Sunday, November 12, 2006

No need to post anything for a grade this week, but feel free to do so if you must. Or spend some extra time studying for your Elimination Test.

13 comments:

KimK said...

I personally believe that everyone deserves to receive the full protection of American laws, regardless of their political affiliations. We must be tolerant of different opinions or beliefs in order to make democracy work. If rights are taken away from every person or group that the majority of the public disagrees with or dislikes, a democratic form of government would never work. As long as a political group’s actions are not currently illegal and do not conflict with the expression of the rights of others, I believe they should be allowed. This country was created to preserve liberties, including the freedom of speech and the freedom to peaceably assemble. To deny any group these freedoms conflicts with the principle that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence. Everyone should have to abide by the same rules and regulations, regardless of their beliefs.
Some would argue that certain groups should not be allowed to express themselves due to the content of their beliefs. For example, some people believe there should be laws against gays organizing for homosexual rights. However, if people are not allowed to peaceably assemble to try to change the current policy, how can people make a difference in the government? Everything would remain as it is and new policies would not be created. Everyone has the right to express their opinions as long as they do it in a peaceable way. Another example would be pro-life groups speaking out against abortion. While this may anger pro-choice groups, as long as they speak out in a peaceable way, they are not harming anyone. We are guaranteed the right to peaceably assemble and the right to the freedom of speech by the First Amendment. To deny these rights to any specific group would be discriminatory and unjust. Therefore, to deny these rights to one group would be to deny these rights to everyone. Hence, I believe that everyone, including political groups, should have full protection of American laws.

Megan B said...

Political Groups and Protections

Should all types of political groups receive full protection of the American laws? This is a difficult question facing many Americans, not only in their personal beliefs, but now questions that are “substantially similar” to this are popping up in legislatures all over the country. Most of the questions are hot button issues that are being raised because of the current “culture war” here in the United States. The major issues of conflict regarding equal protection of citizens, the activists and lobbyists in this “culture war” include issues such as: abortion, drug use, prayer in public schools, and gay rights. I personally think that all political groups, of American citizens should receive all the protections they are granted and entitled to as citizens of the United States. Even though some American political groups have extreme views on specific subjects, I believe, just as the Fourteenth Amendment states, they should be given all of the protections under the laws, as long as they are not infringing on the rights of others.
An example of one political group that may not have a socially or morally acceptable view of civil rights, but I feel should be protected by the laws of our nation, is the KKK. This group should be allowed to gather “peaceably” and speak freely about what ever they would like to. The line should be drawn to control their actions when groups such as the KKK start to take away the rights of, or harm other individuals. These individuals should be protected in the same way the groups who dislike them are protected. These groups have the right to free speech, and in the same way everyone in the United States also has the right to not listen to what they have to say.
A fiery issue in the “culture war,” abortion, has caused many disputes over full protection of the laws. It has raised questions that are almost impossible to answer, such as should the unborn even be considered a political group of citizens? When does life and citizenship start? Are the unborn protected by any laws? I am not sure if life starts when a child is born, when a heart beat is detected, when brain waves are detected, or when cells first start to divide, it’s a complex question. I don’t believe that two cells are a child’s life, but I also feel that with today’s medical care a baby does not have to be full term to survive and go on to live a reasonably normal life. The question then, at least in my mind, moves to when does a child’s citizenship start? I think that it should start even before they are born, and given their social security number. Though it is not specifically in any law, one of the founding principals of our nation is that everyone has the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How could anyone have liberty or try to pursue happiness, if they are not given a chance to with life. I find that abortion is just as bad as or worse than the British, whom our forefathers felt compelled to rebel against, since these natural rights were not being protected.
A political group that I believe is currently having the rights regarding equal protection taken from them, are homosexuals. I feel state laws banning gay marriage go too far, and violate the Fourteenth Amendment. I believe, even though I personally do not agree with this choice, people should be given the protection of the law to choose WHO ever they would like to marry. These couples are not being given the same protections under state laws that heterosexual couples are given. Homosexual couples may be denied the protections and common courtesy to visit their loved one in a hospital, or to both be given the health care benefits of an employer, whereas heterosexual couples are usually given these protections. I personally do not see a difference between two people who are committed to each other that are of the same gender, or of the opposite gender.
In conclusion, if we start denying some groups protection of the American laws, then every group is at risk. I believe that all of the political groups of Americans should be given full protection of the laws.

