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For hundreds of years, our Constitution created by the finest patriots, politicians and lawyers from throughout the colonies protected us from the wilder excesses of centralized government, and protected our freedoms from those who would take them away.
Ever since we threw off the yoke of oppression by our toffee-nosed British rulers and demanded 'No taxation without representation' that old hemp document has been both shield and sword in our battle to protect our freedoms.
So why then do I believe that the Constitution is due for a radical overhaul ?
Read on, and I shall tell you.
The Constitution of the USA is a venerable document. For many Americans, it is almost a 'sacred text'. It is one of the many things that made America great, and which set us apart from other countries. Unfortunately there are a couple of problems with it, which cannot easily be addressed, due to the almost religious fervour of the 'Constitutionally Correct' right wing elements in our society.
These reactionary forces of conservatism seem to believe that the Constitution is set in stone, they have elevated it to the point where it has attained mystical significance, rather than being a simple functional document describing what the voting public believed in some 200 years ago.
To understand why the constitution must be radicaly redesigned, you have to go back a couple of hundred years. Think back to the kind of mindset which prevailed during those times. Slavery was commonplace. Women's rights were almost non-existant, indeed until the 19th Amendment was enacted, they could not even vote. Homosexuals were persecuted, the death penalty for sodomy was only revoked in South Carolina as recently as 1873. Religious tolerance was not high on the agenda with Wiccans singled out for especially poor treatement.
So as we can see, the constitution was borne of a period of history which most of us today would consider barbaric. This is what I see as a major problem with the constitution.
The second problem with the constitution is that many of the amendments have perverted its original spirit.
Consider the following 'amendments' to the constitution, and my explainations as to why they are harmful.
This is one of the MAJOR flaws in our constitution. The idea that all speech is of equal value. How ridiculous. The problem here is that it creates friction between groups, where a more restrictive law would promote harmony.
Here in the USA we are allowed to use racial insults, and hurl abuse at respected religious figures in the name of "freedom", but almost all civilized countries recognize that to protect the rights of minorities, it is necessary to restrict freedom of speech. This is not some Orwellian nightmare or Soviet-style oppression.
It is simply good government. It forces us to respect minorites and diversity. This inevitably leads to a more harmonious society. Unrestricted freedom of speech is a lofty ideal, but 'Joe Sixpack' cannot be trusted not to abuse this right.
Getting some reasonable restrictions on what can and cannot be said is the first step toward creating a racism-free society for our children.
Another glaring piece of constitutional stupidity. In the days when the most powerful weapon was an unreliable flintlock pistol, I guess it might have made sense to allow the public to own killing tools such as these. The chances of them actually working was remote. However in these days when the high tech arsenal of Mac-10, Tec-9, Glock, Uzi, H&K MP5, and various other tools of mass murder are in the hands of every crack dealer on every corner, does it really make sense to persist with such an anachronism ? Columbine is just one example of the thousands which demonstrate clearly the moral bankruptcy of allowing 'Joe Sixpack' to get his hands on these lethal toys.
Here we could learn a lot from our cousins across the pond. They recently outlawed handguns completely, and have experienced a spectacular fall in the number of crimes committed with legally held handguns.
If we do not start to remove guns from circulation our children face the prospect of Columbine in their schools, or accidental death in the home. Is this a price worth paying for a constitutional amendment of so little practical value ?
I realise that the gun hobbyists will object to having their toys taken from them, so I propose that we remove them gradually, like when someone is trying to get off drugs. We could start by outlawing all automatics, then semi-automatics a year later, then in further years handguns (45s 38s 9mm), and finally air pistols. The political outcry from the gun lobby would be a small price to pay for the safety of our children.
In these days of high priced lawyers, is trial by jury really the most economic way to proceed ? Should the taxpayer be forced to pay for lawyers for known criminals ? It is ridiculous that all criminals should automatically have the right to trial by jury. In the vast majority of cases, the police know the person they caught was guilty, and it is obvious to everyone concerned. In such cases, the police should be allowed to use their discretion as to whether a jury trial is warranted.
If the cost of the trial would amount to more than the cost of the alleged crime, then it is simple economics. The public interest is not served by a jury trial, the case should be decided by a hand-picked panel of expert judges to save time and money. (This should happen behind closed doors to avoid a media circus like the OJ Simpson trial). Again our European friends are ahead of our game on this one
The constitution is part of our history and one we should be proud of, but in these days of terrorism, feminism, multi-culturalism, globalization, the internet, cheap drugs and guns it is starting to look less and less like a sensible way to run a society, and more like a recipie for the total breakdown of American society.
My proposed solution to this is for the Federal Government to intervene, and develop a massive computer system which could be used to survey every single voter in the country on a wide variety of issues (gun rights, homosexual rights, maternity/paternity leave etc etc etc). This survey could be filled in online, by everyone in the country of voting age.
Once the results were collated in the massive database, they could be given to a team of constitutional lawyers who could then draft a new constitution for us.
This constitution would be less 'buggy' than our 18th century relic, and therefore more easy to use. It would enumerate the rights that are relevent to today's society, and would better reflect the diversity of views and opinions that make up American society today.