It's Constitution Day; lets educate our youth about the First Amendment


On September 17, 1787, exactly 221 years before this date, our Founding Fathers gathered at the Philadelphia Convention and signed their names on a freshly drafted U.S. Constitution, which was the first step in forming a more perfect union.

They had just spent several hectic months drafting the Constitution with delegates from large states arguing with delegates from small states, and delegates from all states feeling suspicious, shortchanged and unsure about the direction it was taking, and some delegates even leaving the convention in exasperation.

Even Ben Franklin was unhappy with the final draft of the Constitution, according to a speech he gave before the remaining 39 of the original 55 delegates signed the document.

“I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them.”

After ratification, the U.S. Constitution became law on March 4, 1789, marking a new era in American government. It may not have been perfect but it did allow for future amendments, which is as perfect as it could be.

And being that the Founding Fathers were perfectionists seeking to form a more perfect union, it did not take long to introduce a set of Constitutional Amendments called the Bill of Rights, which still serve as the backbone of this democracy.

The Bill of Rights protects freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition.

It also prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and compelled self-incrimination.

The Bill of Rights also prohibits Congress from making any law respecting establishment of religion and prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

In federal criminal cases, it requires indictment by grand jury for any capital or “infamous crime”, guarantees a speedy public trial with an impartial jury composed of members of the state or judicial district in which the crime occurred, and prohibits double jeopardy.

The Bill of Rights is the most sacred document in the history of our nation, which is why I’ve been doing all I can to prove my innocence since my arrest.

But this blog, this battle, this obsession is not just about me.

This is about all the other photographers and videographers and journalists I’ve been writing about for more than a year; the ones who’ve been harassed and detained and arrested and assaulted for doing something that is protected by the Bill of Rights. And also the thousands of photographers I haven’t written about, whether they’ve been harassed or not.

This is about all the bloggers who have criticized and supported and insulted and defended me since my arrest last year. And also the thousands of bloggers who don’t even care or know I’m alive, and especially those bloggers who speak their minds about politics without fear of getting arrested as well as those bloggers who chose to ignore our country’s political developments.

This is about all of us, bloggers and non-bloggers alike, including republicans, democrats, natives, immigrants and criminals (and yes, even terrorists). As long as you’re on U.S. soil, you’re protected by the Bill of Rights.

This is about our country, which is not perfect because nothing ever is, but perfect enough where we can speak our mind and take our photos and do what we need to make this an even more perfect union.

Constitution Day is a federal holiday enacted in 2004 where federally funded schools are required to teach students about the history of the U.S. Constitution. Click here if you would like to learn more about teaching the First Amendment to our youth.


Citizen Journalism