James Madison (1751-1836)
One of the issues frustrating me right now is how so many people wrapped themselves in the flag, but don’t defend our constitution. It’s as though the tribalism has gotten so strong that it supersedes the values of the tribes themselves. In the tradition of Van Jones, I will agree that this is done by members of all political parties, but I think people like Jones are guilty of misleading the public into thinking that the blame should be spread evenly. There are certainly liberals who protest certain speakers appearances, but that is not a government restriction of ones freedom of speech anymore than is conservatives destroying their Keurig machines because Keurig doesn’t support pedophilia. Van Jones and pundits like him are part of the problem, spreading the blame and not accurately reflecting what is going on in America. This emboldens certain extremes, primarily far right wing extremes, who are being fed a message that everyone engages in the same activities, and everyone shares the blame. And suddenly a group that had no reason to feel oppressed feels like they might be; they heard on the news that all sides are equally egregious. The recent phenomenon of turning away patrons who are LGBT is a good example. Those who turn these folks away, my folks, believe that there are groups who want to oppress them for having the beliefs they have. There are so many things wrong with that argument. First, one has to believe that LGBT people are not even redeemable. That argument seems to invalidate the teaching of Christ (in a universe where sexuality is of any concern to God), so turning them away seems to violate the very religion claimed by the owners of these places. Second, one has to believe that there exist large segments of the population which call for suppression of Christianity. There are certainly a few, but that is not a large group, and ones freedom to practice a religion is not under attack, especially not the practice of Christianity. What is under attack is the allowance that has been historically given to “Christians” to oppress others. Prayer is still allowed in school, as a private practice. But forcing it on others would be the same as the government forcing kids to pray to Hindu gods or kneel and pray to Allah at set times daily. We allow freedom of religion, and that has to be carried through to our schools. Similarly, issues where science is ignored by those who believe their god does not agree with it cannot be eliminated because of a lack of understanding. Homosexuality, transgenderism, climate change, and medicine (including abortion) do not depend on one’s beliefs. One cannot cite the constitution as a reason for the free exercise of their religion, and at the same time cite the constitution as a reason others should not be free to exercise theirs. I hope some of that made sense. Maybe, maybe not.
What did any of that have to do with James Madison? Madison was the author of The Bill of Rights, specifically adding the freedom of the press and the right to trial by jury. He had to be nudged a bit, but he understood the importance of a free press. But that press should be fair. Claiming all things are even isn’t fairness, it’s pandering. It’s a subtle difference, but we’d do well to remember it.
Read the Wikipedia Article on The Bill of Rights, which breaks each one down.