Bill of Rights


How many rights do you have? You should check, because it
might not be as many today as it was a few years ago, or even a
few months ago. Some people I talk to are not concerned that
police will execute a search warrant without knocking or that
they set up roadblocks and stop and interrogate innocent
citizens. They do not regard these as great infringements on
their rights. But when you put current events together, there is
information that may be surprising to people who have not yet
been concerned: The amount of the Bill of Rights that is under
attack is alarming.

Let\'s take a look at the Bill of Rights and see which
aspects are being pushed on or threatened. The point here is not
the degree of each attack or its rightness or wrongness, but the
sheer number of rights that are under attack.

Amendment I

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; or the right of the
people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for
a redress of grievances.

ESTABLISHING RELIGION: While campaigning for his first term,
George Bush said "I don\'t know that atheists should be considered
as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots." Bush has
not retracted, commented on, or clarified this statement, in
spite of requests to do so. According to Bush, this is one nation
under God. And apparently if you are not within Bush\'s religious
beliefs, you are not a citizen. Federal, state, and local
governments also promote a particular religion (or, occasionally,
religions) by spending public money on religious displays.

FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION: Robert Newmeyer and Glenn Braunstein
were jailed in 1988 for refusing to stand in respect for a judge.
Braunstein says the tradition of rising in court started decades
ago when judges entered carrying Bibles. Since judges no longer
carry Bibles, Braunstein says there is no reason to stand -- and
his Bible tells him to honor no other God. For this religious
practice, Newmeyer and Braunstein were jailed and are now suing.

FREE SPEECH: We find that technology has given the government an
excuse to interfere with free speech. Claiming that radio
frequencies are a limited resource, the government tells
broadcasters what to say (such as news and public and local
service programming) and what not to say (obscenity, as defined
by the Federal Communications Commission [FCC]). The FCC is
investigating Boston PBS station WGBH-TV for broadcasting
photographs from the Mapplethorpe exhibit.

FREE SPEECH: There are also laws to limit political statements
and contributions to political activities. In 1985, the Michigan
Chamber of Commerce wanted to take out an advertisement
supporting a candidate in the state house of representatives. But
a 1976 Michigan law prohibits a corporation from using its
general treasury funds to make independent expenditures in a
political campaign. In March, the Supreme Court upheld that
law. According to dissenting Justice Kennedy, it is now a felony
in Michigan for the Sierra Club, the American Civil Liberties
Union, or the Chamber of Commerce to advise the public how a
candidate voted on issues of urgent concern to their members.

FREE PRESS: As in speech, technology has provided another excuse
for government intrusion in the press. If you distribute a
magazine electronically and do not print copies, the government
doesn\'t consider you a press and does not give you the same
protections courts have extended to printed news. The equipment
used to publish Phrack, a worldwide electronic magazine about
phones and hacking, was confiscated after publishing a document
copied from a Bell South computer entitled "A Bell South Standard
Practice (BSP) 660-225-104SV Control Office Administration of
Enhanced 911 Services for Special Services and Major Account
Centers, March, 1988." All of the information in this
document was publicly available from Bell South in other
documents. The government has not alleged that the publisher of
Phrack, Craig Neidorf, was involved with or participated in the
copying of the document. Also, the person who copied this
document from telephone company computers placed a copy on a
bulletin board run by Rich Andrews. Andrews forwarded a copy to
AT&T officials and cooperated with authorities fully. In return,
the Secret Service (SS) confiscated Andrews\' computer along with
all the mail and data that were on it. Andrews was not charged
with any crime.

FREE PRESS: In another incident that would be comical if it were
not true, on March 1 the SS ransacked the offices of Steve
Jackson Games (SJG); irreparably damaged property; and
confiscated three computers, two laser printers, several hard
disks, and many boxes of paper and floppy disks. The