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article imageOp-Ed: Constitutional Rights, Real and Imaginary

By Joseph Corica     May 16, 2012 in Politics
"You can't do that to me! I'm an American citizen, buddy!"
So proclaims the big albatross in a popular children's movie, to much laughter and approval from the audience.
But underneath the humor of his protests lies a subconscious kernel of truth that the joke assumes the audience is familiar with: Americans expect to be treated better than citizens of 'other countries', because we are guaranteed what we call 'Constitutional Rights'.
In an age of big money, corporate interests, and top-dollar commanding most of the sound bytes we hear on TV, a lot of ideas get floated around--and I think this leads to some confusion about what our 'Constitutional rights' actually are. Most Americans today are chasing after a set of rights that are completely counterfeit, and forfeiting their actual Constitutional rights in the process. I will try to summarize some of these in the space below:
REAL: You have the freedom to worship God in whatever way you choose. The state cannot force churches to make doctrinal statements of any kind, nor can the state force individuals to practice any religion whatsoever. This concept is known as "Separation of Church and State".
(1st Amendment,
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.)
Forfeiture: Obamacare forces churches to fund abortion and contraception, even though this goes against church doctrine. New laws are being passed to force churches to be accepting of gay marriages regardless of church doctrine on the subject.
IMAGINED: You have the right to an atheistic public life. Your government and public officials cannot acknowledge God or religion of any kind. This could not be further from the truth, but this is the 'right' many Americans clamor for.
Explanation: Because the real Constitutional right (listed above) coined the phrase 'separation of church and state', conniving minds took this phrase and turned the meaning on its head. Instead of setting the church free from the state, they attempt to construe the idea to mean the state must be free from the influence of God and religion, regardless of the personal beliefs of the individual in office. This leads us to ridiculous confrontations about Ten Commandments statues in front of courthouses and the like.
IMAGINED: You have the right to force religious institutions to condone your sexual habits and relationships under the title and holy bond of matrimony.
Explanation: Some people call their relationships a 'marriage' and have it recognized as such by the church. Some relationships receive no such recognition. This seems unfair to those left out and they have attempted to make it into a 'civil rights' issue. However, as shown above, the State cannot dictate doctrine to the church. It's true that a couple cannot be forced to accept any religion, but neither can any religion be forced to accept any couple. That's the reality of the situation.
REAL: You have the right to say what you think, and to use the media to do it.
IMAGINED: You have the right to never be offended. Nobody is free to make a statement if you disagree with it strongly enough.
REAL: You can buy weapons. As many as you feel necessary. And carry them, too. The federal government can't stop you.
(2nd Amendment,
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.)
Forfeiture: The government infringes greatly today on what kinds of arms can be purchased, kept, and carried by average citizens.
IMAGINED: You have the right to be protected from danger by a uniformed team of tax-funded guards at all times.
Explanation: The REAL right granted by the second amendment is discouraged, and the 'radical' notion that you are responsible for your own personal safety is no longer in favor. It gives the individual much power, you see, so a neutered version of security has come along to replace it: uniformed people are responsible for your security. Let them do whatever they say is necessary. Unfortunately, many Americans have fallen for this 'right to be babysat by the state'.
REAL: You have the right to be left alone. The government cannot search nor seize anything you own or carry on your person without a warrant, and those only issued with probable cause supported by an oath (or affirmation). Even then, the warrant must specify who or what is being searched for and what will be seized if it is found.
(4th Amendment,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.)
IMAGINED: You have the right to be free from fear of random violence.
Explanation: Random violence being by very nature *ahem* RANDOM, it is impossible for the State to grant you this imaginary right without trampling all over the REAL right guaranteed in the Constitution. This is why the Federally-employed TSA can strip you naked and poke you wherever they take a notion, despite the fact that anyone else touching in such manner would be accused of molestation or rape. Sadly, once again America has chosen to pursue bogus, imaginary rights in lieu of her true rights.
REAL: You have the right to a trial by jury. This trial is to be quick and public. You cannot be forced to testify against yourself. You have the right to know what the charges are brought against you and to a lawyer.
(5th Amendment,
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
6th Amendment
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.)
IMAGINED: You have the right to incarcerate suspicious folks.
Explanation: the "technicalities" of the Constitution can be gotten around in time of war or emergency, as provided in the text above. Because of this, the government has simply implemented a state of perpetual emergency and war since 2001. This paves the way for things like the NDAA, which openly announce that the government can kill or capture any citizen deemed suspicious, without trial or charges. This is all brought to us under the guise of 'keeping us safe', and sadly many Americans have fallen for this.
We still talk about being the "land of the free, home of the brave", but in actuality nobody considers what we're supposed to be free from or what we're supposed to be brave about.
We are supposed to be free from government tyranny and braving the dangers inherent to such a lifestyle.
Instead, we have accepted these bogus "rights".
We are free from individual responsibility and "braving the dangers" of tyrannical government.
Our forefathers gave us better than this. True freedom is being taken from us, and in its place we receive a cheap counterfeit. It is our duty to protect our heritage--not these phony "rights" being substituted for our birthright.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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