Monday, May 11, 2009

A little thing called 14th Amendment

I would like to purpose a little history lesson here on the law. iIt has been a while for many of as far as school is concerned. We are so focused on the freedom to speak that we forget other things along the way. So here is yet another tiny morsel or our great country.

Now this may not sound practical here but this one can also be used. For either side of this issue. Here is where we get into due process, equal rights, etc. Yes, it speaks primarily of Civil War issues and added after the north won, but many of it's principals can be applied to the library issue as well. Both sides are to have the right to due processTcomplaintants are trying to menuvure through that now. The debate is did they or do they need to re - file for clarification purposes? All I know is what the law entitles both side to.

The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was one of the amendments enacted after the Civil War. This amendment was one of the Reconstruction Amendments, along with the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. It was adopted on July 9, 1868.
The amendment provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) which had excluded slaves and their descendants from possessing Constitutional rights. The amendment requires states to provide equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions and was used in the mid-20th century to dismantle racial segregation in the United States, as in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Its Due Process Clause has been used to apply most of the Bill of Rights to the states. This clause has also been used to create: (1) substantive due process rights, such as parental and marriage rights; and (2) procedural due process rights requiring that certain steps, such as a hearing, be followed before a person's property interest can be taken away. The amendment also includes a number of clauses dealing with former slaves and Confederate states, but these clauses are either little-used or have been supplanted by subsequent changes in the law.

Just one First Amendment example

A Book Named "John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" v. Attorney General of Massachusetts
No. 368 Argued: December 7-8, 1965 --- Decided: March 21, 1966
Appellee, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, brought this civil equity action for an adjudication of obscenity of Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill), and appellant publisher intervened. Following a hearing, including expert testimony and other evidence, assessing the book's character but not the mode of distribution, the trial court decreed the book obscene and not entitled to the protection of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that a patently offensive book which appeals to prurient interest need not be unqualifiedly worthless before it can be deemed obscene.
Held: The judgment is reversed. Pp. 415-433.
1. Under the test in Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, as elaborated in subsequent cases, each of three elements must independently be satisfied before a book can be held obscene: (a) the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest in sex; (b) the material is patently offensive because it affronts contemporary community standards relating to the description or representation of sexual matters, and (c) the material is utterly without redeeming social value. P. 418.
2. Since a book cannot be proscribed as obscene unless found to be utterly without redeeming social value, the Supreme Judicial Court erroneously interpreted the federal constitutional standard. Pp. 419-420.
3. On the premise, not assessed here, that it has the requisite prurient appeal, is patently offensive, and has only a modicum of social importance, evidence of commercial exploitation of the book for the sake of prurient appeal to the exclusion of all other values [p414] might in different proceeding justify the conclusion that the publication and distribution of Memoirs was not constitutionally protected. Ginzburg v. United States, post, p. 463. Pp. 420-421.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK and MR. JUSTICE STEWART concur in the reversal for the reasons given in their respective dissenting opinions in Ginzburg v. United States, post, p. 476 and p. 497 and Mishkin v. New York, post, p. 515 and p. 518. P. 421.
MR JUSTICE DOUGLAS concluded that:
1. Since the First Amendment forbids censorship of expression of ideas not linked with illegal action, Fanny Hill cannot be proscribed. Pp. 426; 427-433.
2. Even under the prevailing view of the Roth test the book cannot be held to be obscene in view of substantial evidence showing that it has literary, historical, and social importance. P. 426.
3. Since there is no power under the First Amendment to control mere expression, the manner in which a book that concededly has social worth is advertised and sold is irrelevant. P. 427.
4. There is no basis in history for the view expressed in Roth that "obscene" speech is "outside" the protection of the First Amendment. Pp. 428-431.
5. No interest of society justifies overriding the guarantees of free speech and press and establishing a regime of censorship. Pp. 431-433.

Law and the Library A Christians perspective

Hang on this is a long one.
OK, it's my turn on my blog to speak some thoughts regarding some issues going on here in my small middle American town. We have not been under a negative spot light for anything until now. Yes, we are a suburb of Milwaukee that has in the past hit a great deal of negative number ones. For instance in the mid to late eighties I think I remember hearing that Milwaukee was number one for the national teenage pregnancy rate. So maybe we were in the shadow of that for a bit.

However, now in the 21st. century my little town is embattled in a constitutional tug if war. So what is the amendment being challenged? What else free speech. Yes, I know that we hear that a lot. However, this is one is really an all or nothing.

There is a local couple that filed a complaint against our little local public library. Stating that they have pornography on the shelves. What they are pointing to are books in the young adult section, on a total different level of the building also where the adult section is and a level away from the children's books. These are books written towards the LGBT youth. In case you do not know what that is it's a label and classification for youth that proclaim they are gay.

OK, now let me say I have said from the beginning that I do not agree with the mentality or behavior of those who engage in the boundaries of the homosexual lifestyle.

