A Moment of Reflection for Bill of Rights Day: We're Screwed


Tim Lynch at Cato pisses in our cornflakes on the morning of Bill of Rights day with his sad but true reflection on the state of our constitutional rights. Some excerpts:

The First Amendment says that Congress "shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech." Government officials, however, insist that they can make it a crime to mention the name of a political candidate in an ad in the weeks preceding an election. They also insist upon gag orders in thousands of federal investigations.

The Second Amendment says the people have the right "to keep and bear arms." Government officials, however, insist that they can make it a crime to keep and bear arms….

The Fourth Amendment says the people have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Government officials, however, insist that they can storm into homes in the middle of the night after giving residents a few seconds to answer their "knock" on the door.

The Fifth Amendment says that private property shall not be taken "for a public use without just compensation." Government officials, however, insist that they can take away our property and give it to others who covet it….

The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. Government officials, however, insist that jailing people who try in ingest a life-saving drug is not cruel.

The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights should not be construed to deny or disparage others "retained by the people." Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what rights, if any, will be retained by the people.

The Tenth Amendment says that the powers not delegated to the federal government are to be reserved to the states, or to the people. Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what powers are reserved to the states, or to the people.

Happy Bill of Rights Day, everyone! Yet another ironic legacy of FDR, by the way.

NEXT: The Pseudoscience of Paul Samuelson

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  1. Well, we don't have to house soldiers yet, do we? Lighten up!

    1. yeah, 3 out of 10 ain't bad. Oh, wait a minute, nevermind.

    2. Do they need soldiers in the house if they can monitor you electronically? It wasn't just about sleeping arrangements.

    3. "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.""

      All they need to do is pass a law.

    4. You've GOT to be kidding me...!

      ALL our RIGHTS are GOD-given--NOT government given. The government can NOT take them away. We cannot allow them to try.

      1. Just try and stop us, bitches.

      2. Try? They've already succeeded.

  2. Sounds like we might need to make a clean break and start over, eh?

    1. I try to shy away from this level of extreme but looking at this and some other cold, hard facts, seems to indicate that we're getting to the point of that being the only option for true Liberty. If we're not already there, that is.

      1. I try to shy away from this level of extreme

        Me too, but my readiness for it increases each day.

        1. Can't say I'm all that different.

          1. All my gear is packed up and ready to go, and my ar is sighted in at 100yds. Between my roommates and I, we have enough clip fed weapons to support a small militia. Gigity.

        2. My thoughts exactly.

    2. What makes you think we wouldn't screw up the next one too?

      The problem isn't our govenment, we have the best government in the world. The problem is with the citizens inability to elect people willing to obey the Constitution.

        1. Also people demanding that government do stuff that is none it shouldn't and stick it's nose into stuff that is none of it's business.

          You get the government you deserve in a democaracy.

          1. Tenthers!!!

      1. Thats why you reboot every 40 years or so. Of course we will screw it up.

        1. Is there anything rebooting can't fix?

  3. This stuff is not a problem as long as the right people are in charge.


    Just lie back and...

    you know...

    enjoy it.

    1. It wouldn't be a problem if we had the right people in charge, but we have little interest electing the right people.

      1. The whole point of limited government is that the wrong people are, inevitably, going to be in charge. There is no way of insuring that only wise Solons will be elected (or appointed, or inherit power, or what have you). Indeed, given the incentives, you must assume that the wrong sort of person will be in power most of the time; the kind of person you want in change will generally not seek power.

        The problem isn't that we have no interest in electing people who will uphold the Constitution; the problem is that most people don't want the Constitution upheld. The even bigger problem is that, most of the time, they have good reasons to not want the Constitution upheld. The problem is that most people make bad assumptions, and their actions flow (mostly) reasonably from these bad assumptions. And, of course, the assumptions are the sort that there is no earthly way of proving or disproving; you can only make inferences, and most people are atrocious at doing so.

