Standing My Ground

     Let’s take a look at the First Amendment – all 45 words of it.
     “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
     All right, then. If Congress shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” how come every religion under the stars demands, and gets, exemptions from federal laws?
     An exemption from federal law is surely a “law respecting an establishment of religion.”
     How come poofty-haired televangelists with gold-plated toilets are exempted from federal laws, including tax laws – but I’m not?
     Why can thousands of churches – overwhelmingly Christian, in this sainted land of ours – demand, and get, exemptions from laws on health care, employment, treatment of women, and virtually complete exemption from taxes?
     Why does the U.S. Supreme Court buy this, and sell it?
     Well, it’s obvious why the Supreme Court does it. “The Supreme Court reads the election returns,” as Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley said 100 years ago.
     And speaking of equal protection of the law: 46 states have “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow you to shoot people to death if you think they might hurt you.
     So if I track down the loud people who call me on the phone every day to try to sell me things, and I kill them, could I be prosecuted for it?
     And if so, why?
     If someone broke into my house and shouted at me and shoved things in my face, and I shot him and killed him, I could not (allegedly) be prosecuted in 46 states.
     I don’t like stand-your-ground laws.
     I think they are a sign of a fascist state.
     But if it’s legal to kill a guy who barges into my house, why shouldn’t it be legal to kill telemarketers, who do the same thing to me and to you every day, thousands of times, millions of times, all over the United States?
     People do this to me 20 times a week, despite federal and state laws against it.
     Why shouldn’t it be legal for me to kill them, and the conspiratorial home invaders who run the telemarketing companies that pay these poor people starvation wages to threaten me with scams?
     Mind you, I am not suggesting that anyone hunt these people down and kill them.
     But why do I not enjoy the equal protection of the laws?
     I am a writer, and rather a sensitive guy. These calls upset me, and when I am upset I cannot work. The calls threaten my livelihood. If that’s not a threat of imminent harm, I don’t know what is. It’s not even a threat of harm – it’s actual harm.
     It’s far more harm, it seems to me, than Trayvon Martin ever did to George Zimmerman.
     Call me a steel-hearted patriot with cruel yet handsome eyes, if you wish. So many people have. But have I not the right to be heard? To claim my rights? To defend the castle that is my home?
     OK, it ain’t much of a castle, and the moat sucks, but still …
     I have many more ideas about equal protection, freedom, the Constitution and all kinds of patriotic stuff. I won’t share them with you now. I’ll do it when I’m damn good and ready.
     Interested?
     Don’t call me; I’ll call you.
     (Robert Kahn won the Parenchyma Freedom Institute’s 1989 Award of Excellence for Defense of Mucilaginous Plants.)

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