Who has more rights — you or me?

We’re blessed with an abundance of rights in this country. We have a right to free speech, the right to practice any religion of our choosing, the right to voice our dissent and peacefully protest. We vote our leaders into office, participate in local government and sit on school boards.

United States Constitution

“We the People of the United States of America…”

So what do we do when our rights collide? Think about it. There’s approximately 314 million people in this country. That’s 314 million people from all over the world with vastly different opinions and preferences, tastes and traditions. The religion your family has devoutly practiced for generations is referred to as witchcraft by others. The clothes that you choose to wear are frowned upon by more conservative types. Your thoughts and beliefs are 180° from people you work with every day.

Who has more rights: you or me? You’re signing petitions to get my favorite show removed from the air. Do your rights go beyond not watching it? Do you have the right to have it removed from the air? Don’t I have the right to watch it? The music you buy offends some people. They work to have it pulled from the shelves. Your free speech is vehemently opposed by others, so they sue to have your rights rescinded. Who has more rights: the speakers or those who don’t want to listen?

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”


When I was in college, a 17-year-old went to a store in our city and bought music his dad didn’t approve of. Instead of being angry at his son, the father was incensed that music with explicit lyrics was for sale — anywhere. He started a petition, rallied friends & families and insisted that his 17-year-old son should not be tempted by this evil music. The store, an international chain, responded by pulling all explicit lyric music from its shelves. A journalist from our school paper wrote an article explaining how quickly we wouldn’t have any music left in the world following this trend. Trust me, no matter how much you love something, someone somewhere hates it.

Let your voice be heard on this important subject.

Who’s rights prevail when our rights collide?

How far do our rights go — to change the channel or have a show removed from the air?

International friends, how is this dilemma handled in your country?

I’m looking forward to your thoughts!

“Constitution of the United States and Feather Quill” by Rosie O’Beirne // CC BY 2.0 
“American President Speech” via António Costa Amaral

Cheers,
Jaime

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What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality

I thought this post from March 30, 2012, was especially relevant today and worth a share.

What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality.

Please read and share your thoughts…

Cheers,
Jaime

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What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality

One of my favorite movies is The American President, and the scene that always jumps to mind is President Andrew Shepherd’s (an inspired performance by Michael Douglas) speech on America. If you haven’t seen it or just want to relive it, here you go.

Why do I love this speech? It nails the best — and hardest — things about living in this country. As Shepherd says…

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”

Living in America brings freedom of speech, the ability to practice whatever religion you so desire, the right to peacefully assemble, to protest. It does not bring insulation from others’ opinions, ways of life or personal beliefs. The law is not your personal value system. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that you personally agree with it; it means that other people in this country have rights as well.

It's time for marriage equality.

As the Supreme Court debates marriage equality, a furor has erupted from both sides on the issue. However, it makes sense to take a step back while taking a deep breath. It doesn’t matter (in a legal sense) if you’re for or against marriage equality; it’s necessary or the 14th Amendment isn’t really law.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The law’s pretty clear. Our LGBU friends should legally be allowed to enjoy the benefits of marriage just like their heterosexual counterparts. To quote the aforementioned fictitious President Shepherd…

“You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

Yes, we all need personal value systems and beliefs to navigate our course in life. Legalizing marriage equality isn’t an attack on or a support of your personal beliefs; it’s simply extending benefits of citizenry to those currently without. If you’re straight, it won’t directly affect your life. But to our gay friends, it’s an overdue part of the process toward equality.

Obviously, this is a contentious issue, so I would love your thoughts. Is my logic correct? Or do you believe that the law is about morality and personal beliefs?

Video of speech courtesy of antoniocostaamaral via YouTube

Image courtesy of The Human Rights Campaign via Storify

Looking forward to the day we’re all equal,
Jaime

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