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The Trouble With Constitutional Interpretations

Author: Chris P. Bacon

Tue Apr 23 2019


Editor's note - 2019-04-25: It has been brought to my attention that this is more of an opinion piece than it is a fake news article. And that really does go against the spirit of the site. And for that I apologize. This article stand as the last time I will break character like that. I'm not going to take it down. No point in trying to erase my mistake. What's done is done. But I also learn from my mistakes. So I will not burden the internet with another piece like this one. Now, back to our regularly scheduled article already in progress.

UNITED STATES - You would think it's a fairly straightforward document, the Constitution. For the most part it is. It is basically the rule of law and the basis for which many legal decisions are ultimately made. What doesn't seem to make a lot of sense is how two different groups can see the exact same text and have wildly different interpretations as to what it means.

The original document, awesome and straightforward as it was, was not perfect. It needed to be updated. And fortunately, the framers of the document left in place a process by which the document could be updated. In a word, amended. So far this has happened 27 times. The first 10 amendments are the Bill of Rights. Hard to believe they left those out the first time... This is also the reason that all 10 were adopted and ratified simultaneously. The first 2 of these are among the hottest topics in the country right now. Mostly because of how completely differently those amendments are viewed. This is usually because of ignorance. People just don't understand what the texts really say. But more usually it's because a bad interpretation has been spread around to such an extent that people never knew what was originally meant. In some cases, the words are just twisted around.

In this segment, we would like to take a look at a couple of amendments to try to get a handle on why people view them so differently. For the sake of brevity, we are only doing the first two . At some point we may do more. Or we won't...



The First Amendment
If you want to read the original text, please click the link above...

In short, it says that we have freedom of speech, freedom to assemble peacefully, and freedom of religion, and the government won't declare an official religion.

How Liberals and progressives interpret it:
Speech: You have the right to speak out, notably against the government, and the government is not allowed to have you arrested. But this does not mean that you are allowed to just say whatever stupid shit crosses your mind, especially if it is hateful, dangerous, or offensive. This also means that you should not expect any government entity to protect you from the reaction of those you piss off. Privately owned systems have every right to boot you off if you use their service to violate other people's rights.

Assembly: You are allowed to assemble in large groups to protest or draw attention to any issue. The government will not stop you from doing this as long as you don't violate other's civil rights, get loud, violent, or worse riot and looting. It is generally expected that when you assemble you are doing so peacefully with the the intention of showing how many people agree with your view.

Religion: Freedom to practice your religion, or lack thereof. As long as you are still following the laws of the country, you can do whatever you want, and worship who/whatever you want. Goat sacrifices and honor killings are still not allowed even if your religion says it's cool. You are not allowed to deny people service or other violations of civil rights because you don't like their skin color or lifestyle, and your religion says that's ok. You may also choose to not worship anyone. In no way will the government ever sanction, condone, or demand any one religion.

How Conservatives interpret it:
Speech: You have the right to say whatever you want to say, no matter how hateful, offensive, dangerous, or volatile. Not just about the government - anyone or anything. And the great thing is, because it's your right, you don't have to worry about any repercussions! Things that you say in private can never ever be repeated because that was supposed to be private.

Assembly: You are allowed to gather anywhere at any time and loudly protest in hateful manner, anything that you don't like. The more that people tell you that such nonsense is not protected by free speech, and what you are doing is hateful and offensive, the more you are allowed to yell that you are right, and stop being intolerant of our intolerance! "Don't make me back up this car into a crowd!"

Religion: You are free to practice your religion without persecution, as long as it's Christianity. All other religions are not real religions, and are not worthy of any sort of respect. Especially Islam. Forget about any freedom for them. Christianity should be the official religion of the country. Many think it actually is, even though it is not. In fact it is expressly forbidden in this same amendment. You are free to deny people service simply because your religion tells you it's okay to be xenophobic, racist, and/or homophobic.


The Second Amendment

In short, it says that we have the right to bear arms, and the government won't do anything to stop it.

How Liberals and progressives interpret it: This was written at a time when it was fairly routine for citizens (in Europe) to not be allowed to own weapons of any kind. This made them powerless against a hostile government. It also made them powerless to defend their own land from invaders from other lands. For the security of the country at large, having an armed and regulated militia on hand was a good idea. So it was determined that it was necessary to allow citizens to own weapons for protection, self-defense, or hunting... To this day, this seems reasonable to most people. Especially since when the amendment was written, "heavy firepower" was a single-shot musket. No one ever anticipated that machine guns or even semi-automatic assault rifles would become so common and easy for consumers to purchase. They certainly never expected that anyone would ever use such weapons against innocent civilians. That was just NOT anticipated. As such, some sensible regulation should be in effect. We don't think that the need for a hobby like collecting murder weapons is more important that the security and safety of the people.
The progressives do not expect the guns to be taken away entirely. But some sense needs to be applied to how the sales, and post sales, are currently managed.

How Conservatives interpret it: You are allowed to own any weapon from a pea shooter to a Sherman Tank and everything in between. The government can not even suggest that there be any sane restrictions put on purchases, amount of ammunition, firepower, or anything else. All firearms can be purchased without anyone having anything to say about it. If you want to stockpile an entire room full of military assault rifles, so you and all your friends can use them for deer hunting, you are allowed to do that. It is necessary to have these weapons, because all the bad guys already have them. People get shot all the time every day. "I got shot at twice yesterday!!" So you should be able to carry your murder weapons with you wherever you go. Because you never know when you may have to shoot a bad guy.
All that stuff that happens with people using their guns to murder people is not our problem because law abiding gun owners NEVER do that. Why should they have to not be allowed to own murder weapons just because some crazy people use them for the purpose which they were designed?

Clearly there is a Liberal slant to this story, and I suppose it would be difficult for it to be otherwise. As much as I've thought about this and examined the evidence that is literally all over the place every day, it is hard to draw different conclusions. But people will. The whole point of this article is that people only take what they want to take from what they read.

It should be noted that the things I'm describing here are the extremes of each side. There is probably way more middle ground than there are extremes. For that reason, just about everyone is going to object to some part of this. If you happen to be one of those people, I offer no apologies. Your actions are what creates this perception. So it must be your actions that prove those perceptions wrong. Don't let your actions be of the type I've described here if you don't want to be called out for it.


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