Many Americans believe that the right to bear arms, as stated in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is an unassailable, immutable, irrevocable human right conferred upon each citizen of the United States of America. Some who align themselves with the far-right of the political spectrum get very upset at any notion of regulating that right, despite the inclusion of the words “well-regulated” in the amendment’s text.
I often wonder why those “strict constitutionalists” aren’t nearly as adamant about defending the sanctity of 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.”
The First Amendment is a complex provision. It guarantees every citizen what I consider to be the most sacred of civil liberties—all of which are under attack by the far-right and the current president’s administration.
While fear mongers warned that Obama would take away everyone’s guns, the fact is that after eight years of his administration, gun ownership is at an all-time high. Under Donald Trump’s “leadership,” however, there is real cause for concern.
For starters, the current administration has labeled the press “the opposition party,” while Trump himself has stated, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” The president has even said of the press, “The fake news doesn’t tell the truth. It doesn’t represent the people. It will never represent the people and we’re going to do something about it.”
That, my fellow Americans, is a direct threat to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press (and freedom of speech), and that should scare you senseless because when a government controls what the media reports, democracy dies.
But the far-right’s assault on freedom doesn’t end there. Trump has used Twitter to publicly criticize citizen-participants in the recent tax-day protests and in January’s Women’s Marches for exercising their First Amendment right to assemble. A true leader would not attempt to rally people against their fellow countrymen for legally voicing their grievances against their government.
Lest you think these threats to our rights are limited to a Mar-a-Lago tyrant, our own newly-elected governor has shown that he, too, does not truly respect the Constitution. In an affront to the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has directed state agencies to consider for approval grant applications from religious organizations and churches. Yes, friends, your tax dollars could be given to a tax-exempt church— Muslim, Jewish, or perhaps even a Satanic church.
But of course the church Governor Greitens specifically is concerned about is a Christian church. The Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia applied for a grant to improve its playground, and after being denied by the DNR and two courts, the church has taken its case to the United States Supreme Court—which has just seated a Trump-appointed conservative, Justice Neal Gorsuch.
The church and the governor apparently have little regard for the Missouri Constitution either, specifically the Blaine Amendment that states, that “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.”
The far-right claims to be the defenders of the Constitution, but I just don’t see it. If they really want to defend the Bill of Rights, they will disavow all talk of limiting the freedom of the press. They will condemn the administration for vilifying citizens who gather to protest the president and his policies. Those who revere the Constitution should petition the governor to respect the separation of church and state by reversing his decision to give public funds to religious organizations—including churches and religious schools.
My fellow Americans, the Second Amendment is not being threatened. The NRA and red-blooded American gun owners will never let the government or anyone else take away our arms. But make no mistake: the First Amendment is very much under attack. Exercise your right to speak out against this tyranny now, before it is too late.