Thursday, November 5, 2009

What You Don't Know Will Hurt You

Several years ago, while in law school, I clerked for a law firm whose practice was limited to certain First Amendment issues. Part of my duties involved initial in-depth screening of potential clients. Several months into my tenure there, I called up a gentleman who was seeking our assistance. I started to question him about his situation when he interrupted me, albeit politely.

“Do you know what the First Amendment says?”

“I’ll tell you in a second. Let me get my book.”

“Well son, if you don’t know what the First Amendment says, how effective can you be in defending it?”


I promised him I would memorize it, call him back the next day, and recite it to him. I did.

I don’t remember whether we were able to help him, or even what happened to him, but that conversation has been with me since then. I have never forgotten the text of the First Amendment.

While I’m not saying that we should memorize the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights, we ought to be intimately knowledgeable about what those documents say. Often, we know more about celebrity children than we do about the documents protecting the future for ours.

Because of that, we end up trusting the interpretation of others, without regard to their agenda as they put their spin on our rights. This spin might be relatively harmless when spouted by the local hot air supply at the barbershop, but it takes a more sinister meaning when it’s twisted by those entrusted to protect and enforce those very rights.

We must remain ever vigilant, and not trust our government to be able to effectively police itself. All they need to do is convince us that their way of interpreting our rights is correct. That's real easy if we don't know what those rights are in the first place.

Please visit Jennifer. She does a good job of pointing out what I mean.

h/t In Jennifer’s Head

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thank you for the link. Too often, people let those in power do their thinking for them.