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Out of all the things the Founders could have tackled first, they chose freedom of speech.
There's a reason it's number one and I don't think it's because it won a coin toss against "excessive bail." The Founders knew it was hands-down the most important right to protect, because they came from a place that didn't have it. You couldn't freely choose or express your religion or speak out against the government without watching your back.
We've got a special hour coming up on the Black Robe Regiment — Revolutionary War-era local pastors who rallied their congregations after the "shot heard round the world" when the British killed 18 churchgoing Americans at Lexington Green. The pattern continued: Ministers and pastors rallied citizens to the cause.
These were men and women of faith who knew what was at stake. They also knew man would be individually judged by their actions and that the choices they made could affect their salvation. This weighed on these men of faith as they were faced with a decision.
Ben Franklin said we're all going to face God's judgment some day. "What is serving God? 'Tis doing good to man." What can you do better for man than protect his freedom?
That's why it's number one: The First Amendment offers the biggest slice of freedom:
•"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
The Founders fled an ideology that believed societies, in order to function, must have uniformity of religion and it was the duty of government to impose it — even using force — to save souls. If you dared be a non-conformist you could be executed. Now, you can be a Wiccan or you can follow that nut down in Miami who thinks he's Jesus. Go for it. The government can't throw you to the lions.
• "Or abridging the freedom of speech"
This isn't in there so porn stars can "express" themselves. The Founders came from a system that permeated the entire world. The average schlub had no say. You needed to be a duke, an earl or king or wear a fancy wig to have a say. The First Amendment not only gave the schlub a seat at the table, the schlub is at the head of the table.
• "Or of the press"
Ah, the press! The Founders knew that power corrupts. That's why the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, much to President Obama's chagrin. It says what they can't do to you, rather than what they will do to you. And that's a good thing, by the way, Mr. President. The press — in the off-chance that government became too bloated, too powerful — could be the outside force to hold government accountable.
• "Or the right of the people peaceably to assemble"
Could you imagine America today if there was no Tea Party movement? The president has no roadblocks — nothing standing in his way. He could pass whatever he wants. The only thing even slowing him down are the peaceful assemblies of the Tea Parties. I know they are very scary to the left.
• "And to petition the government for a redress of grievances"
Huh? Is that, like, people from PETA are allowed to get signatures? Here's what it means: You have the right to ask the government, what the hell are you doing? That's your right. With every right there's an implied responsibility. Their responsibility is to answer.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention, 81-year-old Ben Franklin was on his way out when someone asked him well, what do we have? A republic or a monarchy? Franklin responded: "A republic... if you can keep it."
No one ever said this was going to be easy. In fact, the Founders didn't think this would last very long and Franklin's response seems to indicate that's what the sentiment in the room was. That was Day One. We are now on Day 81,299 of the American experiment. But somewhere during those 80,000 days, we started to take for granted the gift we were given.
We've dropped the ball. The press has dropped the ball. The enemy is not Republicans or Democrats; the enemy is big government. The Founders have been proven right time and time again: When government gets too big or out of control, it fails.
I've got a documentary coming out soon called "Progressivism: America's Cancer." It's an in-depth look at how progressives threw America off track. Sign up for my free e-mail newsletter at GlennBeck.com and we'll link that for you — and you'll also get important historical information that you just don't see anymore. And you can share the info with your friends, because lines are being drawn and the media sure seems to have picked a side. We're told again and again how the Tea Parties are dangerous. You just can't trust those moms with children, you know? Or grandparents — they may run you over with their motorized carts or pelt you with Werther's Originals.
Yeah, yeah — but what about those people waving their scary snake signs and waving their loaded guns around everywhere? Even you would admit that's dangerous!
Umm, no. Because unlike those idiots overseas who fire their guns in the air to celebrate, we understand that the bullets actually come back down to Earth. The press is quick to point out when someone is packing, but they never seem to notice the obvious contradiction staring them right between the eyes: This is supposed to be a crowd of angry, out-of-control, anti-government mobsters. But not one shot fired? There hasn't even been a good old fashion pistol whipping!
Nothing has happened except people exercised their right to peacefully assemble and speak out.
Yet we have a former president tell us, on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, that speech is dangerous. No, it's not — it's essential. Timothy McVeigh was a certifiable nutcase and what he did isn't protected by anything. What I do, what Rush does, what the Tea Parties are doing — that is protected. The problem is, we forget our own history — and so it can be used against us. Monday was the anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, but it was also the anniversary of something else: Waco.
In his distorted mind, Timothy McVeigh committed his inexcusable act because he was angry at an out-of-control government that could kill women and children, all in the name of protecting women and children. I'm not arguing whether going into Waco compound was the right move or whatever — you decide that for yourself. But why I bring it up, why it's important, is because the former president who is out there condemning the Tea Parties and saying the next Timothy McVeigh is being raised up from the Tea Party movement, is the same president who issued the order to go into the compound. A decision that ended horribly.
Clinton blames the Oklahoma City bombing on people like Rush Limbaugh for questioning the government acting recklessly, resulting in the deaths of women and children. For the first time, in my recollection, we're being told by a former president — and we are expected to believe — that words are more dangerous than action. That the words about how the government acted recklessly, were more dangerous than the 5,000-pound bomb McVeigh actually set off.
Their defense is that speech caused McVeigh, not action by the government. The truth? Only one thing caused this: McVeigh's own insanity. Not Clinton. Not Reno. Not Rush. I blame Timothy McVeigh. But by getting you to argue, it brings us off the point of the real issue: out-of-control government.
David Koresh? Nutjob. McVeigh? Nutjob. Little to do with the story at this point. They are both dead.
What journalists should be doing is exercising their right, responsibility and duty. You have the violence of the G20 protests. It was the left who got violent at the health care town halls. Code Pink shut down a Karl Rove book signing because of threats. Ann Coulter was forced not to speak because the left threatened the event.
No one seems to be afraid of the left. Why? The constant media drumbeat is to watch out for those soccer moms with their strollers and those grandparents with lethal dentures — they may strike at any moment.
The good news is, history is a pattern — it repeats itself. These were some of the things that were said about what Martin Luther King was doing: A headline in the Tuscaloosa News: "Washington Fears Violence in March" or this quote from a 1967 article: "By preaching civil disobedience over the years, Dr. King may unwittingly have helped pave the road to violence."
So you are in good company, Tea Partiers. Standing up peacefully to a government you feel is grabbing too much power and is out of control is the answer.
— Watch "Glenn Beck" weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on Fox News Channel