.m.

Vincent, maybe the editors will consider re-formatting your remarks as a column, to counter some garbage that appeared in the Missourian a little over a week ago.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 27, 2010 | 6:49 a.m.

Vincent, are you one of those conservatives who talks about private property rights until it's not convenient for you? The Muslim group bought the property from a legit seller and as long at they meet the zoning and other regulations NYC has, they have every right to build their center. There are already two overflowing mosques within blocks of that site, which is why they are trying to build a larger building, contrary to your claim of there being no Muslim community in the area. There are also no victim remains at the location they are going to build upon. It may not be politically-correct to build the mosque where they are, but your reasons for denying it are built upon mistruths and bias.

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Gregg Bush August 27, 2010 | 9:09 a.m.

I am not ashamed of my Constitution, my Bill of Rights or my Republic. I am neither ashamed of our First Amendment, in general, nor the Establisment Clause, in particular. I am not ashamed of the Muslim prayer group in the Pentagon.
I am not ashamed of my service to this country.
Rights are not about public opinion. The First Amendment enshrines your right to voicing your opinion...or maybe you'd like to put that up to a vote? "70% of America voted and decided to restrict your freedom of speech." Nothing sounds less like our great country.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 27, 2010 | 10:46 a.m.

Gregg, I wonder how many people would carp about that 70% figure if it was public opposition to a house of worship that their own faith wanted to build?

(Report Comment)
Vincent Cacioppo August 28, 2010 | 1:26 a.m.

Shultz, are you a liberal that interprets constitutional rights according to how well it serves your own selfish needs? I'm sure you would be all for the use of eminent domain if the endangered Piping Plover landed and starting nesting on a conservative's property, immediately forbidding him to use the area. What's that you say? It's already happened. And the only bright side is that if the Plover lands on a leftwinger's land, he'll be screwed too. And here are many more examples.

http://www.proconservative.net/PCVol12Is...

Leftwing, US Gov, enviro-mentals that belong to the democratic party and will come onto YOUR PROPERTY and tell you what YOU CAN and CANNOT DO with it. So please, the both of you, get off your bogus strict fundamentalist soapbox rants.
Here we are talking about the suffering of other human beings, their innocent loved ones, incinerated on 911 by the actions of extremist muslims, and supported by 70% of this country, and you shamelessly cling to the first amendment. I too, am not ashamed of my country because freedom of speech DOES NOT give me the right to yell FIRE in a crowded theater, just like property rights DO NOT give you the right to build a homeless shelter next to a playground, or a mosque on the sight of the worst murderous attack by muslim fanatics on the American homeland in our history.

The mosque developer has been offered bigger, better locations just a few blocks away and they have refused, so please stop humiliating yourself with your lame defense of these developer's property rights. We want them to build it, just a few blocks away is all we ask, so we can make sure they let muslims of EVERY gender, race, and sexual persuasion worship there...

Did you know why this mosque was proposed by the Cordoba Initiative? Google Cordoba Spain and figure it out yourself. And that the Imam responsible for this travesty is on a tax payer funded trip on behalf of our OBAMA/CLINTON State Department, to drum up funding to build it! how nice!. What happened to liberals and their decades of breathless bloviating of separation of church and state? Boyscouts, no gov funds, muslim developers, we'll help you build anyway we can with taxpayer dollars!. That's anti American, liberal democrat hypocricy for all to see. Here's some more information for you to ignore.

http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-i...

The one thing I can assure you is that this issue will backfire on the left and help to end the 50 year leftwing monopoly of our media. In the words of Admiral Yamamoto - "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 28, 2010 | 3:39 a.m.

Building the aforementioned Islamic center where they want may be in somewhat poor taste, given the political climate, but they have every right to do it. The US is supposed to be a nation of religious tolerance. The vast majority of American Muslims feel the 9/11 was an attack on them, also.

DK

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 28, 2010 | 6:41 a.m.

@Mark Foecking The vast majority of American Muslims feel the 9/11 was an attack on them, also.

Oh really then how come they do not have more respect for their fellow Americans in this issue and build it elsewhere?

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan August 28, 2010 | 6:44 a.m.

Defending the free exercise of religion is profoundly different from killing 3,000 people. To say that a supporter of First Amendment liberties is “no different than the fund[a]mentalist terrorists that . . . flew planes into the WTC and the pentagon on 9/11/01” trivializes 9/11, defiles its victims, and degrades the Constitution. Yelling and name-calling do not strengthen the argument.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 28, 2010 | 8:50 a.m.

