Michael Haskins

Monday, September 22, 2008

Do you know your First Amendment rights?

As a journalist/mystery writer, the following quote frightens me and holds various meanings, as it should to anyone that uses the written word to make a living or to blog. So many of our freedoms are in peril these days and way too many of us are willing to give them up for feeling secure when we fly or visit the mall or drive on our roads.

Personally, I think Homeland Security is made up of smoke and mirrors and security at our airports is still being run by the seat-of-its-pants, a fact that has been proven by the media that has been able to smuggle contraband aboard plans.

It is time that the American people - the farmers, the mechanics, cooks, servers, office workers, writers, journalists, white-collar, blue-collar and no-collar workers, executives and, most importantly, our elected officials – reread the Constitution; discuss it at home, at the workplace, at taverns, on TV specials, and bus stops.

It was written to protect us from the men and women in Washington and state capitols and in city hall chambers. It was written before we had labeled influence peddlers as lobbyists and before large corporation arranged whom we could vote for.

Time and history has shown that 200-years ago, our Founding Fathers were a lot smarter than our leaders are today. Maybe it wasn’t intelligence; maybe the Founding Fathers were just honest enough to be concerned about the future of their own children and families and wanted to protect them from British counter attacks against the freedoms their blood and sweat had won. Today, it's all about profits - as we are learning daily on the news.

The Founding Fathers had all the human frailties of the times, but created the greatest document in our short history and today there are those that would line item veto sections of the Constitution. And they will, if we the people do not fully understand what it is they are trying to have us give up and stand up and say “no!”

When I first read the following quote, it sent shivers through me! Just from what I've learned over the years, I didn't even doubt it. That was sad, in itself, but then I got to question what rights I have and am aware of, per the Constitution. I am ashamed to say I couldn't list too many and I think I am someone who follows local, national and international politics.

If the written word is important to you, by writing it or reading it, it is time to stop and think about the following quote and decide how you fit into it. Novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, and bloggers are all threatened and should pay attention because otherwise your right to petition may well be gone by the time you take notice!

Now I have to go and order a copy of the Constitution and re-learn all that stuff they tried to teach me in class that I knew was a waste of time because it would never involve itself in my life. Should I order one for you, too?

TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM . . . Monday, Sept. 22, 2008

State of the First Amendment 2008:
"Perhaps one reason so many [Americans] are not fearful of, or would even invite, government limits on the five freedoms is that so few of us can even name them.
"The survey found again this year that just 3 percent of those questioned could name 'petition' as one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. Only 'speech' was named by a majority of respondents, 56 percent. Less than 20 percent named religion (15 percent), press (15 percent) or assembly (14 percent). . . . 4 in 10 could not name any freedom--the highest such result in the survey's history.
"[These are] 'inalienable' rights for all, indeed--but in today's United States, rights that are unknown, unnamed, or even undefended, by many."
--Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, Washington, DC.
(For full survey results, see http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/pdf/SOFA2008survey.pdf )

1 comment:

Sling Words aka Joan Reeves said...

Hey, Michael, on my Oct. 6, Monday, blog post, I tag you for the "6 Book" meme: Blog about 6 book things about yourself.

Hope you have time to play. If not, it's cool.

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