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The Second Amendment

“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.”

 

 

In light of the recent shooting in Charleston, we can expect gun rights advocates to emerge once again with loud voices proclaiming the right of Dylann Roof to have a gun and that the nine victims would be alive today if only they themselves had a gun to shoot Roof. It’s all about arming the people. It’s all about protecting yourself, individually. It’s the American way.

But if we examine the exact text of the Second Amendment, this whole “Guns for everyone!” battle cry seems a bit childish and silly. How is a 21-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist wielding a gun in an African-American church fitting into the “well regulated militia”? It seems that gun advocates like to quote “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” but strategically avoid the “well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.” Where is the good regulation in racists bringing guns into black community’s safe spaces? How is a murderously racist white man with a gun “necessary to the security of a free state”? And how do these repeated mass shootings and massacres (mostly targeting minorities) make our state any more free?

The gun free-for-all that so many advocate for, in which the “good guy” with a gun gets the “bad guy” with a gun, is a completely unregulated mess. Rarely does the “good guy” even have time to get his gun out to stop the bad guy, and rarely is he a good enough shot to do anything more than further harm in a real-life terrorist attack situation. Is more shooting really the answer? How can you blame these victims for not carrying guns, in their church, and shooting Roof? How were they supposed to know Roof planned to kill?

Walking in public, knowing that it’s very possible that the person you pass on the street is packing heat, you never know who’s set to kill and who’s simply making some irresponsible statement about their Second Amendment right to make everyone uncomfortable in public, displaying (or purposefully not displaying) their deadly weapon. It makes no sense that this free-for-all is at all necessary for the security of a free state; the regulation of our good American “militia” is ineffective if mass shootings are occurring with such terrifying frequency. It’s time that this country took responsibility for its freedom and actually followed what the Constitution says.

 
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The First 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.”

 

 

It’s common for Americans to believe that the first amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion mean “I can do what I want and no one can tell me otherwise.” When Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson made his infamous anti-homosexual remarks and consequently got suspended from the show, the far-right lamented “liberal” media’s destruction of free speech, many claiming it violated Robertson’s right to free speech and free exercise of religion. It seems to escape these people that the amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law,” not “nobody shall ever interfere with” people’s first amendment rights. In other words, it would be a violation of Phil Robertson’s rights if the government stepped in and pulled him off the air for his religiously inspired rant against homosexuality—but not if non-government-owned television stations pulled him off the air.

Oddly enough, these same folks who condemn businesses (and anyone else, really) for addressing hate speech and discriminating against those who make remarks that are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., are the ones who want to give businesses whose owners hold certain religious beliefs the right to deny services to people who do not fit the right “criteria” (i.e. gay couples who want to buy their wedding cake from a bakery with religious owners or gay couples who want to adopt children). They say they want to allow businesses to discriminate freely without Big Brother getting in the way; I think what they really want is to give businesses the right to do only what fits within their specific ideology.

Calling people out on their hate speech and choosing not to listen or choosing not to broadcast them is not violating first amendment rights; it’s exercising them. I use my right to free speech to tell you to stop talking, and I use my freedom of religion to say no to your religion. It’s that simple.

Furthermore, when the people protest against displays of racism, anti-LGBTQIA propaganda, sexism, religious symbols and practices, etc. in public places (such as Nativity scenes on government-owned property), it is not the destruction of free speech or free exercise of religion; it is the people’s right to petition the government to control what is allowed in public spaces and protesting any government endorsement of a particular set of religious beliefs. People have the right to respond to exercises of free speech and religious practice that they find to be offensive or contrary to the government’s religious neutrality, as mandated by the First Amendment.

It is an immature tendency of the American public to believe that freedom of speech and religion means that they can say and do whatever they want and use the Constitution as a shield from any consequences; but, though the government cannot itself interfere (unless it presents clear harm to the public), people can either themselves put an end to certain First Amendment abuses, or assemble and petition to have certain destructive ideas that threaten the security of the state to be censored by the government. That is the American way, according to the U.S. Constitution. Give it a read.

 
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Juneteenth: Celebrating Emancipation

Repost–Never. Forget. Juneteenth is The Oldest U.S. Celebration of the 1863 Emancipation of the Slaves

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In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln presented The Emancipation Proclamation to Congress; the effective date was set for January 1, 1863. However notification of freedom did not reach the slaves in Texas until two and one-half years after the end of the Civil War, on or about June 19, 1865.

Because the exact date in mid-June when the Union Soldiers brought the news is not known, it could have been June Fifteenth, Sixteenth, or Seventeenth–it was “one of those “teenths” in June 1865. Therefore, the holiday was named “Juneteeenth“.

Juneteenth - General Orders Number 3

Juneteenth – General Orders Number 3 (Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

Check out the website Juneteenth.com to find a Juneteenth Celebration near you and to learn more about this very important and historical African-American holiday.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

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According to Tom Feelings, the author of The Middle Passage:

Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities and nationalities – as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend.

Juneteenth is a day on which honor and respect is paid for the sufferings of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize because of it, there will forever be a bond between us.

On Juneteenth we think about that moment in time when the enslaved in Galveston, Texas received word of their freedom. We imagine the depth of their emotions, their jubilant dance and their fear of the unknown.

Juneteenth is a day that we commit to each other the needed support as family, friends and co-workers. It is a day we build coalitions that enhance African American economics.

On Juneteenth we come together young and old to listen, to learn and to refresh the drive to achieve. It is a day where we all take one step closer together – to better utilize the energy wasted on racism. Juneteenth is a day that we pray for peace and liberty for all.

 
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