Megan B said...

To comment on another essay, I argee with many of the points that Kim makes in her essay. I agree that the founders wanted to protect the minority, while still giving power of the majority with a democratic form of government. I also feel the same as Kim that many of the pricipals can be traced back to the Declaration of Independence, and could be included as reasons why our forefathers felt it necessary to break away from the British. I tend to agree that the First Amendment proves the point, but I feel the Fourteenth Amendment makes the case even stronger.

trevorhguy said...

Political Group Protection
I am having a hard time deciding whether all types of political groups should have equal freedoms and protections by American laws. The liberal inside me is screaming yes everyone should be free to do as they please. However, the conservative voice inside me, which resides in my right pinky finger, is whispering, “Hey, look out, this might backfire.” I think that this issue of should every group have equal rights is on the foremost front of the culture wars. First, there is a fight as to what protection of American laws actually is. Second, what groups should be protected or neglected by these laws? And, lastly, why should or shouldn’t they be granted this protection?
The first issue I had to clarify for myself was, what does the protection of American laws mean? I interpret this to mean the Bill of Rights. That means that the protections include the freedoms of speech, religion, press, and assembly along with a few others. Some of the battles currently being fought about these issues are: the Patriot Act, which strips our freedom of speech for “national security” reasons. Also, the Amendment recently passed in the state of Wisconsin, which bans gay marriage. This in my opinion is a direct battle against gay persons freedom of speech and maybe even religion. These are just a few of the issues that are in a fog as to whether they should be protected by American laws.
This brings up the issue of who should be protected by the law. Apparently, not the “average” American citizen who is not allowed to say what he thinks because the government won’t allow it. But, we are not talking about the average American alone, we are talking about groups of them such as, feminists, socialists, gays, pro-lifers, and those crazy, crazy Christians, to name a few. Is it within our government’s power to rob any of these groups of their rights? In my opinion, no, it is not. But, here is where things get a little bit iffy. What should we do about a political group of Islamic Extremists and the KKK? They are technically political groups so would it be right to persecute them? If so, why shouldn’t we persecute the Mormons and Protestants? I know what you are thinking, “How can he lump Islamic Extremists and the KKK with Mormons and Protestants?” Well, the way I see it when a religious extremist, lets say, kills a doctor that gives abortions, how is this different from terrorism? The same goes with the KKK bashing on any number of groups and the Christian church bashing on gays. So shouldn’t we treat them all equally and deny them all of their rights even though many members of the party don’t condole these actions? See what I mean, iffy.
This brings me to my last question, why should some groups be protected and others not? The answer is your personal values, what you believe should be allowed and what shouldn’t. There is nothing anywhere in the Constitution that says very specifically who should have rights and who shouldn’t. It is up to the country to decide. Sometimes they decide groups shouldn’t have rights, like the gay marriage amendment. And, other times we decide they should, like the civil rights movement.
This is why the issue of which political groups the law should protect and which shouldn’t is at the forefront of the culture wars. This is why I cannot decide who should have rights and who should not. Not every case is the same sometimes people should get rights like the civil rights movement and other times people should not have them like the Muslim Extremists for example. I think that we may never know the answer to this question because there is no set formula for how much freedom is just right. Some want it all and some want very little. This is why there is a culture war.

Dain said...

Two of the foundations that this country is based upon are Majority Rule and Minority Rights, however, there are times when minorities interfere with governing the nation and disrupt society. Despite this interference, I believe that the rights of all political groups, minority included, should be protected equally.
Many minority political groups are a valuable source of opinions and ideas – many of the ideas responsible for major changes in our society originated with a minority political group. Slavery, Civil Rights, and Women suffrage are just a few of the originally minority movements that changed society. Silencing these minority groups would have prevented their respective movements from growing; a loss for the entire country.
I admit that there are political groups that do nothing to further society. Our society would be better off without the influences of these groups, but that is not sufficient reason to deny them protection. We should continue to grant them equal protection – allow them to gather freely, speak their minds, not fear persecution – but that does not mean that we must agree with them. As long as they don’t violate the rights of others, many of these minority groups are not a threat to society.
Granting minority groups equal protection actually benefits the majority. Minority political groups play the part of the loyal opposition, criticizing the policies of the majority and thus helping to refine them. Allowing opposition to exist also grants certain legitimacy to the nation as a whole. America, the land of the free, has enjoyed the moral high ground in international relegations for much of its history. This moral high ground has helped the US advance its interests.
While some minority groups may disrupt the governing of the nation, they should continue to enjoy equal protection under the laws. They are a valuable source of new ideas, few are threats, and legitimize the majority. In the words of Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll fight to the death defending your right to say it.”

