The Agitator #74 - The Constitution
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
May 30, 2013 08:41 AM | 1085 views | 22 22 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident last December created a plethora of opinions concerning gun rights and the Second Amendment and all sorts of proposed legislation, such as lifting some of the exceptions to background checks. I don’t recall in my lifetime the volume of commentary, media stories, and coffee group discussions about this subject. The special interest groups were out in full force, especially the NRA, as they poured money into political campaign funds to ensure that their interpretation of the Second Amendment carried the day.

 

Since the most recent debates on the Second Amendment, there have been other constitutional questions to arise, and it has been especially interesting to observe how conservatives don’t seem to view other amendments with the same reverence. Several examples come to mind. One concerns the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause. When Ed Buckner, a strong and vocal advocate of religious freedom protested the placing of Bibles in state operated lodging facilities, he was condemned for bashing Christians. Yet the neutral role of the state concerning religious matters protects all beliefs, and one can only wonder if the same Christians who denounced Buckner would have a problem if the state placed a Koran in every state-run hotel room, even at no cost to the state. It’s also interesting to note how conservatives fall back on the understanding of the Founding Fathers, as though they spoke with one voice, yet they don’t recognize Thomas Jefferson as a Founding Father when it comes to his 1802 letter to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists in which he described the “Wall of Separation” between church and state.

Then there is Lois Lerner, the IRS official who was subpoenaed to testify by a congressional committee. The Attorney General had already announced that the Justice Department was conducting a criminal investigation into the IRS for targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny when Lerner had the audacity, on advice of counsel to take the Fifth Amendment and not testify. From the denunciations on reactionary talk radio you would have thought that Lerner was a communist for daring to exercise a right under the same Bill of Rights that the Second Amendment can be found. One congressman said that he would consider holding Lerner in contempt, never mind that he would not offer Lerner immunity for her testimony, which is standard procedure for compelling a witness to testify.

Locally was the recent indictment of state representative Tyrone Brooks. Brooks, another audacious American, dared to invoke his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment. And even worse, Brooks had the temerity to retain former Governor Roy Barnes to defend him. It doesn’t get more un-American than that to some people’s warped vision of the Constitution. One anonymous blogger underneath the MDJ story described Barnes as a “lawyer scumbag who protects other scumbags.” Another anonymous blogger wrote that Barnes “was just as crooked as (Brooks) was.” Again, the presumption of innocence, the right to counsel, and requiring the state to meet its burden of proof means nothing to many who call themselves “constitutionalists.”

Surprisingly, or maybe not, a local group that proclaims itself as defender of the Constitution and the rights it affords, didn’t utter a single word in the three instances I cited. Perhaps the group’s political agenda doesn’t fit with unpopular people who exercise their rights. My educated guess is that those who denounce others for exercising their constitutional rights, often the same denouncers who think there is only one amendment, are usually the quickest to discover and claim their other rights when it involves them personally. And that’s the way it should be--despite the utter hypocrisy. All of our rights are sacred even if one’s cause just happens to be unpopular, and all those rights should be defended and protected.

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EM Buckner
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June 07, 2013
Off Balance, like theists everywhere, is perfectly willing to twist words that he insists are from God and whose meaning he will otherwise claim is clear and unambiguous. I invite readers--if there are any left--of these exchanges to go to a site such as biblegateway.com and look up the actual verses OB cites. Doing so will reveal such non sequiturs as claiming that the Bible verse about knowing the truth, which will set you free, is somehow a statement in support of free speech! And other religions all claim their own "sacred" texts are the source that reveal the truth and "set you free," of course.

Any honest preacher (surely there are some) will tell you that biblical freedom is the "freedom" to obey God, not the kind of individual freedom to make up our own minds, speak our own conclusions, etc. The First Commandment quite bluntly contradicts the First Amendment. Does OB honestly think that a God who commands that we have no other gods before Him is OK with each of us having whatever gods--or no god--that we think best?

As Christians tirelessly tell me, those tablets did not give us The Ten Suggestions. Thoughtful readers will find all--not just most--all--of OB's alleged biblical bases for constitutional principles laughable. Twisted meaning and logic that far is as surely torture as water boarding. I'd be delighted to debate, in a public, even-handed, civil debate with OB (or someone more willing to identify himself) as to whether this is--or should be--a Christian nation. And I'd be well satisfied if he tried to use Bible verses like these to make an un-makeable case for his position.
off balance
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June 06, 2013
oliver

samples:

I ask you to tell the readers where in the Bible you find due process mentioned, equal protection, separation of powers, free exercise of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, right to counsel, right to remain silent, right to bear arms, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment

Freedom of speech John 8:32



Freedom of religion Romans 13.3, 13.4

Freedom of Assembly Matthew 4:23

Right to Remain Silent -- Sirach 20:7

Bear arms Samuel 25:13:

Prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Forgot the number, but it read, Thou shalt not be forced to read the opinions of one Oliver Halle lest ye falter in your faith.
off balance
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June 06, 2013
Washington stated: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the

Bible."

