, ,

Image courtesy of Washington's Blog

Image courtesy of Washington’s Blog



Washington’s Blog

This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right. (This is an updated version of an essay we wrote in February. Since then, it has become apparent that the few rights we thought we had left are largely illusory.)

First Amendment

The 1st Amendment protects speech, religion, assembly and the press:

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.

The Supreme Court has also interpreted the First Amendment as protecting freedom of association. However, the government is arresting those speaking out … and violently crushing peaceful assemblies which attempt to petition the government for redress. A federal judge found that the law allowing indefinite detention of Americans without due process has a “chilling effect” on free speech. And see this and this. There are also enacted laws allowing the secret service to arrest anyone protesting near the president or other designated folks (that might explain incidents like this). Mass spying by the NSA violates our freedom of association, chilling our willingness to associate with people who are not firmly in the mainstream. The threat of being labeled a terrorist for exercising our First Amendment rights certainly violates the First Amendment. The government is using laws to crush dissent, and it’s gotten so bad that even U.S. Supreme Court justices are saying that we are descending into tyranny. For example, the following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a “suspected terrorist” today:

Having an almanac

Complaining about the taste of your tap water

Being young (if you live near a battle zone, you are fair game; and see this)

Using social media

Reporting or doing journalism (and here and here)

Having “strange odors” or “bright colored stains on clothes” (what if you eat mustard or ketchup?)

Speaking out against government policies

Protesting anything (such as participating in the “Occupy” or “Tea Party” movements)

Questioning war (even though war reduces our national security; and see this)

Criticizing the government’s targeting of innocent civilians with drones (although killing innocent civilians with drones is one of the main things which increases terrorism. And see this)

Asking questions about pollution (even at a public Congressional hearing?)

Paying cash at an Internet cafe

Asking questions about Wall Street shenanigans

Holding gold

Creating alternative currencies

Stocking up on more than 7 days of food (even though all Mormons are taught to stockpile food, and most Hawaiians store up on extra food)

Having bumper stickers saying things like “Know Your Rights Or Lose Them”

Investigating factory farming

Infringing a copyright

Taking pictures or videos

Talking to police officers

Wearing a hoodie

Driving a van

Writing on a piece of paper

(Not having a Facebook account may soon be added)

And holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:

Being frustrated with “mainstream ideologies”

Valuing online privacy (and see this)

Being a libertarian

Liking the Founding Fathers

Being a Christian

Being anti-tax, anti-regulation or for the gold standard

Being “reverent of individual liberty”

Being “anti-nuclear”

“Believe in conspiracy theories”

“A belief that one’s personal and/or national “way of life” is under attack”

“Impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)”

“Insert religion into the political sphere”

“Those who seek to politicize religion”

“Supported political movements for autonomy”

Being “anti-abortion”

Being “anti-Catholic”

Being “anti-global”

“Suspicious of centralized federal authority”

“Fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”

“A belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in … survivalism”

Opposing genetically engineered food

Opposing surveillance

Of course, Muslims are more or less subject to a separate system of justice in America. And 1st Amendment rights are especially chilled when power has become so concentrated that the same agency which spies on all Americans also decideswho should be assassinated.

Second Amendment

The 2nd Amendment states….

Read full article

Reprinted with permission from Washington’s Blog.