Friday, folks gathered in front of the Great Falls Civic Center to show their solidarity in a Black Lives Matter rally. Good for them.
In the midst of the roiling national turmoil we are all currently experiencing, and in spite of widely divergent views held on a variety of racial and social issues, there is one thing on which we should all find common ground – the right to freely express our opinions and exercise our First Amendment Rights.
And here it is in all of it’s magnificent beauty and simplicity:
“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.”
Of course the word “peaceably” is paramount. The danger of descending into chaos and violence during an assembly for protest is ever present and all too real, as we have all witnessed on our TV screens over the last nine days.
And too often too many folks overlook the meaning and import of the first phrase of the First Amendment, and therefore misinterpret the heart of our Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law…”, which points to the unmistakable intention of the Framers – our Constitution was not written to tell citizens what they are allowed to do, but rather it was written to spell out precisely what our government is NOT ALLOWED TO DO.
So though we may disagree, even about fundamentals, let’s ALL celebrate our precious God given rights to say so freely. Peaceably.