        But even so, the absolute biggest problem is that people have forgotten what tyranny is like. I think that the reason the founders limited the power of government so much is that they had personal experience of tyranny, and they knew that the only way of minimizing tyranny is limiting government. Now, though, we are far removed from actual tyranny. Even with all the problems with the present US government (and they are legion), we are probably on average freer than almost anyone in the who lived before the eighteenth century. We are freer than almost anyone else in the world. We have a great deal of freedom, and we have a culture that values freedom. Because tyranny is only a distant memory, it looks more and more like something that is unlikely to happen; we forget how fragile liberty is, and how blessed we are to have what we do. Most people need direct experience of tyranny to realize how bad it truly is and act against it, and living in modern America isn't going to do it. I'm not sure that there even is an answer to this dilemma.

        That doesn't mean we should stop fighting. It just means we should realize that we're probably fighting a rearguard action, and not get too frustrated. Maybe a better time for liberty will come; maybe it won't. But if we don't fight for it, it definitely won't.

        1. Good Lord, I need a blog. Wordy much?

          1. Wordy, when written like that, is good. Strong work!

        2. I agree but I haven't forgetten what tyranny is...I have had my share of it in this country with a corrupt criminal "justice" system and bad police.

        3. That was pitch-perfect and quite quotable.

        4. Good post. Maybe I just have a hard time believing people don't want it, especially when I see people wearing flags and talking pro-America. But I would classify many of those people as pro-nationalism, not necessary pro-American.

          I guess I was being nice. I stand corrected.

          """But even so, the absolute biggest problem is that people have forgotten what tyranny is like."""

          So true, notice how many people claim tyranny with Obama's actions. His actions are not even close to real tyranny.

          1. "They are obviously the real intentions of the empire, this time under the friendly smile and African-American face of Barack Obama."

          2. "So true, notice how many people claim tyranny with Obama's actions. His actions are not even close to real tyranny."

            Hey, he's only been in office just shy of a full year. He's WORKIN' on it, oKAY?

            1. Took palpatine more than a decade didn't it? This shit doesn't happen overnight.

    2. Relax!

      Just lie back bend over and...

      you know...

      enjoy it.

      You're welcome.

      1. It's possible to get fucked in the arse either way.

        Or so Epi tells me. 😉

  4. Damn. Reading this was genuinely depressing.

  5. A Moment of Reflection for Bill of Rights Day: We're Screwed

    Pretty much sums it up for me

  6. If we're not already there, that is.

    Past it. It's asteroid-or-nothing time.

    1. How about a mayflower mission to Mars?

      1. And get shotdown right after lift-off.

  7. I read through this and looked back up to see if it was a Radley nutslam. As if I wasn't depressed enough today. Thanks Mr. Doherty. You're writing is now as disturbing as Mr. Balko's.

    1. We might be in a for two-fer today. Balko hasn't posted anything yet that makes me want to burn idiots alive. Then again, even back east, the day is young.

  8. On a lighter note. I admit that part of my vote for Obama was the knowledge that it would hasten our progress toward revolution.

    1. You... You voted for...?

      ...I can't believe my tiny eyes.

      1. Yes I did. I have since confessed and repented. but alas, the damage is done.

    2. Whatever makes you feel better about voting for him, man. 😉

  9. Depressing? It's liberating! Nothing matters any more!

    1. I envy your position Epi. As much as I realize we're fucked, I still seem to get my hopes up only to have them raped like they were in "I Spit On Your Grave 2".

      1. How can you envy that? The biggest problem is too many people are complacent or lazy and spoiled. We need to ALL fight back and speak up! WE are the ones who have the power. We can change it. But we must not be complacent or lazy!

        1. Janine, the problem is rounding up free thinking people who by nature are individuals, is like herding cats.

          We NEED a really big can of tuna, with someone pounding on the side of it.

          Eat up..Liberty Tuna...

  10. Does anyone still sell that great poster that SIL sold in the 1970s; it showed the Bill of Rights with a big red "Void Where Prohibited by Law" stamp on it.

    1. If they don't, some enterprising person should revive the idea.

      1. That could be photoshopped right quick.

    2. I had that on a t-shirt in the late 80s. I'd love to see that again.

      1. They could take a swipe at incorporation by swapping "Void Where Proibited by Law" with "Only valid in some states"

      2. You can get it here at zazzle.


        1. Hey, thanks for the link -- I just bought one!

    3. There's always this one to bring down your holiday season:


      1. On that one they come back. That's far to optimistic.

        1. "too optimistic"

  11. Hey, just to "bounce the rubble", note that for the first 2 months FY 2010 the deficit was $291 Billion dollar. In terms of work-time that's about $14 Million dollars per minute that the government is borrowing to screw you over. And you'll be expected to pay it back someday. Soon.

