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In This Together: Constitutional views put rights vs. reason
by Louise R. Shaw | Clipper Staff Writer
Mar 01, 2012 | 571 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By what stretch of logic is telling a lie protected by the First Amendment?

How can a case of made-up military medals have gotten past enough judges to make it to the Supreme Court, as in the case of the Stolen Valor Act?

What can we possibly be thinking when we continue to find meaning from our country’s governing document and its amendments that just simply isn’t there.

Free speech is not a blanket absolute. You aren’t free to tell someone you can earn 20 percent on their investments when you’re using their money to pay earlier investors. That’s fraud.

You can’t write something about someone that isn’t true. That’s libel. And as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said almost 100 years ago, you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater when there isn’t one. That’s dangerous.

In a rational society, there have to be laws to protect and to ensure order and safety and fairness.

And the foundation for those laws was laid down by some clear-thinking individuals with a mix of credentials who would look conservative in our day, but who had some exceptional understanding based not just on intellect and study, but on extensive experience.

That document has been only rarely changed and only after extensive consideration, debate and the agreement of more than a majority.

Now the changes come more often from the judges than the people, though the judges seem to be following the fickle preferences of the people rather than the principles George Washington stated quite simply as “good and evil.”

“I have diligently sought the public welfare;” he said in 1756, “and have endeavoured to inculcate the same principles in all that are under me. These reflections will be a cordial to my mind as long as I am able to distinguish between Good & Evil.”

How our Constitution came to be interpreted as allowing women to end the lives of their unborn children is difficult to understand.

How people can argue it should be used to allow men to marry men and women, women, must have James Madison shaking his head. Or banging it against a wall.

I once worked to amend the constitution of Oregon. It was only necessary because the state’s supreme court judges had declared long-standing laws against obscenity unconstitutional.

In my studies to prepare for the debates, I learned that the laws shot down had been written shortly after the state constitution was written, which could only have meant that they were OK by the state’s founding fathers and those who followed over the next 100-some years.

Something has changed.

We are re-interpreting history to our great disadvantage.

We are re-writing logical, rational standards to our great shame.

Something needs to change again.

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