KimK said...

I agree with Megan that everyone should have their rights protected, but the line should be drawn when they start to infringe upon the rights of others. However, I disagree with Trevor's uncertainty of whether or not to protect the rights of all groups: the examples that he uses do not involve their rights (people do not actually have the right to kill a doctor giving abortions); therefore, it would not be infringing upon their rights to disallow it.

tonileep said...

Personally, I believe that all types of political groups should receive the full protection of American laws. American citizens have to be open-minded of other people’s opinions, beliefs, and values in order for democracy to be achieved respectfully. According to the authors James Q. Wilson and John J. Dilulio, Jr. who published American Government, if newspapers and television censorship was brought up with a substantial amount of support or unresponsiveness, if peaceful protests were broken up by outraged mobs, if speakers who were considerably ostracized were deemed intolerable, and if losing candidates refused to let the triumphant candidate proceed office then our political culture would be absent and ultimately democracy would be unsuccessful. American citizens need to have a political culture that allows them to be tolerant of others and be able to discuss their values and beliefs liberally.
According to, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, the first amendment of the United States Constitution 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.” Basically, this establishes that an individual has the right to freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. These rights are protected by our Constitution and are entitled to every American citizen. Because of this, I believe that all political groups should receive the full protection of the law. America is based on preserving our liberties and according to the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” If we deny political groups their individual freedoms then we are denying them their right. America is not recognized and acknowledged for denying rights and that is why we have established ourselves as a country that is based on the people and their rights. If the political groups are not interfering with other peoples rights and if their expressions are not illegal then they should have full protection. Every political group should be obligated to pursue the identical policies despite what their beliefs may be.
However, some American citizens do not believe that certain political groups should be allowed to express themselves because of their particular beliefs. For example, the issue of abortion has been extremely controversial for the last couple of years. Individuals who are against abortion have expressed their opinions about why abortion is sinful and should not be allowed. Understandably, individuals who are for abortion are going to be outraged because they do not share the same beliefs; however, people who are against abortion are using their freedom of speech and they are not impairing anyone. They are simply using their constitutional right, the right that was given to them at birth, to express their opinion. Also, homosexuality has been an imperative issue in America. Individuals who are for homosexuality believe that they should have the right to marry, the right to serve in the military, the right to obtain benefits granted to those of married couples, the right to have the extension of hate crimes laws, and the right to be protected against employment discrimination. However, people who are against homosexuality believe that they don’t deserve the same rights because it has been impressed in our brains that marriage is between one man and one woman. Even though homosexuals aren’t harming individuals, people still want to deny them their rights. Homosexuals are human beings just as heterosexuals and homosexuals are given individual rights at birth that are guaranteed by the Constitution as well. Just because it is their personal belief and their preference doesn’t mean that they should be punished for it. That is unfair and unjust. If we deny rights to various political groups then we would have to deny everyone those rights as well to make it fair and just. Because of this, all political groups should receive the full protection of American laws.

tonileep said...

I agree with Kim and Megan about various points in their essays. Like both of them, I agree that every political group should receive the full protection of American laws. I feel that it has to do with the first amendment and the fact that we are all given the same rights at birth, regardless of our different beliefs or values. Also, it has to deal with the Declaration of Independence and that all men are created equal, so all political groups should be created equal as well. People are always going to have different values and beliefs, everyone is not going to agree on everything.

trevorhguy said...

Dain makes a very good point when he talks about how minorities often times bring about the most radical changes for the majority. I also agree that it is important to protect everyone’s rights, within reason. He is also right about the minority being the watch-guard or conscience for the majority. It is a very important role in our society and if we stifle it we will stifle ourselves.

