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If the First Amendment Had to Be Ratified Today

Tina Dupuy: The First Amendment – arguably the foundation of our democracy – if brought up today would die in committee. Yes, our time is just that stupid.

Republicans will tell you they’re the sole Constitutional purists in the country; they worship the document more/better than you do. But imagine if the First Amendment had to be voted on today. It would need two-thirds majority in both Houses just to be proposed.


Consider it: “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.”

First, it’s way too progressive for today’s rabid rightwing. And if the Republicans saw this Amendment as a win for Obama – it would have to be stopped by any means necessary.

All the President would have to do is say he thinks it’s important for Americans to have freedom of speech, religion, the press and assembly.

Then the Tea nee Republican Party would call them “Obama Freedoms.”

Right-wing blogs next would tap, “What do Hitler, Machiavelli, Darwin, Che Guevara and the New Black Panther Party all have in common? They all love Obama Freedoms.”

“Obama Freedoms will indoctrinate our children to be secular Islamists who want taxpayers to pay for gay marriage abortions at Ground Zero,” Newt Gingrich would say in some Vaseline-lensed ominous music-packed video he’d hawk on his website.

Lawmakers would rush the House floor to accuse freedom of speech as being “bad for business.” Others would call it “disruptive.” Speaker John Boehner, calling himself an originalist, would decry (get it?) any changes whatsoever to the Constitution. “Hell no, you can’t!”

AM talk radio would chime in: “Obama Freedoms will even apply to people here illegally! Drug dealers will be able to protest in your front yard! We’re a nation of laws, not Obama Freedoms!”

Others would use it as an opportunity to rail against the press. Media critic Sarah Palin would take to her Twitter account, “LSMwnt 2Bfree noh8ve Obma& wrk,cost jobs. Hurt 4US kllrep$. SeeFB post.”

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Inadvertently proving themselves, in fact, lame — an entire 24-hour news cycle would be devoted to deciphering her tweet. Then the self-proclaimed modern-day Shakespeare would make up a word just for the occasion: virrification. It’s a cross of verification and vilify and maybe viral, but no one would know for sure. It would just seem to fit perfectly for the issue, and then it would be overused until it lost all irony. would offer to use the new word in a sentence: To kill the bill, use virrification (see: refudiate and squirmish).

Lopsided, meaningless polls will be taken: “Do you think people who just so happen to call themselves journalists should be free to do so?” The results will be split. People will comment, “I don’t know how comfortable I am with people being able to say ANYTHING they want. We’re in three wars!” And, “Free speech will shove pornography down our throats!”

Commercials would be launched, and the amendment would be called a “government take over of religion” by Koch-brother-funded shadow groups. Average-looking character actors would be hired to say how scared they are of Muslims stoning their children in schools.

“You know what Obama Freedoms will do to this country?! Criminalize bacon! What could stop them?”

Fox and Friends would snicker that being able to assemble peacefully should be called “The Gridlock Amendment.” They’d point out if it gets passed, it would cause traffic and clog America’s thoroughfares. Traffic costs jobs and money! It will ruin this country! “People should be working, but instead the government wants to force us to be on the streets with picket signs.”

Democratic lawmakers, trying to sound reasonable instead of merely capitulatory, would say there’s too much in the bill - that these controversial freedoms need to be in separate bills so they can be debated individually. “It’s just not realistic to put all these – what the rightwing are calling ‘Obama Freedoms’ – what I’m calling basic rights – in one Amendment to the Constitution. I’m proposing a series of Amendments which can be voted on individually – that way we can have an opportunity to debate each one.”

tina dupuy

The First Amendment – arguably the foundation of our democracy – if brought up today would die in committee.

Yes, our time is just that stupid.

Tina Dupuy
Taking Eternal Vigilance Too Far