Yeah, baby. It's Contest Time.

Yeah, baby. It's Contest Time. November 23, 2010

I told you there would be a test, right?

Well, I meant to.

All this time you’ve been lurking there in the shadows. Well now it’s time for you to man up. Or woman up. Or at least put your identity crisis on a hold for a minute. I have an important question to ask you. There’s no right or wrong answer, demerits will not be given. I’m simply interested in your honest thoughts on this matter.

We talk a lot about rights in this country. In particular we’ve spoken a lot this week about the right not to be groped by a TSA employee. Well, I haven’t spoken about it, but you know what I mean — every other blogger out there is talking about the privacy/groping issue. For the record I was at Reagan a couple of weeks ago and had to go through that full-body scanner. I know it was a cheap thrill for those TSA folks because they tipped me $10. I don’t mind. I’m unemployed. The $10 came in handy.

Frankly, I think Americans whine too much. I wish sometimes they would just zip it. Put a lid on it. Duck tape a news anchor or two. I am sick of hearing about people being groped when kids in Haiti are dying from lack of clean water. Didn’t we appoint a commission to help clean up Haiti? Didn’t we give them a buttload of money? How come we aren’t demanding that Haitians get better treatment?

I’ll tell you why.

We are whacked.

We get all huffy and puffy when a bag of urine gets spilled on a businessman, and yes, I agree, that’s humiliating. But hellooo… how many retirement facilities in your neighborhood? How many homeless shelters? Care to guess how many of those people wear urine all day long? Yet, I don’t see the news folks storming the gates of the nursing homes or homeless shelters. Oh. That’s right. Not nearly so glamorous. All those lonely old people.

All this got me to thinking about the Bill of Rights.

That will please my husband. He thinks it’s sexy when I talk about the Bill of Rights.  My husband would only call a porn line if the woman on the other end was reading the Constitution. You should have seen the back flip he did when I wrote yesterday’s blog about Plato and the Sophists. He literally jumped up and down in the middle of the bed, whooping and hollering. He’s cute like that.

So here’s the test — if you had to give up one of the Bill of Rights, which one would it be and why that one? Everyone who particpates in this test will be entered into a drawing and a random winner will receive a copy of Billy Coffey’s Snow Day, and a copy of my book Where’s Your Jesus Now?

And just in case you forgot the Bill of Rights, totally understandable, here’s the laymen’s version. Pick the one you can do without and tell us why:

  • Congress can’t make any law about your religion, or stop you from practicing your religion, or keep you from saying whatever you want, or publishing whatever you want (like in a newspaper or a book). And Congress can’t stop you from meeting peacefully for a demonstration to ask the government to change something.
  • Congress can’t stop people from having and carrying weapons, because we need to be able to defend ourselves.
  • You don’t have to let soldiers live in your house, except if there is a war, and even then only if Congress has passed a law about it.
  • Nobody can search your body, or your house, or your papers and things, unless they can prove to a judge that they have a good reason to think you have committed a crime.
  • You can’t be tried for any serious crime without a Grand Jury meeting first to decide whether there’s enough evidence for a trial. And if the jury decides you are innocent, the government can’t try again with another jury. You don’t have to say anything at your trial. You can’t be killed, or put in jail, or fined, unless you were convicted of a crime by a jury. And the government can’t take your house or your farm or anything that is yours, unless the government pays for it.
  • If you’re arrested, you have a right to have your trial pretty soon, and the government can’t keep you in jail without trying you. The trial has to be public, so everyone knows what is happening. The case has to be decided by a jury of ordinary people from your area. You have the right to know what you are accused of, to see and hear the people who are witnesses against you, to have the government help you get witnesses on your side, and you have the right to a lawyer to help you.
  • You also have the right to a jury when it is a civil case (a law case between two people rather than between you and the government).
  • The government can’t make you pay more than is reasonable in bail or in fines, and the government can’t order you to have cruel or unusual punishments (like torture) even if you are convicted of a crime.
  • Just because these rights are listed in the Constitution doesn’t mean that you don’t have other rights too.
  • Anything that the Constitution doesn’t say that Congress can do should be left up to the states, or to the people

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    • I wouldn’t want to lose any of them, but if push came to shove … the second amendment affects me the least since I don’t own any guns. The first amendment is way too important to me to even consider giving up. Five through eight and ten are essential to keep the government from over-reaching and to protect citizens. It strikes me that three and nine have implications I can’t even begin to understand in a modern world.

    • If I had to give up something from the Bill of Rights, I suppose it would be #10 since we don’t use it anymore. Don’t worry, I won’t get on my soapbox and rant about how, since the time of Lincoln, the rights of the states have been steadily eroded. Yes, I’m a southern boy and probably way too prickly on that subject.
      Tammie, the 2nd Amendment is just as essential as 5-8 are to keeping the government from over-reaching. And, as my brother says, an armed society is a polite society.

    • All of those rights seem necessary, but I also would give up the second one if I had a choice since it’s the least terrifying for me to think about. Of course, I don’t own weapons either,so maybe I’m just being selfish. Of course, we got close to losing the fourth one a while back with wire-tapping and all, and I doubt that affected me much directly (though while living in South Korea I joked otherwise), but I’d rather not see that one go. I guess it would be easier to live without a gun than without other freedoms.

    • The 7th. There all really important but if I had to the 7th would be the least important.

    • Paul D

      None. Oh wait, that’s not a choice. OK, I guess I’d have to say #10 since we gave that one up long ago.

      • John in PDX

        Paul, I am with you on this one! Why don’t states exert rights anymore? Maybe I will move to TX. They still have the right to succeed.

