Perspective—it’s something I always encourage people to use. Unfortunately many people are reluctant, or incapable, of doing so.
This is especially true when it comes to our Constitution. How dare anyone say an unkind word about the “infallible Constitution.”
But let’s take a look at just a little bit of what the original interpretation of our Constitution allowed.
Our Constitution, when it was written, allowed for very young women (13-14 in many cases) to be married off by families in arranged marriages to much older men. Well it didn’t “allow” for it as much as it didn’t prevent it from happening.
This probably had to do with the fact that the average life expectancy in the late-1700′s was around 35 years of age. Probably another reason why our right to health care wasn’t that big of a deal back then.
However, now days if a 13 year old girl was married off to a 30 year old man we would call that child trafficking, statutory rape, child molestation—or all three. The man would be labeled as a sex offender, then be required to register as one for the rest of his life. By the rest of his life I mean as soon as he was freed after serving a very lengthy prison sentence.
Then we have the almighty Second Amendment and the words “shall not be infringed.” Many believe this amendment is one of the foundations of our rights as Americans. It’s meant to empower people against a tyrannical government. When people use this argument, based upon words written over 200 years ago (during a time very different from our own), they completely ignore the glaring fact that our society has changed drastically.
The Second Amendment was written during a time where militias were our primary means of defense against enemies, Native American conflict was frequent and “going out to dinner” meant a family hunting trip in the woods.
Oh, and when guns were single-shot muskets. (Ed. Emphasis are mine)
Do you really think that if the Founding Fathers knew what our society would become, and what weapons would evolve into, they would have been so general with the wording of our Second Amendment? After all, couldn’t some argue that “right to bear arms” means all arms? Things like plastic explosives or military style rocket launchers and missiles. I mean, if weapons are meant to “keep our government fearful of its citizens,” why is it that the federal government gets to have all of the really kick-ass weapons?
Shouldn’t we, as American citizens who celebrate our Second Amendment, be allowed to own F-22 Raptors loaded to capacity with however many missiles or bombs it can carry? What could possibly go wrong with selling RPG’s at Walmart—without a background check?
Just imagine if someone could travel back in time and tell a father in 1780, “No, you cannot marry off your daughter to that much older man, that’s illegal. Oh, and so is owning slaves.” That father would have scoffed at your attempt to “infringe upon his rights as an American” and you would be deemed unconstitutional by many—if you were lucky enough not to be shot, or hung as “treasonous” for even suggesting something so preposterous.
Yet, in 2013, if someone advocated for the rights of families to sell off their young daughters to older men and for people to be allowed to own slaves, sane people would call them disgusting monsters.
Perspective is not a dirty word. In fact, it should always be used when referencing the “core of our Constitution” (something written over 200 years ago) and how it translates into a modern society. Refusing to acknowledge proper perspective is the greatest failure conservatives make when discussing our Constitution, and how it should be applied today.
Because I hate to break it to conservatives, but progressive liberal ideas are an American tradition. They’re what freed the slaves, gave women the right to vote, ended child labor, created Social Security and Medicare, built public schools and our Interstate Highways, integrated schools, brought groundbreaking technologies, discovered life changing health advancements and pushed our country forward.
Those were all done by “radical liberals” bucking tradition, not conservative Americans sticking to it.