H. Why We Need Bills of Rights for the 21st Century
A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future > Appendix > H. Why We Need Bills of Rights for the 21st Century
The following two satirical views of what has become of the original Bill of Rights make the point that we need to restore the traditions of 1788. One way to do this is to make use of the concept of a “Bill of Rights” in creative new ways. However, let us not forget the grievances of modern-day citizens at how the values of 1788-89 have been eroded and must be restored.
The New Bill of Rights
Nearly everything has changed in the United States since the Bill of Rights was written and adopted. We still see the original words when we read those first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, yet the meaning is vastly different now.
And no wonder. We’ve gone from a country of a few million to a few hundred million. The nation’s desire to band together was replaced by revulsion of togetherness. We exchanged a birthright of justice for a magic bullet, and replaced the Pioneer Spirit with the Pioneer Stereo.
We’re not the people who founded this country and our Bill of Rights should reflect this.
[ For the ] the 21st Century, it’s time to bring the wording up to date showing what we are and who we are.
Congress shall make no law establishing religion, but shall act as if it did; and shall make no laws abridging the freedom of speech, unless such speech can be construed as “commercial speech” or “irresponsible speech” or “offensive speech;” or shall abridge the right of the people to peaceably assemble where and when permitted; or shall abridge the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, under proper procedures.
It shall be unlawful to cry “Fire!” in a theater occupied by three or more persons, unless such persons shall belong to a class declared Protected by one or more divisions of Federal, State or Local government, in which case the number of persons shall be one or more.
A well-regulated military force shall be maintained under control of the President, and no political entity within the United States shall maintain a military force beyond Presidential control. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall be determined by the Congress and the States and the Cities and the Counties and the Towns (and someone named Fred.)
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, unless such house is believed to have been used, or believed may be used, for some purpose contrary to law or public policy.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures may not be suspended except to protect public welfare. Any place or conveyance shall be subject to search by law enforcement forces of any political entity, and any such places or conveyances, or any property within them, may be confiscated without judicial proceeding if believed to be used in a manner contrary to law.
Any person may be held to answer for a crime of any kind upon any suspicion whatever; and may be put in jeopardy of life or liberty by the state courts, by the federal judiciary, and while incarcerated; and may be compelled to be a witness against himself by the forced submission of his body or any portion thereof, and by testimony in proceedings excluding actual trial. Private property forfeited under judicial process shall become the exclusive property of the judicial authority and shall be immune from seizure by injured parties.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to avoid prosecution by exhausting the legal process and its practitioners. Failure to succeed shall result in speedy plea-bargaining resulting in lesser charges. Convicted persons shall be entitled to appeal until sentence is completed. It shall be unlawful to bar or deter an incompetent person from service on a jury.
In civil suits, where a contesting party is a person whose private life may interest the public, the right of trial in the Press shall not be abridged.
Sufficient bail may be required to ensure that dangerous persons remain in custody pending trial. There shall be no right of the public to be afforded protection from dangerous persons, and such protection shall be dependent upon incarceration facilities available.
The enumeration in The Constitution of certain rights shall be construed to deny or discourage others which may from time to time be extended by the branches of Federal, State or Local government, unless such rights shall themselves become enacted by Amendment.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution shall be deemed to be powers residing in persons holding appointment therein through the Civil Service, and may be delegated to the States and local Governments as determined by the public interest. The public interest shall be determined by the Civil Service.
Bill of No Rights
The following was written by Lewis Napper.
We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt-ridden, delusional and other cry-baby, bleeding hearts.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that a whole lot of people were confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights.
You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone – not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the World is full of idiots, and probably always will be.
You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful. Do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.
You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we’re just not interested in health care.
You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim or kill someone, don’t be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don’t be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won’t have the right to a big-screen color TV or life of leisure.
You don’t have the right to demand that our children risk their lives in foreign wars to soothe your aching conscience. We hate oppressive governments and won’t lift a finger to stop you from going to fight if you’d like. However, we do not enjoy parenting the entire world and do not want to spend so much of our time battling each and every little tyrant with a military uniform and a funny hat.
You don’t have the right to a job. All of us sure want all of you to have one, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.
You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness – which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights…
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