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.
When I worked at Disney World in the early 1980s, I had a conversation with a gentleman at Epcot's Chinese pavillion who had only arrived from China a month earlier. He had said something positive about President Reagan, and I set him straight about the doddering old fool that occupied the White House. I blasted his cuts of the Capital Gains Tax, which had unleashed an orgy of corporate takeovers and layoffs. The gentleman was horrified that I would dare say anything against the government, and looked around nervously as if expecting the FBI to appear from nowhere, slap me around and drag me away.
Certainly there are other countries (I can think of a few in the Middle East) with no freedom to speak.
But our own freedom to speak carries such heavy limitations that to think we are better than the Chinese is laughable. You can be arrested for "hate speech." If you badmouth the wrong corporation (and face it, the corporations are the government here, the politicians only being figureheads who do the corporations' bidding) you will be slapped down with a S.L.A.P.P. suit. You won't go to jail, but you will be financially ruined.
2600.org wasn't allowed to link to an algorithm (DeCSS). The courts have held that you have no freedom of speech when writing in a computer language.
Our freedom of speech is illusory.
Religion? Again there's China, and Cuba. However, I don't think that Christianity or Hinduism are illegal in Saudia Arabia.
On the other hand, children have been suspended and even expelled from school for evangelizing. They're being punished both for their speech and their religion.
As to freedom of assembly, that's been gone for quite some time. You want to "petition the government for a redress of grievances" by protesting en masse in front of the statehouse? You're going to go to jail for not having a permit- in short, you must have permission to petition the government by peaceful assembly. Having to ask permission doesn't seem too free to me.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
I'll let you folks beat these dry horse bones. Just let me say that you have no right whatsoever to bear arms in the city of Chicago. In fact, try walking down the street of any American city carrying a shotgun. And again, at least in the state of Illinois, you have to have a Firearms Owner ID card (FOID) to own a gun. Again, if it's my right, why do I have to ask permission?
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
When the cop pulls you over and wants to search your car, try refusing. Apparently a car isn't a "place to be searched," or an "effect."
In short, your 4th amendment rights are meaningless.
...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Except after your 4th amendment rights aren't violated when they search your car and they find a little baggie of pot under the back seat. They take the car! No trial, nothing. Even if you go to trial on the drug charge and are found not guilty, they still keep the car.
A few years ago the newspapers reported that there was a soldier who was pulled over for driving a used car while black in some little redneck state down south. They searched the car and found cocaine in the door panels. He was arrested and his car confiscated. It turned out that he had bought the car three weeks earlier, and the cocaine came with the car. Nobody knew how it got there. The soldier was released without any charges being filed- but he never got the car back.
So much for that part of the 5th amendment.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Apparently bail of a million dollars is not exessive for an unemployed man accused of murder. Apparently zapping a man with 90kv in order to kill him isn't cruel, nor was it unusual when it was first done.
And again, it doesn't apply at all if you're a suspected terrorist. The Bush admisistration, who touts our supposed superior freedom, has gotten his lawyers to say that torture is neither cruel nor unusual.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Where in the Constitution does it say they can deny my right to do anything to my body I wish? How are drug laws Constitutional? Particularly when they felt they had to amend said constitution to outlaw alcohol?
If a woman has the right to remove a zygote, blastocyst (which, btw and beside the point I do support) from her body, why does she not have the right to put anything she wants into her body, whether it be food, cocaine, or rat poison?
On top of this, there are countries in this world with more freedoms than ours. I'm thinking Amsterdam, and most likely your country's citizens enjoy freedoms we Americans have long been denied.
It's been said that if you repeat a thing long and often enough, it's believed. It was likely true that Americans in 1800 were the freest people on Earth, but no more. Bush and every other American should just shut the hell up about our vaunted freedoms, especially when they all seem hell bent on removing them.
Non Americans, please use this forum to point out freedoms you enjoy that we don't.