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Author Topic: Why is it Americans are so stuck on their constitution?
Snaggy

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Icon 5 posted January 08, 2008 13:56      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't quite understand why many people in the USA seem to revere their constitution as the be all and end all of all that is right, for all eternity.

I just watched Ron Paul evoking The Founding Fathers as if they were omnipotent beings.

(Although I do agree, it might have been nice if the current administration had followed the Constitution these past few years. [crazy] )

To myself, it would seem to be a good thing to re-examine the laws that govern you every now and then, and not be afraid to change them when appropriate.... just like criminal laws evolve over time.

anyway, here's a good one... [Big Grin]

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GMx

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Icon 1 posted January 08, 2008 14:23      Profile for GMx     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Big Grin] [thumbsup]

Oh no! You're just baiting the "Libertarian" nutjobs to come out of the woodwork! [Eek!]

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted January 08, 2008 15:07      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think America should stay true to the values of its founding fathers.
Re-introduce slavery, and stop them women voting.

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Sxeptomaniac

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Icon 1 posted January 08, 2008 15:31      Profile for Sxeptomaniac   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Keep in mind that we have amended our constitution multiple times. However, it's designed to be difficult, which I think has been a good thing (as in the case of the attempts at flag burning amendments, which have never even made it halfway through the ratification process).

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted January 08, 2008 16:26      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Snaggy ______________________ Good question, The biggest thing about the Constitution is it, in fact allows all the other laws, Then there is the matter of the Bill of rights, the first Ten amendments to the Constitution.

I guess that the biggest tresspass of the shrub has been his handling of the Fourth & Fifth amandments, people want to be able to not feel spied upon. Don't give me that bull about, "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about." I have nothing to hide so don't waste my tax money spying on me.

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Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


Benjamin Franklin,

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted January 08, 2008 16:54      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I, for one, -love- the idea that our government might be spying on me...

<NSA headquarters>
"Oh God, he's on YouTube again."
*NSFW video plays*
"Jesus Christ! Why do I have to be the one monitoring this guy? You'd think I was caught sleeping with the director's wife or something"
</NSA headquarters>

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tweety
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Icon 1 posted January 08, 2008 19:24      Profile for tweety   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, I think a similar question could be asked of the British. Why do they love their monarchy so much? [Wink]

As for the US Constitution and American's love for it, I'd say it's because it's the first document in history that spelled out such an empowering Republic. Sure, it's not perfect, but, it is flexible in both interpretation and ability to amend.

And, if you haven't noticed, this country does go through periods of radical reflection and re-examination. Unfortunately, sometimes it gets us people like Bush Jr. running the show. Other times it gets us bras being burned, women becoming like men, men becoming women, and the utter inability to say anything without checking one's own internal editor to make sure it withstands the current socially enforced political correctness.

Also, much like our flag, it is a symbol of all that we hold dear. Individual freedom, a say in government, the ability to determine one's own destiny. Now, while much of that might seem like b.s. today, they are still some of the pillars of American world and life views.

The US Constitution is also a bit like the Torah/Bible. There are those who hold to a strict interpretation while others continuously examine and re-evaluate the meaning, intent and purpose.

I don't know if that answers the question. Hopefully, it helps at least give a better frame through which to view America's love for its Constitution.

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted January 08, 2008 21:12      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Why are Canadians so stuck on the Queen? Seriously, you guys were let go a long time ago. You're an independent nation. Give her up already. [Razz]

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
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Snaggy

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Icon 10 posted January 08, 2008 22:44      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Xan, I completely agree... what the heck is that woman doing on so much of our money! [crazy]
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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 02:29      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
Why are Canadians so stuck on the Queen?

Here in oz we had a vote sacking Her Majesty a few years ago, and a majority voted NO.

Just one of the many things about Homo Sapiens I will never understand. [shake head]

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 06:28      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Maybe there'll be a change of heart when you folks have Charles in charge? [Razz]

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darlingangelina
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 06:28      Profile for darlingangelina   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
First Ronald Reagan, then Arnie, Now Hilary Clinton ! WOW!

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 07:43      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
Why are Canadians so stuck on the Queen?

Here in oz we had a vote sacking Her Majesty a few years ago, and a majority voted NO.

Just one of the many things about Homo Sapiens I will never understand. [shake head]

I doubt it was out of any affection for either the UK or the monarchy. They were probably voting against having a president, on the principal of if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Though we don't have a written constitution, we still don't like changes to it either.

