Monday, July 30, 2012

An American's Most Precious Right

Sunday morning in Cincinnati, Ohio, I am in a bagel joint. Waiting at the cash register for my wife and a friend to collect their order, I pick up the local newspaper and start reading. The front page story is about voting rights. It begins:
Each election year, Ohio residents cast thousands of ballots that are not counted.
Despite efforts to simplify the state’s voting to avoid widespread discarding of ballots, it could happen again in November’s presidential race.
The Enquirer, during a weeks-long examination of the state’s electoral procedures, found that voting – America’s most precious right and the foundation for all others – is a fragile civic exercise for many Ohioans.
I shake my head. Behind the counter is a girl, maybe 20 years old. Her name tag says Karol Lyn. She is petite and wearing glasses. I tell her I have a question for her.

"What would you say is your most precious right as an American citizen." She hesitates but just for moment.

"I would say freedom of speech."

Bingo!

So now I have another question? How is it that a 20-something-year-old cashier at a Bruegger's Bagels shop better understands the significance and primacy of the First Amendment, than the editors and staff writers at one of Ohio's largest newspapers? I mean, it's only the core right that protects the whole profession of journalism from government interference!

The idea that my right to free speech (or any of the others in the Bill of Rights) are contingent on my right to vote in any particular election is ludicrous. Those rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution and can't be "voted" away without changing the constitution. Yes, that can be done by vote but it sure takes a lot of them.

There is nothing "fragile" in the civic exercise of voting. In every election a tiny minority of voters spoil their own ballots by making mistakes and voting improperly. Concerns about voter fraud and stolen elections have led to new laws requiring voters to be able to prove they are who they say they are when the cast a ballot. As has been pointed out by others, you need an ID to fly on an airplane, to buy a beer, or a pack of cigarettes. Has our right to fly, drink, or smoke, really become "fragile?"

Utterly ridiculous.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dannytheman said...

As I always say, "The Second Amendment is there to protect the First."

I agree, freedom to say/write your thoughts/feelings/political positions is the number one thing that makes the United States great.

July 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM 
Blogger Michael P. Rellahan said...

Was this the Clifton branch, the downtown branch, or the East End branch of the bagel shop? P.S. Don't forget to have some Skyline!

July 30, 2012 at 4:29 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

It was one pretty close to Hyde Park. Don't like Skyline. Do like White Castle.

July 30, 2012 at 4:44 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

And the Ribs King Montgomery Inn

July 30, 2012 at 4:48 PM 

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