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Apathy, ignorance for First Amendment attack our freedoms

December 31, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

An important anniversary for our nation came and went this weekend, largely without notice.

It is the anniversary of what allows Christians to openly extol the birth of Christ, and Jews to celebrate Hanukkah without fear of being locked up.

It is what enables The Washington Times to be a watchdog on government, exposing the ugly truths about our entrenched bureaucracy.

Dec. 15 marked the 227th anniversary of the ratification of the First Amendment.

Don’t feel too bad for missing it. I almost did too.

Martin Nussbaum and Ian Speir, two brilliant constitutional attorneys, circulated an email about this anniversary for the freedom of speech, religion and the press, and for the right of the people to peaceable protest.

For the masses who did not receive their email, the anniversary went unnoticed. How can it be that our nation celebrates so many other events, yet fails to remember this critically important one?

Celebrating the First Amendment should be a unifying factor for all Americans, regardless of faith, political persuasion, sex, race or socio-economic status: The First Amendment guarantees the liberty for each and every one of us to practice our faith; it protects the voice of the poor, of minorities, of all who feel powerless.

Its ratification marked an important milestone for mankind. As Messrs. Nussbaum and Speir explained: “For the first time in history, a government accommodated religion, protected religious exercise, and forbade both religious establishments and religious tests for public office. The law that grew from the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment is truly the most distinctive feature of the great American experiment. As [James] Madison predicted, it has given a ‘lustre to our country.’”

Perhaps we fail to celebrate this anniversary because “progressives” have increased their attacks on personal freedom so much that our national “lustre” has begun to fade. Or are their attacks possible precisely because we have failed to teach our children that personal freedom is something worth celebrating?

Do we collectively just take our freedoms for granted or worse, actually think it is permissible for men to destroy what God himself created to enable us to thrive?

Our ignorance and apathy have placed the entire “American experiment” in grave jeopardy. An annual national First Amendment celebration could be a critical step in educating and inspiring our citizenry to preserve our nation by protecting our freedom.

One would think a media association would love to sponsor such a project. Sadly, media corporations from Google to Facebook to virtually every news organization increasingly allow only speech that they deem politically correct. In so doing, they fail to see that they simultaneously undermine the rights of a free press.

Messrs. Nussbaum and Speir know the current fragility of the First Amendment because they spend every day defending those whose rights are bludgeoned. In fact, there are so many attacks on the freedoms of religion and speech that hundreds of lawyers, many working pro bono, now fight “24/7/365” to protect personal liberty.

Even a quick look at the websites of some of these legal freedom fighters reveals why it is critical for all citizens to know their constitutional rights. To see the breadth of the war against freedom, check out NussbaumSpeir.com, ADFlegal.org, LibertyCounsel.org, PacificLegal.org, becketlaw.org, aclj.org and FirstLiberty.org.

A special note to “sexual liberation” activists: As you advocate for your ideology, beware that trampling tFFhe freedom of others will end up causing the subjugation you claim to abhor.

Mr. Nussbaum explains how radical activism already is obliterating First Amendment protections for many: “Today, the most powerful political group in the United States may be the sexual rights community consisting of both LGBT and pro-choice activists. What other group can, in a matter of days, end successful careers for incorrect speech; launch boycotts of whole states like Arizona, North Carolina, and Indiana; and require modest cake makers to be re-educated through fines and diversity training?”

America historically has been composed of diverse peoples who understand that freedom is a powerful unifying force, and that when it is denied, division and destruction abound.

Let the promise of the First Amendment inspire you to celebrate and protect your freedom and our nation: “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.”

⦁ Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at rebecca@rebeccahagelin.com.

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