  12. """Tim Lynch at Cato pisses in our cornflakes...""

    Him too? It's getting hard to eat a bowl of ceral around here.

  13. Obama is going to fix this in his second term.

    1. He's going to quarter troops in our homes and take away our rights to criminal and civil jury trials?

      1. 2013: Obama announces he will drastically cut the military to reduce spending. All those laid off troops, unable to find work, will be forced to move back in with the parents.

        2014: Obama announces new federal guidelines on who can serve in the jury pool: Only angry minorities with a grudge against the Middle Class will be accepted.

        1. Well at least i won't have to worry about jury duty again.

      2. Yes then he will have his minions breed with our women and pass on their liberal DNA. Muahahahahhahahah!

        1. It's already happening, man. By 2100, 90% of the world will be related to Tiger Woods.

  14. I'm thinking the Anti-Federalists would be saying "We told you so bitches!" if they were alive right now.

    1. "I warned you! But did you listen to me? Ach, no, it's just a harmless little bunny rabbit, idn't it?"

      1. Yes, there are days when the Holy Hand Grenade looks good...

    1. Oh my God, my life is so much more awesome than I thought. Holy crap.

    2. Sugar-Free is oriental? Hmm. Who woulda thunk it?

  15. So, how do we overthrow this thing?

    1. I think there's a button somewhere, but I lost the user's manual to this thing a while ago...

  16. "But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."--Lysander Spooner

  17. Stop being so negative and fight back! Do not let up! Do not allow the corrupt to keep stealing our freedoms and rights! Do not vote for the same stupid names over and over again. Request changes in our primaries so they are all held on the same day and are all closed. Request term limits. Join others who want to fight this. There are answers...you just have to stop sitting around and whining about it and DO IT!.

  18. Another Obama Czar Heard From: "Good White People" Edition [Kevin D. Williamson]

    Why does the FCC have a "chief diversity officer," and, even if there's a good reason for that, why is he this guy?

    Media Research Center has the goods on Mark "Good White People Have to Step Down" Lloyd:

    Lloyd yesterday said "I am not at the FCC to remove anybody, whatever their color, from power," and that we were incorrect in intimating that it might be something he'd want to do. What we'd done was post audio of Lloyd saying:

    "Because we have really, truly good white people in important positions. And the fact of the matter is that there are a limited number of those positions. And unless we are conscious of the need to have more people of color, gays, other people in those positions we will not change the problem. We're in a position where you have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power."


    1. "In Venezuela, with Chavez, is really an incredible revolution - a democratic revolution. To begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela.

      "The property owners and the folks who then controlled the media in Venezuela rebelled - worked, frankly, with folks here in the U.S. government - worked to oust him. But he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country."

      - Mark Lloyd

    2. "It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press. This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.

      "[T]he purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance."

      - Mark Lloyd

  19. One man's Bill of Rights is another man's hit list.

  20. Since this post is basically a repost of the cato article, I finally feel it's appropriate to ask this question that's been bothering me for ages: does cato's site have comments, and if so, where are they? If not, why should we trust anyone that doesn't let you debate their ideas (and I do trust cato, I just find it hypocritical)?

  21. we have really, truly good white people in important positions.

    But, good Christ! that doesn't mean you'd want to share a water fountain with them.

    1. What poisoned well does he keep pulling these people out of?

      1. Gobbler: the problem isn't a poisoned well, its a defunct DNA strain. >:)

  22. Anyone else read his article as a list of grievances?

    Next tea-party can deliver it to congress.

  23. I'll add the FTC's payola-for-bloggers rule to the list of the first amendment problems this year.

  24. I read an article a while back (might have even been Reason) which explained how the WoD had impacted all ten of the BoR, including the third.

    The arguement was that drug testing was no different than having a soldier (or cop) sitting in your house making sure that you weren't breaking any drug laws.

    Made sense to me.

    ... Hobbit

  25. I wish I could disagree. I can't!

  26. God-given, please.
    Gawd gave us the rights we wanted after we created him in our image??
    Gawd is a joke - we're going to sink/swim on our own...right now it's pretty much in the "sink" corner.
    Our problem is - US.

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