The NRA and Patriotism

As Americans are again witness to the spectacle of the NRA moving back the line on what it will and won’t accept from Congress, while it simultaneously proposes solutions to all society’s ills that begin and end with “more guns”, is it time for us to question the loud claim of its members that it is a patriotic, freedom-loving organization?

The Constitution defines many separate rights and liberties for citizens. Over the two centuries plus of that document’s existence, we the people have tried to work out the nuts and bolts of these rights in practice, especially in determining the limitations of each when the exercise of one right conflicts with another.

We can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater, libel or slander others, or shout down another under the guise of free speech. Freedom of religion does not extend to violations of civil law. The right to peaceably assemble can be subject to reasonable local fees and procedures meant to ensure public health and safety.

The NRA has taken its interpretation of one part, of one amendment, and treated that interpretation as unique, sacrosanct and untouchable among all the rights and provisions of the Constitution. If there is conflict, let’s say between First Amendment freedom of speech and the NRA’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, they will not hesitate to stomp down the former. This they have done to government workers at the ATF and the Centers for Disease Control, and to numerous citizens who have been viciously threatened for speaking out.

Imagine taking this same unlimited and unregulated attitude toward other provisions of the Constitution under the guise of “liberty” or “God-given right”. What would that look like in practice? Would our society be more free if citizens could shout down others who were trying to speak, leaving the public forum to those who could physically or financially shout the loudest? Imagine a society where individuals could sacrifice pets or children under the guise of freedom of religion. Absurd perhaps, but not out of keeping with the attitude that many gun-rights proponents hold toward the 2nd Amendment. Have reasonable limitations on the Constitution’s other rights and liberties been a “slippery slope” leading to the complete elimination of such rights, as the NRA and its members suggest would happen to the 2nd Amendment with reasonable regulations? Hardly.

Rather than weakening the Constitution, such limitations help strengthen it by both providing clear guidelines for exercising rights, and by creating an overall spirit and ideal for American society. All the individual Constitutional rights, it seems, have reasonable limitations to ensure the effectiveness of the whole. All, that is, except one.

The NRA insists on an infinite interpretation of the language of their one Amendment, refusing to even discuss such reasonable questions as: What do and do not constitute “arms” under the amendment? What is meant by “well regulated” and doesn’t this phrase itself legitimize some regulation and limitation?

Patriots? Or perhaps the opposite. By putting part of the 2nd Amendment above the rest of the Constitution, the NRA has revealed itself to be no patriotic friend of American Constitutional democracy, but rather the shrill proponent and enforcer of a singular edict, its own Bill of Right. Without respect for the dynamic interplay of all society’s rights and liberties, the NRA marginalizes the majority of our basic legal principles, and undermines the philosophy and sense of ideals envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

Ten New Amendments to the Constitution #2

#2 in our suggestions for new amendments to the Constitution:

Only individual biological humans, as described under the laws pertaining to citizenship or legal residency within this Constitution or its Amendments, and no other entities, specifically such entities as are created for the purpose of conducting commerce, shall participate in, conduct, financially support, or in any other way effectively influence, or attempt to influence, the functions of, or election of candidates or adoption of provisions or revisions to, the federal government or any and all its related agencies or processes. 

A New Bill of Rights for the Constitution

Why not? It’s been awhile since we’ve made some adjustments to the US Constitution. We’ve seen where things are going with predatory capitalism and the corrupting influence of money on our politicians and institutions. Let’s at least discuss some changes that might make our society a bit more democratic, as was intended. So I’m going to put forward my ten amendments, a new Bill of Rights for our times, one at a time over the coming weeks. They are probably not worded in a constitutionally tight way, but what the heck. Let me know what you think.

#1: No exercise of money or wealth, or qualities related to these, shall be construed to be equivalent or positively related to speech, free speech, or the exercise thereof. Political speech shall not be garnered or rationed on the basis of money or wealth or qualities related to money or wealth.


Intermission – Hiking to stay fit

Thought I’d take a break from politics to go on a hiking excursion.

I’ve been giving some thought as to why some kinds of walking and hiking may be more beneficial from a fitness standpoint than others. Why do I feel so much less invigorated from a flat hike/walk on paved trails than I do on hilly trails or more natural surfaces?

I’ve concluded that hiking on rough, uneven, or hilly trails encourages the body to make multiple, instantaneous adjustments. Some of these are muscular, but some are mental adjustments, both reflexive and deliberate. All these actions amount to a substantial, complex workout of body and mind. The trail or path doesn’t have to be hilly; it just should be diverse in its topography, perhaps with some rocks, dips, maybe some ice to negotiate, etc. If your trail or path is too uniform, than get off it and explore. (There may be a metaphor here, but I’ll leave it for a later time.

Compare this to flat, paved surfaces. The workout is much like a treadmill, with repetitive, limited action and needed mental processing. Diversity seems again to be a good thing.

So get your boots on the trail whenever you can, whatever the season. Maybe I’ll see you there.