        • John, the states do assert their rights as some are attempting to do in finding different ways to apply new health care laws. Two things alter the situation greatly today. First, states are all lined up at the trough for federal dollars, gobs of them being DOD dollars. Second, so many things that states administer are no longer local or geographical in scope; but we still have the mentality of being isolated frontier towns months apart by covered wagon or ship via Cape Horn.

          • John in PDX

            I live in Oregon. We have had health care coverage for years.
            Never been to Cape Horn yet. I got to Buenos Aires but that is a long way from Ushuaia. Hope to be there soon – have to get to Antartica to hit all continents. I have been to the Cape of Good Hope.
            I don’t know where you live but I have enjoyed your comments. Hermiston is sort of a wagon trail town.
            Have a great Thanksgiving.

            • John, I enjoy your thoughts also. Never been to the Capes but have lived in the land of Apostle Paul. Born in E. Nebraksa, “native” of E. Multnomah County for past 32 yrs. Give thanks in peace!

        • Every state has the right to succeed. You probably meant secede, and that’s a myth that has not gone away. I am a Texan and also hold a history degree. Trust me. Texas did not cut a deal where they could secede if they want. They did cut some deals, but that isn’t one.

          • John in PDX

            Sorry James – I am not sure what I meant after you put me in my place. I am just an old illiturate. And this time I knew I put the e in the wrong spot.
            I am off the web so I don’t embarrass myself more.
            Going to read ‘Halsey’s Typhoon’ this weekend.
            Have a good Thanksgiving.

            • Karen Spears Zacharias

              John: You crack me up. James don’t pick on my Oregon pals. I have so few of them.

    • Peg Willis

      I’d have to say #2 is the one I could most easily do without. I’m too weak and puny to actually USE a weapon even if I owned one. Oh wait … my mouth. Is that a weapon?

    • Bill

      The fourth amendment. Maybe they’ll take some of that junk with them.

    • I’d give up the second. All the rifles, shotguns, handguns–and even assault rifles–in the world can’t keep us “free” if we refuse to be. In the just held elections, more eligible voters chose not to vote than did. They weren’t kept from the polls (which here in our state are in our own homes since all ballots are mail-in) by secret police or dictatorial armies. Ain’t no firearm that can fix a don’t care citizenry.

      • John in PDX

        I like my guns. I don’t shoot people. I like to hunt when I get a chance. I rarely even get a shot off.
        I was off fishing the Deschutes with a friend.

        Him: I still don’t understand why you went on a safari and killed animals.

        Me: We are about to go out and kill some fish. What is the difference?

        Him: The fish have a choice – they don’t have to bite the hook.

        Me: Oh.


        • John: I kill animals all the time…so to speak. I buy their body parts at the meat counter of the supermarket. Meaning I sub out their demise. But we aren’t really talking about hunting or food supply here.

          I like Wendell Berry’s thought. In one of his books an essay proposes “Agricultural Solutions to Agricultural Problems.” (as opposed to chemical and genetic tinkering solutions) Guns don’t kill people. People kill people–with guns. So the task should actually be to make safer, non-lethal people–a human solution to a human problem.

          In the gun debate, both sides get it wrong. Some folks want guns everywhere as a response to unsafe people. Others look at the amount of gun violence and propose to address it by eliminating SOME guns, knowing they’ll never get all. Both are seeking a firearm solution to a human problem. I think Jesus would not see it as either a security problem or a rights issue but a spiritual problem that has a spiritual solution–which would compel us to address the human problems we’d rather not see.

          P.S. Watch out for flying fishhooks. Or don’t fish with Dick Cheney!

    • I would give up the right not to have soldiers live in my house. First of all I doubt it will ever be needed. But if it was needed I would not have a problem showing some hospitality to our service men/women. And last and most selfishly if their are problem I’d rather have the most folks who know how to shoot and hit a bad guy around me I can get.

    • Mary Cooke

      Definitely the second.

    • I’d sacrifice number 8, because I don’t do anything worth arresting me for, and I certainly do not commit any heinous crimes that would call for torture.

      I would like to keep my right to protect myself, as I can more quickly shoot an intruder at my home than the police could, so I’m against losing the 2nd amendment.

    • Kenton

      The 10th amendment. Not because I think we can live without it, but because I think we’ve given it up already.

    • Wanda

      None! I would give up none! Oh man, now I can’t play with you guys. The price of treasuring our liberties I guess.

    • i would also say the second, for a similar reason as why people are saying the tenth. the purpose of the right to bear arms was to defend ourselves from the government, but our military is way too powerful to honestly defend yourself with a pistol and a rifle if they decided they wanted you dead.

    • Well, since I already have a copy of Snow Day, I cannot be disqualified. I wouldn’t give up any of them. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised so many would choose to give up state’s rights, especially now. If I did choose to give up one of them, it wouldn’t be that one.

      • Karen Spears Zacharias

        So which one would it be? C’mon. You are hardly the shy one.

    • Mandy

      @Jeff, those laws protect you if you are falsely accused as well.

    • Diane

      I’ll go with the right to “bare arms!” Will that work??

    • I’d give up the third (not allowing soldiers to occupy my house) since the probability of that is slim to none. Coming from a family with a long history of military men and women, I would welcome them into my house anyway.

    • Renee

      I’d give up number three also. I might need some soldiers in the house to protect me when the zombies come. 😉

    • Viviane

      OK, that was WAY easier than I thought it would be. let the servicefolks move on in! and welcome!

      thanks for the primer version of our rights, btw. (and I just noticed the date on here … am I ridiculously late in seeing this? if so, feel free to ignore everything but the thanks.)