Last night, devoted partner and I read the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Yeah we knew what it said, just not the specific words it used to say it. After all, American history class is, sadly, eons ago, and I am an American, I get to take this stuff for granted.
"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."
Read it again to let it sink in.
This is truly the greatest gift we have given to civilization.
I might go so far as to say this is the greatest gift anyone has ever given to civilization, and you know how much I love the ancients, Rome and Greece.
So we've found something I'm a fundamentalist about. These words. All of them. Interpreted as broadly as possible. Forever.
People who attempt to abridge these words, narrowly interpret them, claim the authors of this document didn't really mean what they wrote? Those people are my enemies. And frankly, they are yours as well.
Messrs. Stewart and Colbert have done a much better job than I could hope to these past few weeks detailing exactly how preposterous my enemies are, but it doesn't blunt them.
We all poked fun at former president Bush the 2nd with his admittedly laughable you're either with us or with the terrorists because that's a binary equation that is logically unsound. But this one isn't: you either believe in every word of our first amendment or you believe in none of them. It's like being a little bit pregnant, it is simply impossible. Change, abridge, hem-and-haw, ignore, pass over, denigrate, disregard just one part of that comprehensive sentence and you negate the whole. The same sentence that allows you to loudly disagree with something someone else is loudly saying allows that person to say it in the first place. Opinions and feelings don't enter into it.
We, all of us, have these rights - even Scientologists and vegetarians - and if you're not willing to uphold these rights for everyone, to my mind, you're not really an American.
We as a country have made our fair share of mistakes, lo these 250ish years, but this one we got 100% absolutely right. Anyone who doubts that has completely missed the point. And while I will uphold his right to doubt, it's a pretty heavy irony; an irony that eludes so many (I have the right to say that this person doesn't have the right to say...wtf?!?).
Defending these words is the most important duty an American has and many Americans have died doing so. The trickle-down effects of its dilution are honestly too awful to imagine which is why I'll be sharpening my pitchfork for when the angry hordes collide.
I hope you'll be there too.
2 weeks ago