Thomas Jefferson said: "The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.... I have always said, I will always say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, better husbands."
anonymous
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June 06, 2013
Oooops----

"it has no gathering place, like a church for fellow "worshipers", has no unanimity of thought like a religious belief, and it has nothing in common with an organized belief system."

HOUSTON (RNS) Sunday mornings at Houston Oasis may have the look and feel of a church, but there's no cross, Bible, hymnal or stained glass depictions of Jesus. There's also nary a trace of doctrine, dogma or theology.

But the 80 or so attendees at this new weekly gathering for nonbelievers come for many of the same reasons that others pack churches in this heavily Christian corner of the Bible Belt -- a sense of community and an uplifting message that will help them tackle the challenges of the coming week, and, maybe, the rest of their lives.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;"

Hat tip to William Shakespeare
off balance
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June 06, 2013
The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that Atheism warrants the same protection as all other religions, and has spoken of “religions based on a belief in the existence of God [and] religions founded on different beliefs."
off balance
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June 06, 2013
I will post more later. simply want to tell you that I truly enjoyed the comments e.g. baldness is a hair color.

Well done!
off balance
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June 06, 2013
Oliver--

Again on the 5th. I did not say it was a ploy. I did not pass judgement on it. I said , at least in my observations, that people have considered it a ploy. For proof of that I suggest that many blog sites may , right now, have comments about the 5th and Lerner that show this wrong impression.

I am not arguing against or for the 5th, I am simply commenting on what my observations show me that people think.
EM Buckner
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June 05, 2013
My last comment should have had the word "creches" where it now says "crates." Auto spell-correct can sure make things worse sometimes. --Ed B.
EM Buckner
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June 05, 2013
Off Balance,

It's quite hard to rebut something not actually on offer. Since the editor, for whatever reason, wouldn't post your alleged bible-constitution connections, why not just pick whatever you think is the clearest example and summarize that? There are certainly things that the framers and Christians generally agree on--but I continue to assert that all of the truly original, exceptionally American, ideas in the constitution are unbiblical--some of them even anti-biblical. In the book of Romans, for one crucial example, Paul asserts that all governmental authorities are put there by God (aka the Divine Right of Kings), so the American rebels were anti-biblical at their core.

And atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby, like baldness is a hair color. Atheism is a constitutionally protected viewpoint on religion, but it is not a religion and it defies logic to say it is. The First Amendment (and even more strongly, the Ga Constitution, Article I, Section II, Paragraph VII) limits government--not individuals--as to what religion or irreligion may be supported. Individuals or private groups can erect crosses, display creates, take Bibles into state park cabins freely--and I have consistently argued that such individual freedoms are not and should not be restricted. But it is not "free exercise of religion" to demand that GOVERNMENTS (at any level) endorse your viewpoint on religion. Regards, Ed B.
Oliver G. Halle
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June 05, 2013
Off Balance,

I provided a list of things in our Constitution not found in the Bible, none of which you refuted. Without evidence to show that I am wrong, I have no reason to accept your conclusory statements. Why don't you summarize in one paragraph the Biblical roots for the Constitution? Why submit sommething that someone else wrote and expect the MDJ to publish it?

Your comment about exercising the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate oneself being a ploy to avoid criminal conviction has a grain of truth, but that's all. In our system the state has the burden of proof, and our Founding Fathers for many historical reasons saw the wisdom in the Fifth Amendment. Somehow I don't think that it was to alleviate the guilty of being convicted of crimes.

In my opinion your reasons for remaining anonymous are lame. I will take you at your word that you are a veteran, but there is no way to verify it. When you choose to write on the MDJ blogs, I think the readers deserve to judge for themselves by knowing who you are, what agendas you might have, if you are a hyporcrit, if you have a checkered past, or if there are any other credibility issues. I doubt you would read a book or article by an author that staked out strong political opinions without knowing something about the author. I have often wondered why the MDJ requires letters to be signed and verified, but not comments submitted electronically. I agree with Foley that anonymity allows people to throw grenades from behind rocks, something they might not do if they didn't have cover.

