My Bill of Rights

Maybe you’re like me, tired of a government that does not seem to respect one of the founding documents of our nation, namely the Bill of Rights. Maybe you’re tired of Christian fundamentalists who do not see the placement of monuments containing the Ten Commandments on government property as a government endorsement of a specific religious tradition (Judeo-Christian) and consequently as a violation of the First Amendment. Maybe you wonder why there are so many willing to place religious monuments on government land and why you so seldom see the document responsible for the religious freedom that allows these fundamentalists to proselytize and try to get these monuments placed.

Someone is doing something about it.

Comedian and juggler Chris Bliss has started a project, MyBillof Rights.org to do something about this. Its goal:

Our mission is to promote awareness and respect for the Bill of Rights as the foundation of our individual freedoms, our laws, and the American system of justice, through the design and crafting of Bill of Rights displays to be placed on public lands throughout America, beginning with the capitol grounds of all 50 state legislatures.

As Mr. Bliss states in a letter posted to the website:

That’s why, rather than add to the heat over controversies like the placement of Ten Commandments displays in and around America’s legislatures and halls of justice, MyBillofRights.org seeks instead to throw light on these uniquely American laws that have contributed far more to the greatness of our nation and the hope it has offered to freedom-loving people everywhere, and that too many of us have taken for granted for too long.

MyBillofRights.org does not begrudge or oppose any individual American’s religious beliefs. Our sole purpose is to remind all Americans of that brilliant, shining and truly revolutionary document, the Bill of Rights, which has for 200 years been the lifeblood of our freedoms.

Of course, I wouldn’t stop there. The Bill of Rights should be displayed prominently in every courthouse, state capitol, and city hall. It is the very foundation of the freedoms that come under attack with depressing regularity. The present administration may be worse than most when it comes to undermining the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, but no administration in my lifetime has been blameless. Whenever Bush supporters express a willingness to allow the Bush administration more leeway in terms of domestic spying or the power to detain citizens as “enemy combatants,” I always remind them that Bush won’t be in office forever and ask: What if our next President is Hillary Clinton (a truly frightening thought)? They may trust President Bush to do the right thing with such powers, but would they trust a second President Clinton?

Such powers, once ceded, are hard to take away. Similarly, our rights, once given away by the people (or allowed to be taken), are hard to take back. The Bill of Rights is there to protect our freedoms no matter who is in power. That’s why our freedoms as enumerated in the Bill of Rights must be protected. The sad thing is, most Americans don’t even know most of the Bill of Rights. Projects like this to raise the awareness of the Bill of Rights are one small way to remind people of the importance of this document and what it protects.