By Lynn Moncus
This week, we have been hearing and reading much about the Constitution and how very fortunate we are to have such a document. Many of us can recall memorizing the “Preamble” and the “Bill of Rights,” plus studying the entire document in our public schools and later in college. We can but trust this still occurs so that our young people know at least that much about our government and also know the Constitution is still in place.
We have but to look at that First Amendment in the “Bill of Rights” to see that it is the one all too many people take advantage of and too often use as an excuse. We read about freedom of speech and freedom of press but ignore the idea that the founding fathers had some notion that those rights would be used responsibly instead of as excuses to say and print anything that comes to mind, no matter what the consequences or relevance.
This woman from Ima ran into that amendment on campus all too often when some professors felt they could say or write anything that came to mind without even being questioned. Fortunately, at that time, we had a number of admirable administrators who would take such people aside and explain a little about the facts of life. After explaining the meaning of speaking and writing responsibly, they would either remove the culprits from the classroom or convince them to be more careful in helping to mold young minds.
Just because we had captive audiences didn’t mean we could fill their heads with misinformation and much propaganda. A modicum of common sense should have let the rabble-rousers know they were out of order, but common sense was usually missing, leading to major and minor upsets.
All too often we see some members of the press getting a little carried away and then hiding behind that amendment. When headlines seem to be more important than the truth, we are in a bit of trouble. Some information simply shouldn’t be made public until it is substantiated or until it won’t pose danger to the populace.
Fortunately, most of our small town papers are far more careful than the big city
publications, and that protects those of us who live in rural areas. Of course, we get to see and hear more than we want to by listening to the radio or watching television. We watch various correspondents grab a nugget of truth and turn it into something larger than the imagination. Obviously, they haven’t thought about responsibility and seem rather proud to hide behind that amendment.
We are most fortunate to have that 219-year-old document and need to pay more attention to it than ever in order to avoid the pitfalls at every turn. We should be most thankful that we had such wise men who could write such a living document and should begin to respect it more each day.
If people would but follow it responsibly, we could begin to understand it and realize that even our freedoms have some limits. When did you last read The Constitution? I just finished browsing through it one more time and had a most pleasant experience.