Atheism is not a religon. It has no holy book that prescribes a certain belief, it has no doctrine or dogma that holds them together, it has no gathering place, like a church for fellow "worshipers", has no unanimity of thought like a religious belief, and it has nothing in common with an organized belief system. Atheists are Republicans, Democrats, veterans, draft dodgers, and more. Their only commonality is a lack of belief in the supernatural.
off balance
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June 04, 2013
Oliver-

I was wrong in my estimate of you. I thought you would recognize and accept that many of the statements and articles and amendments of the Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights were base on the bible.

For now I will adr=dress just one issue. I ask you to go back and read my statement about Lerner. Ypou chose to pretend that I was assailing the amendment when, in fact, I merely stated that many people in the USA look at the use of the 5th as a cover for guilt. I do not, yet you assigned that concept to me. You were wrong to do so. You also attempted to belittle me by implying that I showed disdain for the 5th, which I did not.

So much for that one. Please stop using Foley's methods of rebuttal. It does not become you.

As to diversity of thought, I certainly agree with that. Again, though, it should be obvious that implementation of some of that diversity is harmful to America.

I have a patriotic, love of country and our republic attitude. I am sorry you consider that warped.

I will satisfy some of your obsession (quite like Foley) as to my CV, so to speak. I served my country in the military for four years in one of our conflicts. Everything I have achieved since my military days is owed to Uncle Sam's training. I have helped, over the years, people run for office. Some were Democrats, some Libertarian and some Republicans. I support the candidate that I believe will do the best for America. That usually is , for me, a Conservative in Fiscal matters.

I am a passive member of the Tea Party. I believe that they seek fiscal sanity and are not , as some liberals say, involved in a lot of social issues.

I have a number of military members in my family, some of whom are retired now that were career military.

I choose to not "put my name out there" because I do not wish a dialogue that is beyond the level of participation that I seek. I do not originate columns. You do and so does Foley. You seek the public air. You pronounce your positions. Thus, you make yourself available for criticism and the "who" is not important. What is important ids that you learn that some do not agree with you.

I disagree with you that the bible and the Talmud are not the basis of the Constitution. If the blog editor will publish my post of 6/3, there is proof of much of it.

off balance
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June 04, 2013
Buckner

Yesterday I posted a list of laws and their biblical roots. The MDJ editor chose not to print it. It was a study from Constitution Week, so there might be an issue about copy right.

Atheism is a religion. It is a belief system in which there is no belief in a divine being as contrasted with agnosticism. Atheists will argue it is not a religion. Stymie , at point one. There is , now, a Church of Atheism. If you want your atheist groups to put an atheistic treatise in hotels, have at it. I have no problem with it. I am not trying to control people and their religion--you are. If you wish to post something at Christmas on public grounds, next to a creche, have at it. You are trying to restrict the free practice of religion.

You and Oliver would do well to read the 1st Amendment again. It protects the citizens from interference from the government in , among other issues, religion.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,"

It doesn't say "or whatever EM and Oliver deem to be acceptable in matters of religion".
off balance
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June 03, 2013
Kevin-- I don't usually read your column either, but in your case it is because your espouse economic and political positions that have proven, many times in the past, to be failures.

You are a true Progressive, change for the sake of change with no looking back to check the success or failure of such change.

Of course, I could be wrong, but I believe you revel in the challenges you receive in response to your columns.. Hence, I am not sure of your sincerity when you write you Progressive opinions.

As to reading opinions different from mine, I prefer to read the professionals. I do admit they do not write much different than you and look where the country is now.

Let's pass it and see how it flies!!!
off balance
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June 03, 2013
Federalist Papers #81:

Hamilton, "in the first place there is not a syllable in the plan under the consideration which directly empowers the the national courts to [interpret] the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution , or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every state. "
Nettie Helen Stemm
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June 03, 2013
Kevin, I am curious abotu ypour next column. You said it is written with "narrow minded anonymous people in mind."

Two questions come to mind.

First, by narrow minded I assume you mean people who do not consider others' viewpoints to have any validity. If so, that is a perfect description of you.

Secondly, when you say "anonymous narrow minded" does that include your buddy "Lib in Cobb" who has been appropriately nicknamed "Foley's trained attack dog", for he is certainly narrow minded and chooses to remain anonymous. Or is it permissable to be narrow minde and anonymous as long you agree with everything Foley says?
Kevin Foley
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June 02, 2013
Off balance - They are called STATE parks. That means I own them, you own them and Oliver owns them. I don't want any religion being promoted in my state park. People can bring their bibles to the state park if they wish.

