Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Preamble Rambling

My daughter just started seventh grade. They’re studying US history, presently The U.S. Constitution. It’s heady stuff. She’s had to memorize the Preamble, and while there is some uncommon language it’s all pretty straight-forward – and powerful. I was going to just point to a copy on the web at, say,, but it’s worth duplicating it here (and copyright should not be an issue, :-) ):

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

That’s about as strong an opening on as serious of a topic as there is in our civil life, yet our general citizenry in this day and age only really pays attention to it when they’re in secondary school. “… secure the Blessings of Liberty”, not just for the framers (who were largely regular citizens) and their contemporaries, but for their posterity (that’d be us, now). And they were sure to include tantamount precepts like separation and balance of powers and the Bill of Rights for individuals.

Just to take one example from that Bill, the first amendment, again is strong stuff:

“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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In the face of that founding right, how do we have stories like the one coming out of Minneapolis today where 3 videographers had their cameras, equipment and notes confiscated by police (Minneapolis cops confiscate cameras)? Prima facie it flies against the most basic tenets of our government and I don’t understand why it’s not the top news story of the day. Maybe someday my daughter will explain it to me.

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