A neglected anniversary

Do you know what today is? You should -- and so should the world

You probably don't think today is much different from yesterday. But the truth is, if today were a holiday, it would be right up there with the Fourth of July.

Today, Dec. 15, is the 219th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights -- the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Why it isn't a national holiday, why we don't shoot off fireworks or have parades or big department store sales is beyond us. At the risk of understating the case, the Bill of Rights may be the most important document ever written by man.

The Bill of Rights protects us in very specific, very profound ways from the runaway power of unbridled government -- and, therefore, from the tyranny of the majority. It builds an eternal firewall around our most precious, most basic and important rights: to speak and write as we wish; to worship how we wish; to be secure in our persons and papers from unreasonable searches and seizures by a powerful government; to bear arms; to not be imprisoned without cause or due process, or to be punished cruelly; to be judged not by the government but by our peers -- and much more.

No other people in history has defended the rights of individuals in all of these ways.

Even today, you cannot travel outside these United States and be protected in all these ways. Even in Western Europe, whence our legal traditions emanate, you can still be found "guilty" of expressing an unpopular view. In most other countries around the world, you can be imprisoned for looking cross-eyed at the government.

Nor are our basic freedoms as found in the Bill of Rights ever truly safe here at home. Zealots and governments constantly attempt to constrict the boundaries of our freedoms, only to have their lines erased -- God willing -- in our courts. Eternal vigilance is our lot, to be sure.

We cannot take our basic freedoms for granted, for they will surely be taken from us. The Bill of Rights is our last line of defense against tyranny. It's the comprehensive policy that insures our dearest freedoms -- to be who we will, to speak as we desire and to be respected in our persons and property.

We declared our independence from Britain on July 4, 1776 -- but without all the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, what good would it have done? Our oppressors would have simply changed clothes.

How this all passes without either massive celebration or even mere mention is both a mystery and a disgrace, fast approaching scandal.

Take time to remember Bill of Rights today
Amendment allows for information, art, criticism

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