Keep bibles, Korans, etc. out of public facilities. They have no place there.

"I don't read your column..." So typical. God forbid you should read an opinion other than those that affirm what you think you know. Be sure to read next Friday's column. I wrote it with narrow minded, anonymous people like you in mind.
EM Buckner
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May 31, 2013
Oliver Halle, thoughtful analyst and clear, logical writer, certainly needs no help from me. But I cannot resist a short comment to "Off Balance" to round out what Mr. Halle wrote: First, never mind Halle's long and accurate list of constitutional ideas not derived from the Bible. Can you name even one constitutional principle, OB, that does come from the Bible or Christianity? Certainly not elected leaders--that's actually anti-biblical. And second, since you saw fit to "correct" Halle about me, let me correct you: I am indeed, personally, an "advocate of freedom from religion" for any who want to consider such a thing. But I am also, on the record in many ways and for many years, "a strong and vocal advocate of religious freedom"--for everyone, not just for those who agree with me.

And, for what it's worth, I wore the uniform of this nation from February 1969 to December 1970, active duty, and for several years after that in the Army Reserve.

Nettie Helen Stemm
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May 31, 2013
The Supreme Court was quite right in its ruling. The problem is the "government" is not remaining neutral.

This administration, particularly, sees Christianity as a threat and makes no bones about it.

Oliver G. Halle
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May 30, 2013
Off Balance,

First, you have no understanding of the First Amendment Establishment Clause. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government's role when it comes to religion is neutrality. In our country the Supreme Court is the final arbiter on constitutional issues whether one disagrees with the court or not. Buckner has it right; you don't.

I ask you to tell the readers where in the Bible you find due process mentioned, equal protection, separation of powers, free exercise of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, right to counsel, right to remain silent, right to bear arms, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and much more---all found in the Constitution. In fact, the Constitution is a secular document with no reference to God, Jesus or any other deity. But Article VI does provide that no religous oath shall be required to hold public office.



Many constitutional rights are in conflict with each other. Does someone have the right at a school assembly to exercise their "free speech" rights and shout down the speaker? The answer is obvious. Courts have ruled that speech, by way of example can be limited in a lot of ways, to include time, place and manner.

The Fifth Amendment is as sacred as the Second. And in a trial a person's choice to remain silent cannot be held against him/her. There is a long history behind that right that you should read up on so that you can appreciate its signicance vice denigrating it.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you think that all servicemen and people with my civilian background should be monlithic in their thinking, you have a warped view of America. America is a country that not only allows for diverse opinions, it welcomes them in the marketplace of ideas. All organizations that foster diversity of thought and expression are better for it. I served our country willingly and gladly. My ideas about where America should be, where it shoud head, are probably just as worthwhile as those that you believe. America, Off Balance, is not about one idea. It is not about just your world view. And if our country ever becomes one that limits thinking to those in power, we will be something other than the United States of America.

P.S. Tell us about your background, service to this country, what you have contributed to your community, and anything else you can share. Whether you agree with Foley or not, he is willing to put his name out there, and we know that he meets a weekly payroll, something that is very American.
off balance
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May 30, 2013
"When Ed Buckner, a strong and vocal advocate of religious freedom..."

Misstated. It should say, "advocate of freedom from religion".

"if the state placed a Koran in every state-run hotel room,"

To my knowledge , the state did not place them there. The Gideons do. Also , I expect better from someone with your patriotic background--was American law based on the Koran? Do you deny it was based on the bible?

As to Jefferson's letter--is it part of the Constitution?? The wall which you address was specifically written to protect the people from the state. The Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" The Gideons are exercising their rights. The fact that schools are public, government institutions have been judged by some to be interfering with the First by allowing prayers in classrooms, at ball games etc. I suggest those interpretations are akin to the 14th, where only a Progressive mind could see that the intent was to grant proper civil rights to our black citizens. It is causing harm to Americans.

As to Lerner and the Fifth--I see no comparison whatsoever with defense of the Second. In one they are trying to take away a right of the people, in Lerner's case, no one is trying to take that away from her. She is fully justified in taking the 5th , but throughout history, it has been viewed, rightfully or wrongly as a ploy to avoid conviction.

I agree with you on the Brooks issue and I believe Roy Barnes to be an honorable man.

Finally, I do not, as a rule read your columns. I have a difficult time understanding how a man of your background and experience in support of our country, serving us both in the military and in government service could wind up an ally of Foley and liberal thinking.

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