I wrote a letter to the editor of the paper (which I will put below this post.) In a nut shell I voiced my opinion that the action this couple took is something I do not agree with. I wrote in support of our library. It is there for everyone not only for those who espouse to be christian. I say this simply because after my letter ran I began to receive horrible phone calls at home. Attacking me as a Christian, threatening myself and my 78 year old mother. Calling me horrible names and telling me I am going to hell. This was all done under the banner that the callers were Christians. I had to turn ringers off of phones so she would not to hear many of the things that I heard.

So now there are two factions in our city. The couple that filed the complaint and her group, and the other side fighting for free speech. Here in lays the entire debate. I will say I have followed blogs and comments on both sides. The complainants were loud enough that our city counsel (our government) did not re-seat 4 members of the library board that were up for reconsideration for another term. They are nominated by the mayor. The counsel spoke out and said no to these 4. Stating their own opinions about the issue and not knowing all the facts of positions of those in the jurisdictions they represent. My opinion there. They said they are upset that the library board has stalled and drug this issue out as long as they have. The history and time line of the complaint speaks for itself.

Well OK now let me say there is a process that all complaints that get filed with the library must go through. It's a 3 step process. Meetings with the library director and I can't remember who else, and the 3rd step is taking it to the board which in turn is or can be a public forum. We got to the 3rd stage and the board meeting. It was so well attended that the fire marshal had to cancel the meeting because the room was over capacity and in violation of the fire code. Mind you this was after the meeting had been moved twice to larger venues.

The complainants since then have continued to be very vocal. They may not even realize that they have changed their position and argument at least in public several times. First remove the books completely from the shelves and building. To no, lets add books to balance out the gay issue, (that I did agree with adding books not taking away) and then after several more turns to now they want the library to change it's policy and to move them to adult section, and create a labeling system where minors cannot check them out without parental approval. Even though the National Library Association has already cleared these for the young adult section.

Now, let me say I have not changed my position. However, what I will say is there have been disappointing moments in this battle on both sides. There have been so many personal attacks on the both side of the aisle. I too have even lobbed a few in the beginning out of sheer anger, but offer that as no excuse. For that I do apologize. However, since that time I have come to realize that there is no need for personal attacks against the opposition when one has the precedent of a very thoroughly challenged law on their side.

While this is not a popular stance from the Christian perspective if one stands back and looks at the bigger picture they will understand that is the same argument that protects them as well.

In case you don't know the First Amendment of The United States guarantees free speech. Now this can get touchy but follow me through if you will. I am not fighting for or against the gay issue. I have put that to rest. Everyone knows where I stand on that one that is clear. I stand on my countries promise. If these books are moved, removed, or censored via labeling or regulating via parental consent than there will need to be people hired to go through every book on the shelves and red line anything that can be objectionable to anyone. Who will that be? Who will decide what is cleared or not? Will it be a Christian and an atheist? You get the point there. Every single book in that building someone can find something objectionable in them. So that is not logical.

Also, if these books are reclassified and the complainants are successful then what will be next? Will the people that oppose Christianity (remember the guy who went public filing a civil case with the supreme court stating he is an atheist and does not want his daughter to be forced to recite the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of her school day because it says under God?) Do you see there this is going now? If someone came in and filed a complaint that the Bible offends them, books regarding all faiths are offensive and wanted them removed. Even is they used the separation of church and state argument if the current complainants succeed there would be no legal grounds to keep the Bible and other books there. They would use this circumstance against us and win. At that point what books do we have left? You know that someone would end up testing the precedent this would set. That can't happen.

If people took a step back and looked into the future they would see that legally there is no grounds for this. Morally OK there may be a point but who is he final judge on that? God - CORRECT! not man! These books are not pornography. They are novels written for youth.

I will say one of my issues besides the legality of this is those that say this is not a gay issue. Unfortunately that is exactly what some people on both sides have made it to be. Not to mention what is the "christian" example being set for the youth to make church welcoming to them so they are given the opportunity to re - examine their choices if they want? Why are people not taking into consideration we are talking about teenagers whose frontal lobe of the brain has not reach full development and thus they have no concept of long term consequence of their immediate behavior? If you doubt that research it. It is fact. As teens all they know is they want it and want it now. Think about what you thought you believed as a teen? Have you ever done something stupid in your youth that you look back on now and wonder what you were thinking? Lord knows I have. Too many to count, I gave up that venture.

Not to mention many people scream that they want the government to stop telling them how to raise their own children. Yet, these are the same faction that are now asking the government to help "protect" all children. One voice or opinion should not have the authority to tell others how to raise their children. Or what morals or values they should install in them. That is nobodies place but the parents of said child, children.

