Friday, January 18, 2013

The Blanky Needs a Bath


This morning my daughter asked me what the Third Amendment to the Constitution promised citizens of the United States of America.

I didn't know. Does anyone know?

There appear to be only two Amendments that have any claim to our collective memory.
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1.  Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

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, etc.

2. Right to keep and bear arms.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

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The first Amendment is generally misinterpreted by the Religious Right. They gloss over the part about Congress not making a law respecting the establishment of religion and have instead made it mandatory by word and deed, not by law, that everyone elected to office must believe in Jesus Christ, the bible, heaven and hell and Satan, or they are not qualified to hold any governmental office.

Further, the second part of the first Amendment is equally misinterpreted by these folks, as well as by other creepy tentacles of the Conservative Party. The part about freedom of the press is a part they prefer to ignore unless it's Fox, Clear Channel or divers other outrageously biased sources on whom they rely to bolster their positions, which seldom bear a relationship to truth and/or accuracy.

However, it is the third Amendment that should hold our attention here because it is as obsolete, as many of us believe the second Amendment is. And it alone should make the case for argument that it, and the second Amendment, are anachronisms. It should also suggest that the Constitution - held as a living, breathing and sacred document that can never be tampered with - could use a little modernization to accommodate a reality that the Founding Fathers could never have imagined.

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3. Conditions for quarters of soldiers

No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

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Now tell me that the founders ever imagined what this country would look like and how it would be populated in the 21st Century. Can anyone conceive of a need to quarter soldiers in any house in this country when we have millions and millions of acres of public buildings and millions of acres of military bases and VA Hospitals?

Taking over someone's bungalow, or third floor walk-up, in order to bed down and feed a couple  of enlisted men, or even a gaggle of generals, does not sound like anything anyone would ever contemplate in 2013.  

Yet there it is. Enshrined in our Constitution. along with the Second Amendment

It's obvious to me - and must be to anyone who has a closet full of hoop skirts or wimples or wooden shoes - we could use a little refreshing.

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