Thursday, September 27, 2007

1st Amendment: part 2

1st Amendment…Part 2
“Congress shall make no law…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.”

"The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish."
Robert H. Jackson

Freedom of Speech, how far does it go? What are the limits? Should there be limits? What is the responsibility of law enforcement.

It would seem contradictory that we have such a clear statement from the Bill of Rights when compared with laws such inciting a riot, harassment, and even treason. Colorado Revised Statutes 18-11-201 Advocating overthrow of government is a class 5 felony.

Reasonable limits were set of Free Speech in 1919 with the decision written by Justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."

So apply that statement to the following story

Please note the source:
The American Conservative

When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.” The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free-speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech. The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president’s path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented, “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone. If the Bush administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind.”

I couldn’t say it better myself so I will say it again “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone.”

For those of us on the front lines of law enforcement will always be put in difficult positions. We are the most visible face of the government. When the powers that be overstep their authority, they will delegate it to us.

The Democratic National Convention will be in Denver August 25-28 2007. The organizers ( and the protesters ( are working diligently for this event.

Decisions about my department’s involvement in the DNC are being made far above my pay grade. I get to do what I am told or face the consequences. I am talking to the command and asking about these issues. I may be a pawn in the big scheme by I can ask questions and make by concerns known over coffee and a doughnut. When the big day comes, we will all make decisions and we will live with the consequences.

In order for our American society to work we need more expression. As much as I personally think that Swaggartt, Dobson and Haggard the rest of God’s little helpers are causing unbelievable damage to the country, I will support their right to speak and I will sit here on my little blog and speak because the cure for bad speech is more speech.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing as S. G. Tallentyre in 1906 (commonly attributed to Voltaire, of whom Hall wrote a biography).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First Freedom First trailer

This is what it is all about

1st Amendment: part 1

Amendment I
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.

Lets take on the first clause today.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

What are the comments made by the founders regarding this issue?

James Madison: “The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

President Thomas Jefferson: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”

This does seem fairly straight forward. Throughout history, just about every religion has had it's moment of power. Most of the time the line between church and state became fuzzy or completely erased. In every instance I could find in my research, the church has used its power to promote it self and damage competing ideas.

The State is not innocent. Politicos have used the perceived legitimacy of the Church to secure power and wealth as well as banish, imprison and kill adversaries.

It has been said "A gentleman will neither discuss religion or politics." Why, because someone is going to get bloody. These are the two most powerful forces in the world. Between the two, they have shaped the majority of human history. When forces this powerful combine the only result has been bloodshed.

What religion are the American people?


Top Ten ORGANIZED Religions in the United States, 2001
ARIS Study
[Nonreligious, Atheist, Agnostic have been dropped from this list.]
Christianity 76.5%
Judaism 1.3%
Islam 0.5%
Buddhism 0.5%
Hinduism 0.4%
Unitarian Universalist 0.3%
Wiccan/Pagan/Druid 0.1%
Spiritualist 0.05%
Native American Religion 63 0.05%
Baha'i 0.04%

This shows why nearly all 1st Amendment lawsuits are against the Christian majority, in defence of the 23.5% non-Christan minority.

What are some of the current issues dealing with this part of the 1st amendment?

I am all for people engaged in all types of philosophical thought and discussion. Those who believe in the Native American belief that the earth is supported on the back of a turtle, they should seek evidence and engage in discussion. Likewise those who believe the universe was created in 6 days by a Deity, they should conduct research and host discussion. However this is done at your expense, done in your church or open public forum. This is entirely consistent with the 1st Amendment.
Consistent with the remaining amendment's, the 1st amendment grants power to the people and protection from the government. That is why the second half of the clause states "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Most of the legal action we see deals with the Church getting involved with the State so people forget that the Church is equally protected from State interference. These few words are all that protect our Muslim neighbors in our post 9-11 America as well as the remaining 23.5%. The schools and other government bodies are protected from the influence of the church just as the Church is protected from the influence and pressure of our government.

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the best foundation I can think of for beginning this blog. Having been a cop for 11 years and in instructor for 7, I have found that one of the main areas of weakness in officers is one of the most important, constitutional law. The oath we took specifically was to uphold the constitution. As we as citizens are protected by it, we as law enforcement must also conduct ourselves under it's authority. I doubt most citizens could list each amendment in the Bill of Rights and that is their right to be ignorant of what protects them. The right to be ignorant is not extended to the police. I would propose that all law enforcement officers be required to have these committed to memory. Our Constitution and the Bill of Rights is what makes this country worth our time and our lives.
I will be addressing these amendments in more detail in the coming weeks. What did they mean to our founders and what do they mean today.

Amendment I

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.

Amendment II

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.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

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.

Amendment V

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 offense 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.

Amendment VI

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 defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.