Constitutional Debates in a Sound-Proof Room

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Prior to becoming an educator, I spent many years as a professional in the recording industry. I invested countless hours behind a recording console having philosophical discussions with a myriad of artists, musicians, actors and filmmakers. As I captured their creative processes onto whatever recording format I was using at the time, our conversations would go in various directions. I, being who I am, would ultimately lead the conversation into a constitutional debate.

It is my hope that you might use some of these talking points to help if you ever engage in conversation with a fellow citizen who doesn’t quite see the value of the entire Bill of Rights. These rights and liberties are a package deal. It is important to recognize that even if we don’t exercise a particular right, we must still protect it for others who do.

Bill: Bass Player for Bernie

Bill, a bass player for a rock band, is in his mid-40s and has multiple “Bernie 2016” bumper stickers on his bass.

I ask, “So what you are telling me is Donald Trump should be the only person in control of these types of firearms, as he is the Commander in Chief of the Military?”

I continue, though I can tell through his body language that Bill is very angered by the “DJT” reference.

“You realize this is what you are advocating for by suggesting that all law-abiding citizens turn in their semi-auto firearms, [right]? Would you have been comfortable with George W. Bush being the only armed person in the country?”

After Bill responds with a harsh “No!,” I ask him if he is OK with violent criminals being armed, to which he replies, “Absolutely not!”

Bill ends the conversation with a simple chuckle when I ask, “Do you really think criminals will hand over their firearms? Do you think Donald Trump will personally protect you when that criminal attacks you? Do you trust your government that much?”

Sarah: Songs vs. Weapons

Sarah is a singer in her mid-20s. While recording vocals, we have a discussion about the differences between the First and Second Amendments. She believes it would be ridiculous to require a government license to write a song.

Sarah argues that the First Amendment protects her right of free speech. The reason those protections should be recognized, she says, is because unlike the Second Amendment, the First can’t hurt people.

“No kidding? Songs are pretty powerful,” I respond. “I seem to remember that when I was a kid, folks felt pretty strongly that teens committed suicide because of Ozzy songs. I can’t imagine that most rap music helps young men to appreciate, honor and respect women. Did you ever hear about Charles Manson?”

Seeing her look of puzzlement, I continue, “Charles Manson said that the song ‘Helter Skelter’ by the Beatles told him to kill folks … and he did. Pretty powerful stuff.”

Sarah responds, “He had to have been crazy. You can’t hold a song responsible for the actions of a deranged individual.”

I agree: “You cannot hold the object responsible; the person is [the] responsible party. So the song is the ‘object?’ But doesn’t it influence feelings, thoughts and emotion?”

Though Sarah argues that it is not the same thing, I point out that had the folks tortured and killed by Manson exercised their Second Amendment right, perhaps they could have stopped him and even prevented him from harming more people.

Jim: The Power of Film

Jim is a documentarian in his mid-50s who believes semi-automatic weapons do more harm to society than film does.

“You cannot compare a movie to a semi-automatic rifle. When people are armed, it is easier for them to do harm,” Jim says.

I respond that that is certainly the message pushed by film: “They often glorify bad behavior and evil intent. [In] how many movies do you see innocent law-abiding citizens use firearms to stop evil people [from] using firearms to do evil?”

Though Jim concedes that the Hollywood message is pretty lopsided, he thinks I am putting too much stock in the power of film when I ask if that message reinforces bad behavior and the irresponsible use of firearms.

“Really? Why did you make this documentary … to bring awareness and influence behavior?” I ask. “If you didn’t believe in the power and influence of film, you would have ZERO integrity as a documentarian. Let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton said that the uprising in Benghazi in 2011 was due to a viral internet video. Film is a powerful thing. Maybe we should have to review our movie ideas past a government board to get approval before we make them. That might weed out the bad ones.”

Jim says, “That is ridiculous and unconstitutional … besides, you could not determine if there is ill intent or if it is art. Who would be qualified to make that determination?”

I agree that is a valid point and continue the discussion with the topic of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911. We both agree that would not have been green lit by the Bush administration.

“Now imagine if the government was the only one […] authorized to be armed,” I say. “Do you think there is a high chance Michael Moore would have made it out of that meeting? Or would he have been sent to Guantanamo for advocating dissent?”

Mark: Founding Fathers’ Foresight

Mark, a guitarist in his 30s, brings the Founding Fathers argument into the debate.

“If the Founding Fathers knew that people would have invented these types of firearms, they would not have wanted the regular population to have them,” he says. “They were talking about flintlocks and muskets.”

The best way to deflect this argument, in my opinion, is to bring in other technology. I ask if he is arguing that only the technology they had access to in 1789 is protected by the Constitution.

“Freedom of the press should only include newspapers then, right? By your logic, blogs, TV, radio, internet [are] not protected by the Constitution — only newspapers because that was the technology of the day.”

Mark argues that is ridiculous, but I continue: “If your argument is that the Founders could not have foreseen certain technology, then there is no difference. What about this record we are making? Is it protected by the First Amendment? Sound recording did not exist when the Constitution was written, let alone microphones, computer-based recording and that guitar you are holding.”

We Have a Fabulous Constitution

I think Frank Zappa wrapped it up best in the July 1991 issue of Spin Magazine:

Here we live in a country that has a fabulous Constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the Government — nobody knows what’s in it. It is one of the best kept secrets. And so, if you don’t know what your Rights are, how can you stand up for them?

Just because we choose not to exercise a right does not mean we shouldn’t honor and protect that right for someone else who does. Take the time to help educate your fellow citizens. An educated and responsibly armed citizenry is truly the fourth check and balance of our Constitutional Republic. It is an honorable station. Act accordingly.

About Klint Macro

Blog author Klint Macro holding a semi-automatic pistol in "high compressed ready" position as he moves through snowy woods.Klint Macro is a USCCA CCHDF Senior Training Counselor and Instructor, DSF Level 1 and 2 Instructor and Training Counselor, co-administrator of National Train A Teacher Day, author, pro-liberty activist, family first responder and the founder of The Trigger Pressers Union. You can find more information or contact him via his website, TriggerPressersUnion.com.

 

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