This subject seems to have taken on a life of its own.

The mosque/community center will either be built near Ground Zero or it won't.

Militant Muslims will either celebrate the building of the mosque near Ground Zero, or they won't. That decision is theirs alone.

The First Amendment is not on life support or anywhere near it.

I'd also like to clear up this business of whether President Obama is a Muslim.

Muslim engineers I've worked with have - very patiently - explained to me that ALL living human beings are Muslims*. It's just that some of us are too dense to figure out that we're really Muslims.

On that basis, President Obama is by their definition a Muslim - and so is every other United States citizen.

See you at the mosque.

*- That's a VERY INTERESTING proposition.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 28, 2010 | 9:14 a.m.

@Ellis Smith ALL living human beings are Muslims

Actually if we want to be technical about their theology they are wrong since according to even their own records they acknowledge Abraham as the father of us all so really they should be claiming everybody as Abrahamites not Muslims.

(Report Comment)
Vincent Cacioppo August 28, 2010 | 1:41 p.m.

@ Daniel - So defending the free exercise of religion is different than killing 3000 Americans? How is that different, if the muslim extremists were exercising their strict religious interpretation of the Koran when they hijacked 4 airliners and murdered 3000 Americans in just a few hours?
And as far as yelling and name calling, why don't you grow up and take your own advice of strenthening the argument instead of pointing out one misspelled word from an entire reply. This is commentary, not a spelling bee, and usually the last resort of a losing argument is to spell check.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 29, 2010 | 11:05 p.m.

Yo Vince! I've gathered signatures (and will do so again, after the elections in November) to put some real teeth in Missouri's statutes protecting private property rights, regardless if the landowner is liberal, conservative, or something else.

I'm going to guess that by your links you consider yourself a conservative, but what true conservative would sell out the Bill of Rights for a political victory? What conservative would talk about the sanctity of private property, but deny that right to those they disagree with? Oh, that's right, most Republicans. That's what I'm a Libertarian; we have principles and we stick to them. Your liberal paint brush won't cover me, bucko.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan August 30, 2010 | 8:29 p.m.

Vincent Cacioppo asked, "So defending the free exercise of religion is different than killing 3000 Americans? How is that different[?]"

Because when I defend your right to the free exercise of religion, it does not kill 3000 people. When terrorists flew planes into buildings, it killed 3,000 people. Killing is different from not killing--pretty simple, really.

BTW, not all the 3,000 were Americans. Many were foreign nationals, which is one reason why the terrorists picked the World Trade Center. It was an attack on all humanity.

(Report Comment)
Vincent Cacioppo August 30, 2010 | 11:15 p.m.

Shultz, I didn't sell out the Bill of Rights, but you most certainly sold me out. Where did I say in any of my replies that I'm against them building ANY mosque, anywhere? Talk about selling people out for a political victory. Nice try, but you didn't get away with it, bucko.
And theoretically, Libertarians are anarchists and against government intervention of anykind, yet, you want to strenthen property rights that would be enforced by who? The government? Tisk tisk, what hypocricy.

(Report Comment)
Vincent Cacioppo August 31, 2010 | 12:11 a.m.

@Daniel - You said "Because when I defend your right to the free exercise of religion, it does not kill 3000 people." And to that I say it may have been true on 9/10/2001, but to continue to say that statement is true and an absolute right on 9/12/2001 is negligent and wrong because like I said, they were exercising their religious beliefs on 9/11/2001. They even used mosques to communicate in secrecy during the planning phases of 9/11.
They can practice any religion they want, and no one is denying them that right. But I feel they lost the right to practice their religion on the site where 3,000 human beings where murdered by fanatic followers of that religion. And as of today, 71% of Americans want them to move it.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 31, 2010 | 2:06 a.m.

J. Karl Miller; is not the brightest bulb in the closet.......

J. Karl Miller: "Finally, I am not a believer in a "living Constitution"; instead, I am a strict constructionist. Nevertheless, the framers did not intend the Constitution as a vehicle for ignoring judgment, common sense, personal conduct and an accepted standard of mores to negotiate a path for its destruction."

And apparently what Mr. Miller does not understand since he is not a believer in a "living Constitution", or rather in the "Spirit of The Constitution" and he is a believer in a "strict construction" of the Constitution or rather a believer in the Textual Meaning Of The Constitution (by his own admission); is that he can not interpret the intent of the framers, he can only interpret the definition of their texts.

