Bill of Rights Day 2000
by Ari Armstrong, December 22, 2000
A coalition of civil libertarians celebrated Bill of Rights Day on December 15 in Loveland. Tom Buchanan of the Tyranny Response Team took the lead in organizing the event. Speakers included Sheriff Jim Alderden; Bob Glass, editor of Partisan Magazine; Tom Bender, County Commissioner; Ari Armstrong (comments below); Sue Rehg of the Second Amendment Sisters; and other Colorado activists. Around 100 people attended.
The TRT posted additional photographs of the event at http://trt-co.org/bill_of_rights/story/co-bord-story.htm. A detailed history of the Bill of Rights can be found at http://www.constitution.org/dhbr.htm.
Photographs: The Northern Colorado Drum and Fife Corps open the ceremonies with patriotic music. Bob Glass and Cal Smith give impassioned defenses of the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights Still Means What it Says
Ari Armstrong presented the following speech December 15, 2000 at the Loveland Bill of Rights celebration.
Thomas Paine said, "We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in... Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it."
Paine spoke of truth and courage. Let us begin with truth.
True or false: The words, "Congress shall make no law" mean Congress shall make no law.
True or false: The words, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," mean that right shall not be infringed.
True or false: The words, "The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated," mean that people will be so secure.
According to some, the Constitution does not mean what it says.
In his recent dissenting opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens, citing a decision from the 1930s, wrote:
Of course, as a general matter, "the interpretation of constitutional principles must not be too literal. We must remember that the machinery of government would not work if it were not allowed a little play in its joints."
Friends, the entire train has run off its track, and Justice Stevens is talking about a little "play in the joints!" Either the Constitution means what it says, or it means nothing at all.
Unfortunately, many in today's society believe that words don't mean what they say they mean. Our president debates over what the meaning of the word "is," is. The Gore camp claimed the desire to "count every vote," even as it sought to throw out Republican votes from the military and select absentee ballots. The left decries "the politics of personal destruction" -- unless they want to destroy their own political opponents.
We also hear outright lies, such as the claim "gun owners are more likely to injure a family member or friend than to defend against a criminal." Even though that claim is demonstrably false, it has been repeated so often that many people believe it to be true.
Euphemism is also a political tool. Recently, the phrase "will of the people" meant that the Gore camp wanted to count ballots which were in fact never marked.
Are these contradictions from the left? If we see the rhetoric of the left as flagrantly contradictory, then we are evaluating it by the wrong standards. For the left, words are not tools to convey meaning or truth. Instead, words are weapons. The purpose of using language is to gain political power. Logical consistency is not the standard by which leftists evaluate their comments. Today, the poison of postmodernism courses through the veins of leftists.
But this strategy of using words as weapons, as tools to gain political power, is just the latest strategy of the kleptocracy. In ancient Egypt, the rulers duped the people by convincing them the rulers were gods. They built mighty structures to prove it.
Today, we look upon that age with amazed incredulity. How could they have been so foolish? It is my hope that future generations will look back upon this era with the same perspective. How could some Americans have been so foolish?
But to restore the Bill of Rights, to have them again taken "literally" in our society and by our courts, will require us to have courage. We must not back down from empty slogans. We must not fall into the trap of one-directional "compromise." Nor must we fall into the trap of the politics of appeasement.
We must ourselves become eloquent spokespersons for freedom. We must use words to persuade as well as to convey the truth. Only then will the Bill of Rights again become more than words on parchment, they will become the guiding principles of our society.