Thursday, September 18, 2008

From ayx

There's a certain unadulterated majesty about the document known as the Bill of Rights.

There's a certain beauty about the whole concept of it all, a certain greatness that reasserts itself even when reassertion isn't necessary. There's a certain splendor about rights, about having choices, freedoms, fairness or as close as one can come to having those wondrous things.

And what if some of it was stripped away? Gone, gone, gone like the winds that pass us by, like the seconds that tick by only to never return? But no, not just some. What if we were faced with a most complicated choice? What if we had to choose the five freedoms we cherish most to keep in the Bill of Rights and throw away the rest? It is a complicated choice indeed, but not an impossible one.

In my personal opinion, I think that, if only five rights could remain on the Bill, one of said rights should be the first: "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." [1] In other words, freedom of speech and the freedom to worship whatever religion or lack thereof one wishes to worship. We humans are naturally expressive creatures. We often use whatever means necessary to express ourselves, whether it's body language or verbal communication or even sign language. Not only does it seem unfair to suppress this innate desire for expression, but it also seems foolish to do so. Additionally, in the past, man has faced many conflicts that revolved around religion. Take, for instance, those dark times during which people were harshly persecuted for practicing a religion other than the commonly accepted one; this kind of persecution still occurs today.

This next idea, to me, is a bit of a no-brainer. The next right that should be kept is the ninth: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." [2] Many, many things remain unmentioned. Even though said "things" are indeed unmentioned, citizens still have more rights certain rights simply aren't listed.

Another right should be the eighth: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." [3] I feel that it is unreasonable for individuals to receive unjust punishments that do not match the severity (or lack thereof) of their crime. If the crime is not too serious, one should not receive, for instance, a lifetime in jailor, worse, the death penalty; it does not seem reasonable. Individuals shouldn't be given immense fines or have immense bails, either, particularly when their crime isn't anything truly significant.

Next should be the fifth: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." [4] One should not be tried for any serious crime without a grand jury, and, if declared innocent, the government should not try any certain person again for the same crime with another jury.

Last, although not least, should be the sixth: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense." [5] The accused should have the right to a swift trial; they should not be forced to stay in jail for years while they wait to have a child, particularly if they are innocent. The jury should not be biased, namely because that would be immensely unfair to the accused, and the accused should have a right to a public trial, which is, in most cases, more fair.

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