Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Freedom of Choice

I want to take a little time out to talk about what is somewhat a touchy subject in America. I want to discuss the first amendment. Now I don't want to have a debate about whether or not we should have the freedom of speech or not, I believe that the vast majority of us agree that freedom of speech is a great thing. Instead, I want to address how the first amendment makes some people act like A**holes. Yeah I said it, A**holes! (Well I guess that I technically didn't say it, but you catch my drift).

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the United States Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the United States Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion" (the Establishment Clause) or that prohibit the free exercise of religion (the Free Exercise Clause), laws that infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to peaceably assemble, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (From Wikipedia).

I was in the San Francisco Bay area last week, and I awoke to a story on the morning news that made me believe that I just had to still be asleep. I mean there's no possible way that this could ever happen. I will give you both the way that I heard the story, and then the actual story: The way I heard it, "Protesters have been cut off from both food and water. The protesters have been trying to prevent the University of California-Berkeley from tearing down trees in front of Memorial Stadium. A project that would enable the University to build an athletic center." My immediate reaction was, these people are crazy. Why the hell would they protest the city rebuilding the stadium? Well if I thought that was bad, the WHOLE story is so much worse.

Four jackasses climbed into a tree to protest the University tearing down forty-two trees surrounding Memorial stadium. And not only that, but the University allowed them to post up for 21 months! In those 21 months, construction was at a halt. The University spent an approximate twenty million dollars in legal fees, construction delays, and a hired police presence. And why? Because 4 idiots did not want trees torn down. I don't know about you, but I'm not wasting twenty million dollars to save some damn trees!

One thing that you need to understand about me is that I have very little tolerance for nonsense. And my solution may sound harsh, but it would have resolved this situation on day one. I would have made an announcement similar to this. "We are giving you twenty minutes to descend from that tree. If you don't, we are cutting it down"! Unless the protesters are the descendants of Tarzan, they would've had their asses on the ground in less than five minutes. See a part of the problem with this country is that we've gone soft like Twinkie filling. Back in the day, you couldn't act a fool like this, and not plan on suffering the repercussions of your actions. However in the 21st century America, there's plenty of opportunity to act a fool, and then claim some kind of victim status. In this situation, the only people who were victimized were the University, and the citizens of the state of California who paid the twenty million dollar tab.

In 2003, Rachel Corrie, a peace activist from Olympia, Washington, was protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes by the Isreali government. Isreali Army bulldozers were brought in to handle the demolition. Rachel's brilliant idea to stop the demolition was to stand in the direct path of the bulldozer. Well unlike in America, the bulldozer did its job. Unfortunately in the process, Rachel was hit by the bulldozer. She later died from her injuries. Now as unfortunate as it is that Rachel lost her life, to me this is just an example of how some Americans don't understand that you can't just protest in any fashion that you choose. There can be serious consequences to your actions.

Now there is a story that captivated the country back in 1994. An American teen was caught spray painting and throwing eggs at cars. The crime was committed by then 18 year old Michael Faye of St. Louis, Missouri. I'm sure you're probably thinking that little Michael was sentenced to community service where he had to wear an orange jump suit and pick up trash on the freeway. Well the missing piece of information is that little Michael committed his crime in Singapore. And what did he get sentenced to? (Come on, you remember the story). They beat his ass with a cane! (Now you remember it right)?

Little Michael was sentenced to six strokes with a ratan. The ratan is an 8 foot long stick of bamboo. It is described to be absolute torture to any individual subjected to any amount of lashes from it. Once sentenced, there was a public outcry in America that the punishment was entirely too harsh. President Bill Clinton even appealed to Singapore's government on little Michael's behalf. Singapore responded in kind and lowered the amount of strokes that Michael would receive from six to four, as a sign of respsect to Bill. (Way to stand up Singapore, I like the guts).

Well to conclude the story, let's just say that Singapore beat that ass! LMAO. Little Michael moved back to the United States, where he would go on to have other brushes with the law. I guess he needed to be somewhere were the punishments were less severe.

I say tell this story to further illustrate that we as a nation need to start standing up and saying that we aren't gonna take this crap. Too often, we are punished/victimized by individuals who are doing nothing more than acting a damn fool. Freedom of speech is not a license to do as you will. I respect the right to assemble in public, and yes, to even shout, hold signs, and any other creative ways that you can think of to get your point across. But when you start laying down in the street, climbing and sitting in trees, you've gone entirely too far. And if the consequence to you doing things such as that is to get run over by a bulldozer, or falling yo ass out of a tree, hey then so be it. As my father used to say, "assumption of risk." And to the Federal Government, Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but an ass whoopin ain't never hurt nobody. Maybe we need to follow Singapore's lead. Just ask little Michael.


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