The Asterisks in Our Bill of Rights

For hundreds of years, people in our country would say, “I may not like what you say, but I’ll toilet paper every tree in your yard.” Actually, that’s NOT what people said. Because of our Bill of Rights, they would say, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend your right to say it.” And people meant it. It was our Freedom of Speech, the first right afforded by the Bill of Rights.

It was a polite way of saying that everyone in America has the right to voice their opinion, even if it may be an odious opinion. Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, Christians and atheists could all agree with the fact that we have to be respectful of everyone’s right to their own speech.

Our nation has always had inflamed debates and heated conversation. From independence to states’ rights to the Vietnam War, Americans have learned to raise their voices about things they believe in, but also to show respect when others need to voice differing opinions.

Respect for others, even for our opponents, is a long-held tradition in our society. And this is based on the Christian mandates of loving our neighbor, even if that neighbor is an enemy. Christianity teaches that we should not seek revenge against those who hurt us. We can defend ourselves, but we should also show mercy. When that conflict is a war of words, that means we fight fair.

This has been the way of Americans for a long time. However, modern research has changed all that. Historian Kawlmia Lyre was studying the original Bill of Rights and saw the following:

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;

Did you see it? It was an asterisk! All this time we had been reading the Bill of Rights without realizing there was an asterisk next to the Freedom Of Religion clause.  Lyre looked at the bottom of the Bill of Rights and discovered this little tidbit:

* Unless we don’t like what your religion believes.

(That was right on the bottom next to a short grocery list for George Washington. )

Funny, that. It had been overlooked for a long time probably because people got confused reading the 3rd amendment about soldiers finding quarters and nickels in other people’s houses.

This, it turns out, is an important discovery. It used to be that Judeo-Christian beliefs were thought to be inspired by God, or even transmitted to humans directly by the Great Almighty. And those beliefs had eternal consequences. Follow God’s ways and be blessed. Turn from God’s ways and you will find the opposite.

According to Lyre, none of that matters any more. This was picked up recently by Hillary Clinton when she said

“Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Wow! It was great of Hillary to clarify that for us. She has given us permission to change our religious beliefs. In fact, she says we must change our religious beliefs.

The same was said by Frank Bruni of the New York Times. In the wake of a freedom of religion issue in Indiana, he said that Christians have to change:

Homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere…So our debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.

So we need to free Christianity from its’ prejudices, which obviously includes a prohibition on Christianity. So the Scripture’s prohibition on homosexuality can be ignored now. Wow! How simple! I wonder what else we people of faith can just ignore? Maybe Jesus isn’t the only way to heaven after all!

But there’s more. If you go back to the text above from the Bill of Rights, you will also find a double asterisk. Lyre found the double asterisk was on the back next to a phone number for someone named “Glenda”. Concerning the Freedom Of Speech, said

**“unless we don’t like your opinion, such as objection to controversial subjects such as climate change.”

Wow! And to think that all those American soldiers died to protect our country’s Freedom Of Speech. Obviously, that was completely unnecessary. Think of all of the lives that we will save simply by making sure everyone agrees with what prevailing opinion thinks is right! It doesn’t get better than this!

Anyway, we now know that there is no need to respect dissenting opinion. Freedom of speech is conditional now. That explains why we can’t question the concept of climate change any more. Environmentalists have declared that Global Climate Change is “settled science” in spite of the fact that:

  • Warming stopped in 1997
  • There is no scientific consensus that it’s man-made
  • The computer climate models predicting warming have been wrong over and over
  • Predictions made by famous climate change promoters have been wrong (Gore said Arctic ice would be gone by 2013.)

But we don’t have to listen that that drivel any more. We can simply put our fingers in our ears and say repetitively, “La la la la la la la …”

But the real plus is that we can now call people  “ignorant”, “hateful”, and  “giant poop-heads” for denying climate change. Reasoned debate is so “last millenium”.  We’re enlightened and progressive. We can probably start moving all of those evangelical Christians and climage change deniers to concentration camps now. And don’t forget the lobotomies.

Thanks, Mr. Lyre. You’ve made my life much simpler now.