Monday, November 4, 2013

1st Amendment At Risk -- #IAm1A Are You?

Recently, The Franklin Center published a video featuring Michelle Malkin, Kira Davis, Tabitha Hale, several "bloggers" and yours truly. If you haven't seen any of my previous videos and wonder what I look/sound like, my first appearance is at 1:40.

The Franklin Center video is a compilation of several video "rants" they asked certain people to provide. The short cameos of me come from the second video posted below. That particular video was my fifth "take". The second take was slightly shorter, had more of a punch, and contained more history and civics lessons from around the globe. But my microphone wasn't behaving. Two days later, I had to attempt to recreate that video. I don't usually script my videos. I set an outline down, do a couple of rehearsal rants, and record what ends up being mostly ad lib.


Here is the original video:

Since Matt Drudge started up "The Drudge Report", more and more people have taken to the internet to present news and entertainment. These days, social media sites such as YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like have created places for people to share items of interest.

People with smart-phones or digital video recorders can record anything they feel "noteworthy" and upload it for the world to see. You can search for "pre-teen" and "beatdown" and find over 100 results of fights. Some of these are recorded incidents of abuse, bullying, and self-defense. Some are parents play "wrestling" with their kids (sometimes called "tickle-fights"). Some are comical. Some are cute. Others are horrifying.

 What constitutes "news" these days is no longer up to the editors in old print media. More and more, "new media" is driving what is read in print media and what is "reported" in televised "mainstream media". People see things. They hear rumors. They are direct witnesses to events. They write about them in blogs. Better "bloggers" do in-depth research to corroborate such information. In essence, today's "blogger" is the same as a 1774-1791 era journalist. Back then, many journalists got news from talking to townsfolk, then corroborating, even directly witnessing events. They printed the stories. Other "rebroadcast" those stories at the local pub. Today, this happens through the internet.

People like to try to spin the First Amendment. It has several clauses made up of the individual natural rights many took for granted at the time the Constitution was written. The colonists had fought a long, bloody war to throw off the shackles of a tyrant who sought to take them away. To prevent that from happening again, the framers decided those rights needed to be blatantly addressed and preserved by the US Constitution.

Many came to the colonies to avoid religious and economic persecution. Among them were the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth. Others included the Quakers of which William Penn was a member. The colony of "Penn's Woods" or "Pennsylvania" was named for him and granted to the Quakers. So, the framers added the prohibition of the US Government to establish any single religious sect as "the" state religion. Even Utah cannot establish itself as a "Mormon State". The second clause prohibits the infringement of the god(s)-given natural right to worship (or not) in public or private in the manner of one's choosing. This means that a town may put up a cross, a menagerie, a menorah, a hole with a flag and two bunny ears sticking out of it (church of the bunny, yes a real religion folks, and they worship by playing golf and drinking beer), and a bale fire in their public city park. As long as any recognized religion files the proper paperwork and makes the observance safe, they are allowed to do so. It is unconstitutional to stop them.

The First Amendment also covers the freedoms of speech and press. These were created  to allow free citizens to expose corruption or express displeasure/disagreement with the government. This means the government's three branches (all of them) at every level from school district to municipal to county/parish to state to federal. Speech covers the spoken word. It also covers sign language, radio, audio, and video. Free press is the printed or published version. This is written words, published videos, or recorded audio clips that are transmitted later.

The amendment also allows citizens to gather, peacefully, to discuss the issues of the day and suggest improvements. Or they can gather to watch kids play a soccer game, though this can sometimes turn just as violent as an "Occupy" protest. This is the freedom of assembly.

If things are not being run correctly or they feel they are treated unjustly, citizens can petition the government for redress of grievances.

All of these were deprived of citizens under King George. In fact, Parliament attempted to arrest and incarcerate Benjamin Franklin for printing stories about several immoral acts done by British military officers and appointed governors (to include the Boston Massacre). The charge was "treason" for printing the truth.

226 years after the Constitution was scribed we have politicians who don't like the fact that anyone with an internet connection and writing abilities above third grade can publish accounts of what they experience, find in research, or hear from sources. Anthony Weiner was embarrassed by a "blogger". So was Senator Dianne Feinstein who was mocked and lampooned during her push to violate the Second Amendment. It was discovered she knew far less about firearms than her rhetoric claimed. So, several politicians, including local magistrates and municipal judges, are dismissing citizen journalists as "just a blogger" (now one of Michelle Malkin's preferred self-descriptions). In further attempts to demean those who "dare" to uncover and expose the truth rather than echo politicians' talking points and sound-bytes, several politicians at federal, state, and local levels are trying to force journalists to be "accredited and licensed".

That violates everything the First Amendment stands for.