The completely ridiculous attention paid to recent behavior exhibited by some NFL players has touched a nerve of mine. First of all, I am not addressing the players, their actions, nor their motivations; that has been more than amply discussed by many, and rather eloquently by both my co-conspirator Paul and our guest contributor Robert Kirby. Both of whom, I might add, have expressed feelings very similar to my own, and likely in a far more civilized fashion than I would have. What I am concerned about is the continued defense of these particular controversial actions by proclaiming them to be an issue of First Amendment rights. To those who hold that opinion, especially those who do so with an upturned nose and haughty air of condescension, I have two words:
In all honesty, that’s my sanitized response. What I’m actually thinking while you wax verbose from the pedestal you placed yourself upon is more like this:
(insert your favorite personally-insulting adjective here), please…
…followed by an eye-roll, of course. Why, you ask? Because it is contributing the the Constitutional illiteracy which in my opinion plagues our nation to a frightening degree. Here is the full text of the 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”
Let’s go back to the function the Bill of Rights. If you didn’t know this, know it now – the Bill of Rights does not, I repeat, does NOT list rights given to the citizens of the United States by the government. It recognizes rights our Founders felt were inherently held by the people, and specifically limits the federal government from violating them. There’s a huge difference between the two. The Bill of Rights exists to limit government power, not give the people power. One cannot give what one does not have, correct? To paraphrase, the entire document is essentially saying “…you have these rights, you’ve always had these rights, they are not ours to give, but yours, given to you by God, and we’re formally documenting this for all time in order to specifically limit the power of the government”.
Now, please return to the the text of the amendment and read the first five words again. Once again, even – read the first five words. Let them sink in.
“Congress shall make no law…”
Who does this limit? Congress. Who or what else is mentioned in the remainder of the text to indicate what follows also applies to others? Nothing. No one. Zero. Zip. Nada. All the nopes. Every single thing mentioned after those first five words only applies to Congress. What does that mean? It means if you are suffering consequences due to your words and/or actions, and those consequences are not being placed upon you by Congress, then claiming your First Amendment rights are being violated is absolutely incorrect. Doing so while holding it up like it is a holy relic which shields you from all criticism while you act as if anyone who disagrees with you is a heretical simpleton just makes you look foolish.
I expect many to disagree with my assessment. I invite your comments and discussion. For brevity’s sake I will include only one reference for those who wish to look elsewhere. The whole world is at your fingertips if you wish to seek further knowledge. Take a look at this article, which gives examples of various situations and how they would typically relate to the first amendment. Please note the first cited example perfectly describes the current situation involving the NFL and its ability to place limits on the behavior of players. Secondly, I would add this article was posted by a well-known bastion of leftist ideology, which certainly begs the question; If that “news” outlet doesn’t support your position on Constitutional grounds, do you really have a leg upon which to stand?
Please, I beg you, do not contribute to the continued dumbing-down of our society by jumping on this bandwagon! Learn what the Constitution actually states and means, do not buy into fallacies such as this. In my opinion, for decades now there have been those who have perverted the meaning of many Constitutional amendments through artifice and corruption, and they will continue to do so unless we educate ourselves and take corrective action. With that, I leave you with the words of one of my favorite Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson:
“On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit of the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”