The Declaration of Independence established the core principles of our Nation, the United States of America. Our Constitution with the Amendments provides a rule of laws for an actual government to accomplish those principles. TheBill of Rightsprotects the individual rights of American citizens and was adopted as a single unit on December 15, 1791.
Our basic rights include
Freedom of speech
Freedom of religion
The right to bear arms
In US, the right to freedom of speech and expression is strongly protected by the Constitution. The United States Bill of Rights plays a central role in American law and government and remains a fundamental symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. One of the original fourteen copies of the U.S. Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Though the law in letter and word does guarantee the right of an individual, there are restrictions placed by the amendments to the bill of rights.
The First Amendment provides for freedom of Speech- it is the right of individual Americans to communicate their thoughts of their choosing. Some people quote the freedom to express their views and speech and can end up intentionally or unintentionally hurting a section of society. This poses grave danger to the social balance of our culture and peace. The constitutional amendments do cover a list of categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection at all. Communications with a person in prison, untruths to harm others, use of obscene language to hurt other’s sentiment…etc. are examples of the said categories. These should be punishable by law. The benefits of the freedom of speech would be:
Expressing the right of opinion: – People can express their thoughts without the fear of getting punished
Sharing the responsibility: Freedom of speech comes with responsibility. The one expressing the views should take the responsibility of the views expressed.
Developing new ideas: – the environment created in voicing out thought and opinions would help the government know what the people wants are. They could gather the data required for new ideas that could help the growth of the country.
The disadvantages would be:
Hurting others: – Not everyone would have the same opinion. Some people often misuse their freedom to hurt others intentionally or unintentionally. E.g.: – Political Differences
It is a seed to violence: – Angry words and disagreement often leads to violence in the heat of the moment. People get hurt and scarred for life.
A source of wrong influence: – People misuse their freedom of speech by manipulating their words to make them look good.
Unfortunately, law does not take unintentional hurt into account so if the law had to rewritten or amended in the bills to right about the freedom of speech, provided that human emotion and context of the speech is taken into consideration. Anger is a strong human emotion and it does cause people to say a lot of things that they do not intend to in the heat of the moment. Thus, the law should consider that a person can err and later regret that fact. It would be up to the courts to decide whether that person does regret using such derogatory words or if he is putting up an act to escape punishment.
The first and the fourteenth Amendment protects the freedom of religion. It gives the citizens the rights to worship freely and publicly. The government cannot make any laws regarding an establishment of religion or prohibiting it to exercise the religion. The benefits of this amendment would be that:
Ability to find one’s own meaning of life without any hindrance or inabilities thereof.
Equal opportunity to follow one’s spiritual journey if there is an unbiased atmosphere without any religious coloring from the Government.
Ensures the survival and flourishing of different and varied religious practices.
The disadvantages would be that
Overbear others with one’s freedom of religion that can tantamount to intruding into other’s private space. For e.g., Post religious symbols, like the Ten Commandments, in buildings and on lands owned by the government or to promote religious instruction and prayer in public schools.
Can lead to discrimination towards other religions. For e.g., Allow businesspeople to refuse service to LGBT groups.
Can be used to justify wrong-doing. For e.g., if an individual wants to perform an immoral act, they can simply change their religion to one that might condone their actions. The law could be amended as the freedom of religion if this freedom does not encroach on a third person’s personal space or stops where human or animal suffering begins. Americans are not always free to act on their beliefs if its costing the lives of the other. An example being a court ordered medical-care for the gravely ill children whose parents have denied them treatment based on religion.
The second amendment to the constitution is the right to bear arms. Originally this amendment was to prevent the federal government from abolishing state militias such as National Guard units, but there is a disagreement whether the amendment give individual the rights to use their weapons outside their military use. The benefits of this amendment are as follows:
Maintaining Law and Order
Creating a sense of security and safety knowing that there is a weapon that could be used if under attack from criminals.
The disadvantages of this amendment would be as follows:
Misuse of Firearms by the Anti-social elements
Possibility of Arms coming in possession of children, or ones who are ignorant.
The Courts did not list all the allowable restrictions, leaving the issue to be decided in the future cases or the government could rewrite the Amendment stating that A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed as long as the custody of the same is contingent to mature use and suitable certification thereof. In a time earlier when there was scarcity of humans available to police and join in the sheriff’s department, then there might have been the case for allowing common people to keep and use arms. However, with growth in population and enough policing forces, the need for common man to keep and use arms has come down significantly.
We the People: – An Introduction to American Government 12 th Edition