An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘The Constitution’

Depending on the Constitution

There are a lot of issue that nobody really thinks about too heavily anymore that are not talked about in the American zeitgeist.  Or rather, they are talked about, but they are not given the attention that they deserve because people want to make the problem simpler, and what’s more, they want to make the problem go away.  They don’t want to think too heavily about it, because they don’t want to admit that there is a problem.  That part of the issue makes sense to me.  The world is a hopelessly complicated place.  Everybody wants everything to be simpler.  Look at organized religion, and tell me I’m wrong.  But the fact is that things aren’t simple.  Things are actually very complicated, and there is a problem with that.

My friend, and fellow political person, John Aronno, once said that there was a time in this country (the 90’s.  I know, ancient history) when things that actually matter could be talked about in government.  You could talk about gay marriage, gun legislation, legalizing pot.  You could talk about these things.  But John also pointed out how the new strategy of the conservative party (the Republicans) in this country is to bring legislation to the table that is so unbelievably insane that the liberal community is constantly forced to fight back to keep the insane from being turned into law (I’m talking to you, South Dakota, with your proposed legislation to kill abortion providers!).

The reason that I bring this up is because there is an argument that is used in this country that is horribly used.  The fact is that it has been used too often.  The argument is the one that “it’s in the Constitution, therefore, it is absolutely correct.”  A lot of people are not going to like this reporter, but the fact is that this needs to be talked about.  The fact is that the Constitution is not a complete infallible work of genius that isn’t open to interpretation.

Ex-governor Jesse Ventura once said, when he was asked on Joy Behar’s show on CNN, “…the Constitution says they can do it, it ends there!”  This is a huge logical fallacy.  This is a really ugly logical fallacy that people need to start understanding why it is so ugly, instead of just burying their head in the sand and saying “la-la-la, I can’t hear you!  The Constitution is backing me up, so I can’t hear you!”

See the above image, that is the way the people who only want to view the Constitution as never needing to be examined tend to view life.  This issue came up again after the shooting of Gabby Giffords.  She was gunned down by a crazed man who had an extended magazine and not only did he nearly kill the congresswoman, he killed a judge, and a small child.  I love the quote that Lawrence O’Donnell had, “I blame the individual for the first ten bullets.  I blame the law for the next 21.” 

After her shooting, the NRA quickly got up in arms about how there should be not talk of gun legislation in the wake of that event.  There was a lot of chest-thumping and things to be said from people like “the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms!”  There have been a ton of signs about that with the bigoted Tea Party protests.  Joyce Kaufman, said once, “I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment.”  The hopeless ignorance in that is overwhelming.  Of course, she subsequently said, “if ballots won’t work, bullets will.”  (what a great way to encourage democracy, talk about killing people)

The Constitution of the United States of America is not a perfect document, ladies and gentlemen.  It is far from a perfect document.  People who want to believe it as infallible are people who are just looking to be used.  Granted, it is an amazing document.  You couldn’t get all the people in our government right now to be able to create a document like it.  But the problem is that it isn’t a perfect document.

Let’s examine the Second Amendment, for a moment.  If I were to interpret the Second Amendment loosely enough, I should be able to own an ICBM on my property, if I can afford it (an ICBM is an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile, for those of you who don’t know).  I have the right to bear arms.  So, I should be able to have that.  And let’s also examine this- do you know what arms was back in the days of the Founding Fathers?  Arms in those days was a musket that had no range, barely any accuracy.  It was a hopelessly cumbersome weapon that anybody could have, but few could make very useful.

The Founding Fathers had no idea what a weapon was.  They had no idea what today’s firearms look like!  They wouldn’t know what to do with a concept of a 30-round magazine!  The fact is that the Constitution suffers from something that many films suffer from- age.

Let’s look at a different law.  It used to be, back when there was still slavery in this country, that a slave counted as 3/5 of a person.  That’s right, black Americans, you used to be regarded as 3/5 of a person, once upon a time.  Can you imagine if somebody tried to propose something like that today?!  There would be all manners of chaos breaking out in the street!  It would be insanity of the worst kind! 

So, when you are defending a position, like building an Islamic community center in New York City near the site of Ground Zero, or when you are going to talk about keeping extended magazines on the shelves and have it be 17 cents to kill a politician in this country, don’t use the Constitution as your own defense of your position.  The fact is that that is ignorance.  It is not having to think too deeply and not having to defend yourself too vigorously, while you pretend to be knowledgable about something.  That kind of thinking is not good, for either the liberals or the conservatives.

Peace out,


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