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You might want to skip this lawyerly rant

Everyone on the internet loves Freedom of Speech – as well they should. I’m madly in love with it too.

But it’s not the only cool freedom. And it might not even be the most important one.

Mini refresher: Freedom of speech is in the first amendment, which means it wasn’t in the original constitution, correct? We’ve all heard the story – they never would have gotten the @#$% thing into law if they had tried to get too much crazy stuff in it. So they all made an agreement – let’s vote for the @#$% thing first, and then we’ll amend it to add all the controversial stuff. Like the bill of rights, aka the first ten amendments.

So here’s my question: do you really love Freedom of Speech best? How about life, liberty and property – you gotta love those, especially since our right to PRIVACY is buried in there somewhere.

Freedom of religion? Or better still, freedom from the establishment of religion? If we learned nothing else back in the 20th C, didn’t we learn to value those two ideals?

The right to bear arms? Not at the top of my personal list, but if some crazy dictator invaded us, I’d wish I had a musket under the bed, so I try to be a sport about it.

Guilty until proven innocent? Again, you don’t really appreciate it until you need it.

The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures – a closet favorite. (get it? Closet? Oh, never mind, that’s warped lawyer humor)

The right to trial by jury – um, I guess that’s the one I could let go if I had to pick one. It’s fine in theory, but in practice? I’m not sure it’s a well-oiled machine. Some of these juries look pretty squirrelly. Of course, given some of the things I’ve heard about certain judges, it’s probably a wash.

Then there are the wallflowers – like privileges and immunities, and interstate travel. Don’t doze off. Those are the ones that prevent Oregonians from banning Californians from their State, even though they wanna. And those are also the ones that keep Texas from shooting me – or at least, fining me at a higher rate – when I speed on their highways. Like they wanna. (Don’t deny it, I know it’s true!)

The right to remain silent – where would TV cop-drama be without it?

Equal protection, due process, protection from cruel and unusual punishment. Freedom of the press… I could go on and on.

Do you have a favorite?

So what got me started on this semi-rant? I guess it’s the fact that people shout them as slogans, rather than really thinking about them. What happens when your freedom of speech comes up against someone else’s liberty right? What if your right to bear arms threatens my life? What if the government insists that its incursion on my right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizure is necessary to protect my life and property? What if the press is saying terrible things that could destroy someone’s happiness? What if the press isn’t doing enough?

I’m a card-carrying Libra, so it’s all about balance to me. Any time someone talks about a “right” in a vacuum, I’m looking for the other right. The one it’s being pitted against. I love that sort of tension – not just because I’m a constitutional law nerd, but because it’s the whole basis for our society.

Sheesh… I’ll blog something better later. I promise.



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