You Have the Right To Shut Uppa You Face

You Have the Right To Shut Uppa You Face

Adrienne BoettingerFriday,3 July 2015

Here at TSD, the 239th birthday of this dead sexy country known as the U.S. of A. has got us thinking of what defines us as a nation. No, we’re not talking about our miniscule attention spans or tendencies toward obesity but what seriously makes us who we are as ‘Muricans. The events of the past few weeks in particular have prompted us to lustily gaze upon the badassness that was James Madison. Overlooking his raw, animal magnetism, this pint-sized drink of water and 4th prez was instrumental in enshrining the rights that we are nitpicking over to this very day.

The rights most bandied about on cable news and famously haggled over by the Supreme Court Justices are those dealing with freedoms of religion/assembly/press/speech and the right to bear arms. There’s a bunch of other rights of course but those are the money ones. Now despite the recent horrific slaying of nine peaceful citizens by a racist lunatic who should not have been able to get a gun legally (but did because of a loophole in South Carolina and 39 other states’ gun laws), the Second Amendment isn’t front and center this time. That part has become overshadowed by what some are saying is an expression of the freedom of speech: the right to fly a Confederate flag.

Here is where if you are a fan of the flag you’ll say it should be featured on the grounds every state capitol and license plate in the south and revered as a sign of southern heritage and if you’re an opponent, you’ll say it should be banned and people who fly it should be publicly shamed as racists. We are pleased to tell you that you’re all wrong. First let’s get to the opponents. We may share your sentiment that the flag is a sign of hatred and ugliness dressed up as a symbol of pride. But the hotness, James Madison, and the other established white men who set up the rules of this country of ours had a thing or two to say about regulating people’s thoughts, speech, and means of expression. Namely, that we can’t.

Next, let’s tackle that other group who think you can fly that thing whenever and wherever you want because you are also unbelievably wrong. For a minute, try to acknowledge the history of the flag and what it means to many: it is the banner of an armed insurrection against the government of the United States of America — a revolt that was launched to preserve a way of life made possible by the enslavement of an entire race of people. Okay, we know you probably didn’t even get through that sentence so instead think about this: you can fly that thing at your house, dress your toddlers in onesies with it on the butt or have it tattooed on your damn forehead. You can’t, however, fly it over the property of federal, state or local governments. Your freedom of speech doesn’t extend to you yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie theater, insanely disparaging Mexicans as “rapists” on a network news station, or hanging the confederate flag on public property.

While we’re on the subject, you also have the right to believe whatever hate-filled, superior thoughts you want as part of your religion; you can damn your neighbor to hell for his sexual orientation or teach your children that lesbians are the devil. But if you’re a government employee you don’t have the right to break the law because your religious leader or favorite presidential candidate tells you to. If you don’t like it, get another job. We hear Hobby Lobby is hiring.

The thing people forget about freedom of religion is that the amendment also talks about Congress being prevented from making a “law respecting an establishment of religion.” Some of the Founding Fathers may have come from Christian backgrounds but they didn’t make the Old and New Testaments the law of this land. Your bible can define marriage however it wants to; that doesn’t make it constitutional.

But rather than focusing on what divides us, let’s finally take a moment to consider what unites us. It’s not just that we all love our family and friends, think Chipotle is the nectar of the gods and fear the day when Jon Stewart leaves The Daily Show. It’s that in our heart of hearts we all think we know what’s best, believe that the other side is a pack of asshats, and perceive that we’re the only ones who know the truth about what’s right and wrong. It matters not if we’re black, white, brown, heterosexual, homosexual, atheist, Christian, Muslim, or Trekkie, we all have the right to be annoying as hell. God bless America.

 

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Hat Tips:

Washington PostQuartz, NPR, Image Credit: Flickr



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