I wonder how much of the attachment Americans have for their constitution is sentiment, as opposed to political reality. It helps you tell stories about yourself, that you love collective and individual freedom. How much of this is true is open to dispute of course, the same people that proclaim this rugged frontiersman philosophy of freedom are generally those that venerate the military most, which is of course an institution founded on unquestioning obedience. More fundamentally I have always assumed that one of the anchors of democratic freedom was the rule of law, and that imprisonment without trial, and the use of torture run completely contrary to this.

So I am not sure whether we actually value our constitutions or democracies that much at all. People are very ready to proclaim slogans such as "Give me liberty, or give me death" but in the face of enough scary bedtime stories about this war against terror (how can you have a war against a military tactic?), we are prepared to give up some of our oldest and most basic freedoms. So maybe we would rather be comfortable than free.

On Radio 4 they are reading short selections from Machiavelli's "The Prince" as The Book of the Week at the moment. It is fascinating and deals mainly with exactly this disconnect between the noble language that politicians and ordinary folk alike use when discussing politics, and what they actually want and do.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 08:58      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As a side note to Cally's post, which I won't even try to address:

I'm very please to see that England has stopped this 'war on terror' nonsense.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1660976.ece
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/08/opinion/ednye.php

Now, perhaps Nov '08/Jan '09 will lead to that here?

Edit/P.S. On Fear:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/01/your_brain_on_f.html

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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hal9000
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 09:51      Profile for hal9000   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I am a nut job, will you vote for me....
i think we should shoot all career polititicans, make it a totaly volenteer job, give them Barricks like i had when i was in the Military so they have a place to live. and make the MFers work 5 days a week 9 hours a day.

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Ugh, MightyClub
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 11:02      Profile for Ugh, MightyClub     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree somewhat with Calli's suggestion that much of the devotion to the U.S. constitution is sentimental in nature. That said, I don't think that devotion is misguided. At its root the constitution is a very simple, very powerful document that sets out the physics of our nation, if you will. Yes, the men who created it were flawed and, yes, the world and our view of it has changed since then. That doesn't take away from the overall value of the constitution.

Snaggy, I agree that it's a good idea to review the laws that govern you on occassion. The thing is, those laws are by and large *not* in the constitution itself. The laws must abide by the physics defined in the constitution but it's far easier to change the laws than the physics -- at least in theory.

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Ugh!

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 12:25      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Callipygous:
So I am not sure whether we actually value our constitutions or democracies that much at all. People are very ready to proclaim slogans such as "Give me liberty, or give me death" but in the face of enough scary bedtime stories about this war against terror (how can you have a war against a military tactic?), we are prepared to give up some of our oldest and most basic freedoms.

It's even easier than that.
Back in the 90's, the tory state government here changed the state constitution to take away basic rights that date back to the Magna Carta.

What crisis required such a drastic step.
War?
Civil insurrection?
Plague?

No, they did it to facilitate a car race, and the vast majority of the people didn't give a rats rectum.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 15:19      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Ugh, MightyClub:
That said, I don't think that devotion is misguided. At its root the constitution is a very simple, very powerful document that sets out the physics of our nation, if you will.

A geeky analogy I just thought of:
The Constitution is to government as SMTP (RFC[2]822) is to e-mail. [Big Grin]

Or to channel Jon Postel (RIP):
Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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Neil
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 19:31      Profile for Neil     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A relatively recent newspaper article said that the Queen costs each person in England the order of pennies in upkeep, and the Canadians only have to pay for the royal family when they visit Canada, which is hardly comparable to them living there. So the cost of the monarchy for the Canadians isn't really significant and a bit of a cheap shot.

Also consider this - a land lord rents his house to a family, who end up living there for many generations and the land lord's decendant inherits the house. The occupants say, because we've lived here for generations we're going to stop paying the new land lord and take the house for ourselves. Is that fair, moral and lawful? Something to consider.

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Chesty
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 19:58      Profile for Chesty         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Those old Dudes saw how other governments had screwed it up so bad and wanted to make it easier to keep Government in check.

The main idea that differs from elsewhere is that the government exists at the mercy of the people and not the other way around.

Unfortunately the effers who get elected think more about how they can pad their pockets than how to keep out of peoples lives.

That's why the founding fathers thought it was important to have an armed citizenry - so they could resist tyrants.

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quantumfluff
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 20:17      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
Or to channel Jon Postel (RIP):
Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send. [/QB]

OTOH, Jon was an absolute monarch when it came to the various aspects of the internet that he controlled, so maybe he's not a great example.* A benevolent dictator, but a dictator no less.

* For those of you who don't know, Jon Postel was one of the internet fathers. He WAS the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). When you wanted port 80 for HTTP, he was the person who said that was going to happen or not.

