Image: oilempire.usThe Teabags have been waving the 10th Amendment, the 14th Amendment, and now, are once again attacking the favorite target of the extreme right, the 1st Amendment and our freedom of speech. Remember, it was Sarah Palin who said that it was the Constitutional protections provided by the 1st Amendment that protected her from the media (this during her campaign when she was a government official). Our favorite teabags, Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell, have been seen running away from media in order to ensure their protection from the media which, of course, they have the right to do. Bizarre. But their right. Unfortunately, our elected officials, including those running for office, have an obligation to answer our questions. This is why the 1st Amendment was included in the Constitution; to protect the media from the government, but that's another issue. Once again, the Pledge of Allegiance is in the news and once again, it is being held up as the yardstick by which many measure one's patriotism or the lack thereof. And once again, even those who are supposed to know the law do not seem to understand that it is optional.
Full disclosure. I am a Quaker. We do not swear on Bible's or other religious tomes, take oaths, or pledge allegiance to anything.
What many people do not understand, is that the freedom that allows the teabags to rally against "Obamacare," and wave truly repugnant signs depicting hateful and racist imagery of the President, is the same freedom that allows people to choose not to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
On Oct. 6, 2010, an attorney by the name of Danny Lampley was arrested while in court in Tupelo, Mississippi. The judge requested that everyone present stand and say the pledge, and when Mr. Lampley refused, he was arrested. He was released five hours later, but told that he could have the contempt citation purged when he returned to the courtroom and said the pledge. This was not the first time that this attorney had had a run-in with this judge about this issue as discussed here
A resident of Tupelo, a Bobby Martin, was quoted as saying:
"If he can't say that in front of a judge, he don't deserve to be here" in this country."
Certainly, Mr. Martin has the freedom to say this, but come on, people who rant at others for simply expressing a different belief are no less American and when these people suggest they don't deserve to be here, where should they go?
If this situation in Mississippi were an isolated one, I'd let it go without comment, but there is an ongoing pattern here, and with teabags saying increasingly kooky things and actually appearing to have some traction, I'm concerned when my rights and freedoms are being attacked. One of the reasons that I write this blog is to illuminate issues that I believe are not given enough media notice.
In 2009, the ACLU who battles these cases had to contact the Hubbard, Ohio high school authorities and remind them of the right of a student to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance after she had been disciplined on more than one occasion. A simple Google search brings back numerous instances of, usually schools, misunderstanding their authority over students relative to the pledge, and numerous instances of the courts upholding the rights of individuals to refuse to stand and/or recite the pledge without penalty.
Know what's really amusing about all of this? Back in 1892, a man named Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister wrote the pledge. His cousin, Edward, had written some books about utopian socialism, and Francis attempted to embody that philosophy in his pledge. Mr. Bellamy considered himself a Christian socialist. Francis preached, and Edward wrote, about their belief in a country centered around a society in which everyone was equal in a planned social, political, and economic structure. They suggested that the role of government would be to run an economy similar to a military industrial complex.
The original pledge contained the words "my flag" and nothing about God. At the National Flag Conferences held in 1923 and 1924, "my flag" was changed to "the flag." After a campaign engineered by the Knights of Columbus, in 1954 Congress added the words "under God."
With the extreme rights paranoia of socialism and Beck preaching against social justice, and any governmental program that might appear to serve the disadvantaged, it's kind of ironic that it was two men writing of a socialist, utopian ideal who created our Pledge of Allegiance.
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