The First Amendment to the Constitution includes the five freedoms: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, the Right to Petition, and the Right to Assemble Peaceably.
Webster’s defines assemble as: “to meet together.” And defines assembly as: “a body of persons gathered together (as for discussing and making laws, worship, or entertainment)”
The right to peaceful assembly has long been an underpinning to our Republic. The people have the right to come together–even to march in protest–if the assembly is peaceful. As simple as it sounds, it is one of the proud elements that distinguishes us from other authoritarian or totalitarian governments and societies.
Today, in order to handle a real medical threat, Americans are voluntarily surrendering one of their First Amendment Rights for the good of their fellow countrymen. Our federal government, and most certainly our state governments are demanding of us that we “social distance,” which encompasses everything from staying 6 feet away from a neighbor while walking your dog, to standing 6-10 behind someone at the grocery store, to the inability to attend any movie, concert, church or restaurant gatherings, sporting events, work, classes, business conferences, and even political rallies.
Our freedom to assemble is temporarily suspended. When this pandemic has passed, and when people are allowed to engage again in the life they knew before we were told to stay away from each other, please make sure that your FULL right to assembly is restored. History has shown that once rights are suspended, they very often are not fully restored. There in fact occurs an erosion of the rights–always promoted as being in the “public good.”
We should and will be responsible citizens toward our brethren, but in my opinion we must be on guard for those within our government who will push our President to maintain some “social distancing,” even while allowing most gatherings to resume.
You never want to relinquish your right to march in the streets in peaceful protest. You never want to relinquish your right to call for a meeting to discuss the issues relevant to your work, your religion, or your government. You never want to relinquish your right to invite however many people you want and can afford to your wedding. You never want to allow your business expansion to be limited to only “so many people.” You never want to surrender your right to have as many customers in your establishment as the Fire Department allows, and the customers will tolerate.
I know for a fact that in Communist China, the citizens do not have the right to assemble. Meetings of only a very small size are allowed, and even those have to be permitted, and will be monitored by a political officer. For totalitarians have always known that if the people can not get together in locations–if they can be kept physically separated– they can be subjugated and controlled. And, even more importantly, they can not plot, let alone execute an overthrow of the regime that is enslaving them.
A long way from life in America you say? It was. But, now a perfect out-of- our-control phenomenon that kills people may have changed that. If we are alert, and vigilant, and desirous of our normal freedoms, we will return to our normal life.
But, mark my words, as soon as the virus has passed, someone in Washington will start lobbying for a “new normal” in how often and how much we can associate with each other, and assemble in crowds and groups. It will happen. It will be justified by the goal of saving lives in the future. If we just permanently revoke some of our current freedoms, we can insure that people in the future will be safer. That will be the case that is made, and it will be forced upon the President.
This is an argument that a particular political group (not a party, as members of both major parties subscribe to this philosophy) uses in every area: use of land restrictions, use of natural resources, medical responses, gun ownership battles, use of dangerous medications. The group always promotes the need to sacrifice the “now” for the “future” and has always been willing to trod on the rights of us living today for some vision they have of a future. They have a fear of the future, and instead of working to create the future they desire, they usually resort to limiting our freedoms today, in the hopes that such action will eliminate the future they fear.
It is driven by incompetence. Lacking confidence that they have the competency, they restrict the thought, voice, and movement of anyone who might be more competent.
Please take heed here. I am writing this from my bunker in Florida–dutifully doing what I can to help my fellow Americans. I do not have resentment, and I do not think it is necessarily an unwise choice in the “present” For the moment. But, if we are not allowed to return to our forms of entertainment; if businesses never recover because we are not allowed to assemble in the restaurants or at the ball fields, or the theme parks, and beaches; if permits for demonstrations are denied because there would be too many people in too much proximity; if voting at the voting booths is eliminated for a far more corruptible mail in-vote; if candidates are restricted as to the size of their rallies; if we are not allowed to fly again, and not allowed to create major business conventions, you will read a very different message from me.
For now, wait, serve your countrymen, and be vigilant when normalcy returns. Observe EVERY politician in Washington, or every bureaucrat, who wants you to surrender part of the First Amendment. Do not allow them to do that.
The next Blogs: “He Took the Bait.” And “None Dare Call it Sedition”