MikeM said...

Liberty and Equality

America was created and is now based on two simple principles, liberty and equality. Under the Constitution all people are given the same rights and all people should be treated equally. No where is this more clear then in the first, and fourteenth amendments. This is why I believe that all types of political groups should receive the full protection of American laws.
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…” This clearly states that all people have the right of religion, speech, press, and assembly and under no circumstance should Congress make a law restricting any of these rights. By restricting any groups right to assemble, give speeches, or hand out pamphlets you are directly denying those peoples first amendment rights.
The fourteenth amendment takes this idea even further when it says, “No State shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This amendment gives equal rights to all political groups regardless of what they believe in. By restricting any group’s rights based solely on what they believe in or what they are trying to tell people goes against the fourteenth amendment.
Not only does restricting certain political groups rights go against the first and fourteenth amendments but also creates additional problems. One of these problems would be where to draw the line. This would cause controversy because many groups will inevitably fall on the line between acceptable and not acceptable. Also what one person thinks is the right thing is not always what another person might think is the right thing. Another problem in denying certain groups certain rights is that by trying to prevent one group from taking rights from other groups you are doing yourself just what you were trying to prevent. By limiting the rights of certain groups in hopes of preserving the rights others you are denying people their rights.
By restricting certain groups certain rights you are going against what America stands for. America was created as a free nation for all its citizens to believe what they want to believe and to be able to speak freely. Without the equal protection of American laws America is not truly free.

BrandonSh said...

I would usually say everybody deserves full protection of the Constitution. But some groups simply are despicable and intolerant, and should not be allowed to the freedoms everybody else enjoys. I am mostly talking about Neo-Nazis and various white supremacist groups such as the K.K.K. When your political groups’ soul purpose of existing is to take other’s rights away, you should not be allowed to say or do what you want. These organizations should, and hopefully one day will, be denied the right to assemble, the freedom to publish their hate, and the right to bear arms. If you think that I am being extreme, look at it this way. America is already a pretty racist country, and everyday these groups get more members that exist merely to hate people with differences. In order to stop these people from taking control of government positions they should be barred from spreading their messages. I don’t want people murdered or jailed because they have a different religion or a different skin color. And as far as weapons go, do you really think that a group, who openly admits they want to “do away with” all Jews and/or African Americans to legally own firearms? I know I don’t.
It makes me angry every time I start talking about these segregationist organizations, especially because I know that people support and belong to them. I cannot understand the mentality of a person who wants another person killed when they did nothing. Not only that, but people in other countries see this kind of intolerance and must think we live hundred’s of years in the past. I want social and economic progress, not blatant mistreatment of minorities, to represent my country.
By now you may think I want everybody to be denied guaranteed freedoms. But that is not true. In fact as I said from the beginning, in almost every case I think that people have the right to their opinions. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere, and I think that if you associate yourself with a group who wants to take somebody’s rights to life and liberty away with no justifiable reason, then you should be denied the right to spread your thoughts on why all Jewish people or African Americans should not be allowed in the U.S. I have no problem with people who are against abortion, environmental protection, or people who are for the war. They are not doing anything to hurt me, and a little debate now and then is a good thing. It’s kind of the same idea of, you can protest against the president, but you cannot say you want to kill him. It is distasteful and it just goes too far.

BrandonSh said...

I agree with almost everybody, that people should be protected in America. People should always be allowed to say, do, and protest what they want. Up until the point where it becomes dangerous to allow them to do so. I think that Mike provides some of the best evidence that the Founder's wanted America to be a free place for all ideas. But I still hold onto the belief that when an entire organization of people threaten to kill or hurt somebody, they should be denied the same rights they want to take away.

KerryW said...

In regards to Trevor's "free response", I would like to say that I too found it difficult to choose between a yes or no answer. This is because although I would love to arrest KKK members for their unacceptable beliefs, it wouldn't be fair. Plus, where do you draw the line between what is acceptable or not?
Trevor hit anther point right on by asking how do you choose which groups should be protected. "It all depends on your personal beliefs". This all makes the issue very, as Trevor put it,"iffy". It it very complicated and forces to choose whether or not you strongly believe in some issues.