I myself am a "Textualist", and I believe that when one says that the Constitution is a "living and breathing document"; it is only so that they may easily try to change what was intended to only be changed in the most extreme circumstances.

The law is the law, as it reads, and should be written as plainly as possible. When the law is written in plain terms so that even a layman may understand it and is reasonable; there is rarely a need to change it.

In the USA; you don't get to take a person's rights away because they do something you don't like! In the USA; you don't get to take a person's rights away because their beliefs do not line up with your strongly held beliefs. In the USA; you don't get to take a person's rights away because you can not fathom or understand why they want to do something that you perceive in your little mind as wrong.

While you may not like what another person may choose to do to exercise their Constitutional rights; you have an obligation to look beyond your dislikes and discomforts to protect those rights of that other person; because those rights belong to you also and not everyone may agree with how you choose to exercise your rights either.......

That is the bottom line on our Constitutional Rights!

Ricky Gurley

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 31, 2010 | 5:48 a.m.

Aw c'mon, Rick, compared to certain other local columnists Karl is a veritable genius.

[signed]Joe (Where are we having lunch in September? Anywhere is fine with me - as long as we don't discuss the First Amendment.)

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 31, 2010 | 6:18 a.m.

@Vincent Cacioppo love your posts and keep on keeping it real.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 31, 2010 | 6:38 a.m.

Well "Ellis", what you posted is true. Compared to certain other columnists, Mr. Miller is a genius!

But......

Compared to other serial killers, Charles Manson is a saint... ;o) But he is still a serial killer!

What is irritating to me is how people would like to change the Constitution to suit their individual perceptions of right and wrong. That is an arrogance beyond toleration. As if these people have a lock on what is right and what is wrong, and their sense of right and wrong should outweigh anyone else's rights....

The Constitution is actually a pretty simple document. It's meaning can be easily understood, and it's value is beyond any monetary figure we could put on it; because it is the cornerstone of what makes our country so great and our people so free.

Once that concept is so easily tampered with, we start down a slippery slope towards tearing the very fabric of "the people's" freedom. So, when we are considering the 10th amendment and the phrase "we the people", we need to understand that when one person, or a group of people, or our government can so easily fit such valuable documents as the Constitution to their own perceptions of what is right and wrong, we begin to lose the very meaning of "we the people".......

Ricky Gurley

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 31, 2010 | 11:22 a.m.

Vincent, if you are a conservative as I surmise from your comments, do you feel it is conservative behavior to tell someone what they may legally build on their own private property? Here's your quote from your first post:

"We want them to build it, just a few blocks away is all we ask"

Sure seems like you believe in private property rights a lot less than myself!

If you think the imam and his folks in NYC should not build on the site they purchased legitimately (and have owned since before 9/11 I believe), then make them a monetary offer they can't refuse or pipe down. You don't own the land, you can't make them not build the mosque.

As for Libertarians, some are anarchists and some are minarchists who believe in a much smaller (but still existing) government than we have now. I count myself in the latter category. I still see courts of some sort in a libertarian society, as well as some other similar services, but certainly not the extent to which governments have been bloated.

(Report Comment)
Jarrett Terrill November 13, 2010 | 8:53 p.m.

As I am a proponent of free speech in civilized forms, let me first say that I respect Mr. Miller's right to his opinion and offer him congratulations on his ability to espouse that opinion in the Missourian. However, I'd like to throw some of my own flavor into this pot while it still simmers. Two concepts seem to have evaded not only Mr. Miller but also every single person who left a comment on this thread:
1) The reason that the reactionary law against the Westboro Baptists' protests is unconstitutional is because it doesn't protect ALL funerals, but rather awards military funerals with a "special right" that poor Mathew Shepard's mother would not be afforded. Let us not forget exactly why the Westboro Baptists do their thing in the first place.

2)Has anyone decided just how big of a circumference the so-called "Ground Zero" is? Because, according to the talking heads over at MSNBC (yes, your groaning was audible), the community center was planned for 3 or 4 blocks away to begin with. Furthermore, rumor has it that the World Trade Center had an actual Mosque in it when terrorists struck it down... Now, how is THAT for irony? But most importantly, my fellow readers, are you aware that the largest advocacy campaigns on BOTH sides of the "Ground Zero Mosque" debate are funded by Fox News and Fox News? Oh my... Could that mean Rupert Murdoch and Alwaleed bin Talal have a good grip on your puppet strings? Me thinks they do!

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