The 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 target of the SS
operation was to