Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A series on the Loss of Rights: Freedom of Speach

The First Amendment states "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."

Now, most Felons lose their rights upon a plea of guilty. But does the freedom of speech fall under that category? I've heard of the loss of the right to bear arms (understandable in most cases), the loss of the right to vote (not sure how that works), and a few others I can't remember at the moment. But, somewhere along the way, some states decided that it was ok to eliminate the right to gather signatures (as in setting up a petition to the Government). And others, the right to gather certain types of criminals (mainly sex offenders) into a group.

The latter two are part of the first amendment. One of our unalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution. And as a part of the freedom of speech amendment comes our substantive rights: freedom of association, freedom to participate, freedom of movement, freedom of privacy, and freedom of choice to name a few.

But most states would have you believe that you are not worthy or allowed to have such rights as those guaranteed by the very Constitution that gives them power over the people. And based on what? Infamous Crime. Infamous Crime is what allows them to take away those rights.

What is Infamous Crime? Infamous Crime is any crime that is punishable by death or imprisonment in a state penal institution, with or without hard labor for more than one year. Catch that? Any crime with a sentence of more that a year. You know those misdemeanors that have a sentence of a year and a day? They can be considered to be "infamous crime" and allow for the removal of your civil rights.

And the very rights that they take away were put there to allow us to redress our sins before the courts. Without the first amendment, we lose the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." We lose the ability to gather about us the qualified amount of signatures it would take to present a new initiative to the legislature. We lose the ability to create change. We fall victim to the fear mongering and hate machines created by the media and the legislative branch of our Government.

Fortunately for some, their state constitution is worded different than most. It allows the felon to gain back their civil rights at the termination of their probation.

For the rest? Goodbye freedom of speech and all that falls under its umbrella.

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