Friday, August 27, 2010

The Ground Zero Mosque and Civics 101

Recently I had an ongoing conversation on a forum for the Santa Cruz Sentinel about the ground zero mosque. I have decided to repeat some of it because it has become obvious the much of the American citizenry don't understand their Constitution and Bill of Rights. The first blog demonstrated the most common mistake, once you get past that the issue is not whether the builders have the right to build the mosque, this lack of understanding takes front stage.

"Like most emotional subjects, mosque controversy is producing more heat than light. When the anger and fear are stripped away, this is a simple question: Do the owners of this property have the right to build a community center that will contain a Muslim mosque? The answer clearly is yes. The arguments raised by the opponents are irrational and fear-based. Our Constitution specifically protects this freedom and prohibits its infringement. I am saddened by the entire controversy. It is not a proud day for our country."
&
"You can't say you believe in the 1st Amendment, then turn around and say, "But they should build somewhere else."

The red herring being thrown out by the progressive left about the ground zero mosque is this is all about the First Amendment and religious freedom; this could not be further from the truth. The reason is the Bill of Rights protects the citizenry from government, but does not restrain the citizenry. If we all agree that government has no say so about building the mosque, then whatever the citizens say or demonstrate about has no attachment to the Constitution's protection against government intrusion. The citizenry is therefore protected by the First Amendment to protest the mosque; you can't claim one right to the exclusion of another. The fact that citizens want to uphold the mosque's Constitutional right to be built and can still say the disagree where it is being built should be applauded as it demonstrates the Constitutions protection of free speech. Thomas Jefferson said, as long as you don't pick my pocket or kick me in the leg, I don't care what else you do.

The Constitution also protects the minority from being trampled over by the majority. You aren't allowed to lynch Muslims simply because some sick majority has gotten their fever up and thinks they have a right ... simply because they are the majority. And I use the term "majority" lightly. Just because a group makes the most noise, it doesn't mean they are the majority.

Your are right as far as you go. The Constitution does protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority, but only if the trampling (or tyranny) is done through or by GOVERNMENT. If a majority of the citizenry attempts tyranny over a minority or individual (which does not rise to the level of criminal action), then the minority's redress is in Civil Court, where there are civil penalties, not criminal penalties. Lynching is primarily a violation of the criminal codes of kidnapping and murder, not a federal constitutional violation. There have been exceptions, but mostly when the federal governments believes the state GOVERNMENT violated the victim's rights. There are also are also so called “hate crimes” which are generally described as a person violating the “civil (or Constitutional rights) of another. However, these civil rights violations are actually enhancements to state statute law violation and not federal Constitutional rights, and do not come into play unless a criminal violation has first occurred. Further, most hate crimes enhancements are a violation state constitutional rights, not federal constitutional rights. In the mind of many, it is the State overreaching, wanting a perpetrator to be punished not just for his crime, not for his intentions, but the thought process behind his intentions; in essence it' s a thought crime. It's a shame that our citizenry is not taught basic civics in school. The only penalty a citizen can pay for tyranny (short of a criminal violation) is that which can be calculated monetarily. That's why there are so many damn lawyers..

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