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Red Five
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 20:38      Profile for Red Five     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"I have nothing to hide..." So what? If you have nothing to hide, then you are of no interest to Uncle Sam. They have no time to spy on 300 million Americans, and there's no reason to do so. They are only "spying" on those few people who are suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations. The phone calls being intercepted were between American citizens or residents and known terrorist organizations.

It's in the UK where you find law enforcement wanting to put spy cameras up on every street corner, not in the US. You blokes across the pond should pay more attention to the privacy infringement already occurring in your own country, rather than griping about decreased privacy that isn't even happening in the US. Unless you have called a satellite phone that resides in a back corner of Afghanistan somewhere.

BTW, in case some of you haven't noticed, there's a war on. If you are a combatant taken prisoner by enemy forces, you get no trial. Because you are not a criminal, and there are no criminal charges against you. Being a prisoner of war means that you are not available to return to your side and continue fighting, but you do get to keep your life. Would you rather be dead? Or would you rather be alive but imprisoned, knowing that when the war ends, you'll be released? But your captors aren't just going to release you, knowing that the first thing you're gonna do is return to your fighting buddies and continue to be a thorn in your enemy's side.

I'll say it again, because it bears repeating: In a war, there are no trials. Trials are for criminals. Soldiers imprisoned are not criminals.

On one side of this conflict, you have modern civilization. Religious freedom, freedom of speech and thought, freedom to be a man or a woman in any segment of society, freedom for women to wear what they want and to be seen near a man who isn't family.

On the other side, you have radical Islam. Oppression of all that isn't Muslim, as long as it's convenient, then kill all who don't pay the dhimmi tax. And maybe just kill 'em all anyway, whether they paid or not. Keep the women covered up head to toe. If one is caught within XX feet of a male who isn't family, then gang-rape her, followed by killing her brutally to "maintain the family honor". Even if the male is family, then at least beat the hell out of her because she's a woman. And if she isn't wearing the burqa, or even worse, if she's gone completely Western in her garb, then definitely kill her for the family honor.

We are treating the residents of Gitmo far better than they deserve, and infinitely better than they treat us. We would be well within our rights to actually torture them, subject them to regular beatings and such, but we don't because we are America and we are better than they are.

One thing about the Constitution that many people don't realize: the US Constitution consists of far more than all the various articles and amendments. According to the Constitution, any treaty that the US signs immediately becomes part of the Constitution. That's one reason why we haven't signed onto Kyoto (ignoring the fact that it doesn't actually do anything except penalize the US for being a powerful industrial nation). For other countries, a treaty is merely something that gets signed and stuffed into document storage, to be trotted out later when it's convenient. For the US, any treaty signed becomes the Law of the Land, only without the citizens being part of the process. It's not something we take lightly.

Oh, and Chesty: you got that right, man.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 20:58      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ooooh...bolded text. Wherever have I seen that before?

The NSA is only /listening/ to a select group of phone calls. However, they are asking telcos left and right for calling data. They apply a principle of networking to figure out relationships of callers to callees (sp?/word?). From this, they try to figure out who they might have more of an interest in...and they probably examine all the related people's calling data as well. Happen to be a wrong number on a t'rist's phone bill? You might get all your calls profiled. Are you an 80 year old grandmother who calls a select group of family members? You might get all your calls profiled.

"But I have nothing to hide?"

Well, okay then...I'm glad you like having your civil liberties trounced on.

"But there's a war going on...we have to let our leaders take away some of our privacy."

Let's give this one the bolded text treatment:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 21:17      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Red Five:

We are treating the residents of Gitmo far better than they deserve, and infinitely better than they treat us. We would be well within our rights to actually torture them, subject them to regular beatings and such, but we don't because we are America and we are better than they are.

But they are being tortured, Uncle Sam admits it.
If waterboarding was torture when Japanese soldiers did it to Americans, it's still torture today, no amount of "it depends who does it" doubletalk will change that.

quote:

For other countries, a treaty is merely something that gets signed and stuffed into document storage, to be trotted out later when it's convenient. For the US, any treaty signed becomes the Law of the Land

LOL !

Tell that to the Cherokee, the Apache, the Sioux...

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ScholasticSpastic
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Icon 1 posted January 09, 2008 23:46      Profile for ScholasticSpastic     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Red Five, I earnestly hope that you're not as hateful and shallow as your post makes you seem. Could you define, for the sake of argument, what, exactly, makes it so that babies accidentally born in the US are better than babies accidentally born in the Middle East?

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