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No redoubt will long stand for those who would not share the blessings of liberty

May 16, 2022

By Mike Weland, Publisher

This country's founders were consummate writers, who, with great deliberation and care, drafted for us a constitution establishing the basic form and principals of our government using very much that same language  extant today. Like writers of any age, they strove to be concise and unambiguous, to make the words mean precisely what the writers intended for all days to come.

Yet as in every age since man's first words were chiseled onto clay tablets around 5,000 years ago, even words set in stone have been misunderstood, misinterpreted, deliberately twisted to a cause or promote an ideology often extreme, often obviously opposite of original intent. As a species, supposedly intelligent, we seem inordinately adept at taking good ideas to absurd and dangerous extremes that deliver us to the brink of disaster. We are in such a time now.

Let's take the first amendment of this nation's constitution, for example, one dear to me as publisher of a free press, and one I am accused of violating too often of late by those without understanding..

The first amendment reads, in its entirety, "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."

Six simple concepts, easily understood by those of reason and tolerance.

The elected legislative body of our government, entrusted with deriving and enacting the laws by which our citizens agree to abide, shall not enact any law establishing a favored or official national religion. That same body shall make no law prohibiting any citizen the right to freely live and abide by their own chosen religion, no matter their faith or lack thereof.

No law enacted by congress shall deprive a citizen their right to speak, to protest. No law of Congress shall stifle the right of anyone to tell the story by whatever means they have at their disposal.

No law enacted by congress shall deny peaceful gatherings, even if and especially when such gatherings be in response to actions taken by the government and its assigns offensive to those gathering.

Please note: Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution speak to race, creed, color or religion.

I recently received a missive intended as a letter to the editor. ""Not that many people care what you think," he wrote, naming someone who'd recently had a letter published on these pages. A day or two later, a second missive; "Are you going to post my comment? It's my 1st Admen right......Are you going to be bias ?" (sic)

By no account was it a letter, but a simple declarative statement based on an assumption, that no, I did not publish. I think the irony of it was lost on him, asserting his right to free speech so as to deny the same to another. Under the first amendment, does he have the right to say it? Absolutely. Am I obligated to publish? No.

Another step.

Should the U.S government regulate abortion?

Remember the idea of protecting a citizen's right to freely abide their own chosen religion? It is not the task of government, as established by our federal and state constitutions, to legislate morality, especially a nation founded on the principals of religious freedom and diversity. If your religious or moral beliefs prohibit you from getting an abortion, you have the absolute right to not get one. But you don't have the right to force your religious or moral certitude on the many who don't share them. And notice, too, my use of the word "you" in the second sentence of this paragraph?

If you aren't the one pregnant, you have no say in the decision unless the one who is seeks and heeds your counsel.

I think the hypocrisy is lost on the fervent right to lifers who can overlook the long line of atrocities of a nation that sanctioned countless forced abortions and sterilizations among the indigenous and black peoples of our country. If our government could kill theirs, who are we to assert the concept of the enforced sanctity to ours?

Yet one more.

In May, 2020, George Floyd, a human being and a citizen of the United States, died, the knee of a peace officer on his neck. The country erupted. Heated protests occurred, citizens pleading for lawful redress of undeniable and long pending grievances. They were belittled and met with disregard. There were acts of violence, most instigated by counter protesters so as to quell the rights of those protesting lawfully. Those of the far right blamed Antifa and Black Lives Matter, blame amplified in right wing media and by many in our halls of government.

On January 6, a torrent fell on the nation's capitol, disrupting an assembly of congress. Theirs was no peaceful assembly, no petition to seek redress as afforded. There was only violence. Insurrection instigated by a president bent on overturning a constitutionally mandated and lawful election based on unfounded assertions of fraud. so as to cling to his hold on the reins of power. Those of the far right, the right wing media and many in the halls of government called it a peaceful gathering.

An insurrection is one of few crimes specified by our constitution.

Those of the far right now seeking public offices at all levels throughout our land speak of liberty and freedom, but they are not about ensuring the guarantees of constitutionally afforded rights belonging to all this nation's citizens. Instead, they are bent on preserving the status quo, rolled back, of course, to that halcyon time when they and theirs, mainly white evangelicals, could openly demand others step off the sidewalk to let them pass, could openly demand schools in which their children could be spared association with those lesser. A world where they ruled the roost and treated with benevolence those others who knew and kept their place.

But that world changed slowly and painfully over too long a period of time as we, the people, holding to truths deemed self-evident by our founders, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, worked, struggled and often died to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

There can be no turning back. Lest the entire edifice falls and our union and its constitution become no more, no redoubt will long stand to protect those who refuse to share equally with all this nation's citizens the blessings of liberty.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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