Petty politics vs. The Spirit of ’76

In Rhode Island the Bristol Fourth of July Committee, members found here, has banned the Rhode Island Tea Party folks from the Bristol Independence Day parade – forever.

The Tea Partiers’ offense was wiping their feet on an American flag, no wait, that was Obama’s associate Bill Ayers that some sympathizers, who were independent citizens and not part of the Tea Party parade contingent, passed out copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence while walking alongside the float.

The Bristol parade czars determined, several days after the parade, that the Constitution and the Declaration are “fliers.” Apparently, unless you pay $200 or $300 dollars per “runner,” passing out fliers is against the rules, which state:

There will be no distributions or fundraising by any float applicant. No objects of any kind may be thrown, sprayed or otherwise distributed to spectators from any entry (i.e., candy, silly string, snappers, advertisements, etc.) Failure to comply will result in immediate removal from the parade.

Immediate removal did not occur, despite the fact that Jim Tavares, chairman of the parade’s float committee, claims to have “confiscated” several copies of the subversive offending Founding documents himself. I do not think he would claim not to have recognized them. This decision, then, seems the result of deliberation – probably political deliberation – because it’s hard to believe the parade committee would claim they were owed an advertising fee in this case.

I can understand wanting to to charge local businesses an advertising fee to hand out offers to deliver milk and eggs (which were handed out, without approbation, so we assume the fee was paid), but I cannot figure out where copies of the Constitution are advertising for anything but liberty, or how they could be considered on the same level as candy and silly string. Apparently, a majority of the 109 members of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee do think one or the other of these characterizations is accurate.

Governor Carcieri is wondering about this decision, as is the Providence Journal.

Visit the Rhode Island Tea Party site for updates. Good luck to them.

Were I a RITP member, I’d consider legal action absent an apology. And though I am not an RITP member, I would contribute to a fund for the purpose should such a challenge be pressed.

…our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

This is the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, signed by men who fully expected they might lose their lives and their fortunes, but who would never lose their honor.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sometime today, while you are enjoying your freedom, find time to read the whole thing. If you have guests, read it to them out loud. If you have children, read it to them. The 56 men who signed our founding document deserve your remembrance.

Alpha and Omega

Alpha.
The Declaration: 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. …

Omega; still unfolding. The Constitution: 1787.

A question as yet unresolved.

There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Well?