How many rights do you have? You should check, because it might not be as many as you think. Some people are not concerned that the police can execute a search warrant without knocking, set up roadblocks, and interrogate innocent citizens. Nor are they concerned when a drug dealer receives a life sentence for selling a quarter gram of cocaine for $20 (Bailey). When you combine current events with the widespread need of people to fit into society, we should all be concerned. The Bill of Rights, when written, established and protected our personal freedoms from government interference.
For centuries, governments have tried to regulate information thought to be inappropriate or offensive. Todays technology has given the government an excuse to interfere with free speech. By claiming that radio frequencies are a limited resource, the government tells broadcasters what to say and what not to say. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) carefully monitors news, public, and local programming for what they consider obscenity (Hyland).
As in speech, technology has provided another excuse for government intrusion in the press. The Secret Service can confiscate computers, printers, hard disks, and mail from electronic services they do not consider a press. Entire stores of books and videotapes are seized because of sexually explicit material. The Bill of Rights and the First Amendment exists to protect speech and press that is unpopular. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Steele). If unpopular ideas did not exist, we would not need the First Amendment.
The right to bear arms is so commonly challenged that it has its own name: gun control. Banning weapons not for legitimate sporting purposes is a misuse of the right to bear arms amendment. If the need for defense arises, it will not be herds of deer that threaten our security, but humans (Steele). It is an unfortunate fact that the guns we need for defense are guns that attack people not animals. The right to be secure in your home goes hand in hand with the right to bear arms. A law that went into effect in 1991 allows the tax assessor to enter your home and list your personal property for tax purposes. Being required to tell the state everything you own and submitting to an invasion by the taxman is not being secure in your home. Maybe that is why the government controls guns.
Out of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, only one is not threatened. No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war (United States). This amendment is fairly safe because of the amount of tax money the government spends to maintain the armed forces.
With this much of the Bill of Rights in question, how can we be sure our rights are safe? Differences in character, appearance, and emotion make us all individuals. Watching and hearing other people form the foundation for our personal beliefs. What we learn from childhood to expect, as an inalienable right, may not be. When the government can take away your choice to smoke, tell you when to wear a seatbelt, or decide what constitutes a religion we should all be concerned! To preserve the Bill of Rights for ourselves, we must defend them for everybody.
Bailey, Thomas A., David M. Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.
Hyland, Paul, Sammells, Neil. Writing and Censorship. London: Routledge; 1992: 1-13; 133-167.
Steele, Shari. Taking a Bite Out of the First Amendment. http://www.eff.org/pub/Cenorship/human_rights_961420.article. 1996.
United States. Annotated Constitution. GPO Gate 20 June 1998
http://www.gpo.ucop.edu/cgibin/gpogate?waisdoc=1&4=waisback.access.gpo.gov;constitution_1996_supplement/TEXT/10982/3=6%2010982%20/disk3/wais/data/constitution_1996_supplement/s96art2.wais; (20 June 1998).