At what point do we look at the parents and say we understand with the economy both parents must work but you choose to be parents. You made that decision. You have a responsibility to them to teach them according to your own values and beliefs in God, Allah, Buddha, whatever. I choose Christ. You have to know that when it comes time to turn your baby out into the world to begin their own lives independent of the parents you know you have done the very best you could and now they need to stand in the world on their own. We throw our kids out into the world some for the first time when they go to college and we hope and pray we have done our jobs. Parents no matter how many times you teen tunes you out, ignores what you say, your words are still going into their minds. They really do register them and you really are your child's best compass into adulthood. Peers are important but studies have shown that when it comes to many of the big choices in life children pull from their experiences and what they have been taught by parents or other strong authority figures in their lives. It's true. Trust your kids, believe in them, have faith in them and yourselves. Yes, children falter and make poor choices from time to time, but they will learn. You will still be there to help them and clarify things for them as they learn to navigate things for themselves. It will be the voice of the parents that will whisper ever so softly in their ear "No, don't do that." or whatever.

I also wonder at what point is far enough for someone to yell stop, think about what you are asking for. If the constitution protects the freedom of speech within the parameters of law, (you can't yell fire in a crowded theater, or threaten any ones life to name a few) than it is there for EVERYONE! It is at that point where the individual has to make a choice to read those books or not. I choose not to. That is part of God's plan by not making us robots that automatically follow Him. We have to make that choice on our own, and teach our biggest commodities for the future, the children, the same.

If these complainants succeed we as Christians will also loose our right to freedom of expression. So now it is time to take a stand. I stand on the law of the land and God's word. I choose not to read material that would not please the one who died for me. Educate educate educate your children. Trust your children and have faith in them to make the decisions in their lives that would also please Him if that if your values. Know that the First Amendment is not a simple excuse for smut. Think of it as an avenue that will allow future generations to go to a library and look at a Bible, research their faith, look at a concordance, read books about their faith. It is there to protect our lifestyle and beliefs as well.

Don't attack the people you disagree with look at the issue and choose a position. We are not living in the 50's anymore. Kids have access to all kinds of things we need to talk more to our children than ever before. It really is quality over quantity.

The following is simply a very small example of cases that has been fought some in lower courts most in at least a state supreme court. All have challenged some aspect of the Constitution and First Amendment and lost. Miller v California or griswald v connetticut or sund v wichita falls tx. Or reno v united states, Roth V United States to name a few.
Ok, so now I will display my original letter to the paper that got me into this issue. You will also see some posts after this with other information. One an actual first amendment case, the next on a little didy called the 14th amendment that also comes into play here.
I thank you if you actually read this in it's entirity. Please excuse grammatics and posible spelling errors I am very tired.

Letter to paper:
I have a few points I would like to make regarding the library controversy.
First it is a public library and not a private one. Therefore they are mandated to not discriminate on any level against anyone. Just ask the school board who included a new harassment policy called "protected class."
Second, I may not agree with the gay and lesbian lifestyle however, I will not stand in judgment of those who either question the possibly or live in it. It is their choice to make not mine. Would you rather have your children be alive and trying to find a way through their life as every other teen must do and be a positive contributing member of society or dead and not have the choice? I say this simply because if you look at the many Hollywood A listers who have "come out of the proverbial closet" they have spoken about the thousands and thousands of letters they received from young people saying they were ready to end their life because they could not face the persecution of family, friends or their churches about their decision, but because this A lister came out they feel that they can now too. Strength can be contagious like many other things. I would rather have a child or teen live then kill themselves out of fear of what others may think or do.
My last point is the names the library is in memory of as well as The Cancer Care Center Alyce and Elmore Kraemer are my great Aunt and Uncle. Through the years of hearing my dad talk about them and knowing that Alice had once been a teacher I do not think she would object to these resources being available to those that either need or want them.
Every choice or decision needs to be made through education. That is what she believed and I happen to agree. Sometimes that education is not given at home and is sought from different places. If opposed at home and the young person is still needing answers why not the public library?
To those opposed to this content on the Libraries web site teach the morals in your home and church and do not try and force a publicly funded institution to do it. Especially one who's primary goal is to provide unbiased information and resources.
I may not live my life from the homosexual perspective and I am not a proponent of it, but I am also not going to throw stones and judge anyone else who does choose that course. We need to teach our children tolerance of all differences that as Martin Luther King Jr. preached we do not accomplish our goals via violence and hate, but through tolerance, understanding, and education.
This community is good at arguing via the paper about things that in the end are things we need to be teaching our children at home. Not in our schools or our public buildings. If for instance the library dropped all their pro Bush, Pro conservative or Republican links and placed only Liberal agendas or pro Obama links that would be discrimination correct? That would create a public outcry right? The library would not do that because they are an unbiased institution. Try it, you too may enjoy it, and maybe even a little bit more peace about things instead of getting so angry and frustrated about things you feel our public institutions should be teaching when by law they cannot. Spend that energy teaching children to know people are different and to be tolerant of the differences even if you do not approve of the choices made or behavior exhibited. It will take them far further in life.
P.S. I will be monitering all comments from this point forward. I will decide what will be posted. I will not discriminate based on opinion. I will only filter for content related to topic. No bashing, personal attacks, on either side will be tolerated.