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Tag: Thomas Jefferson

This cartoon by Jim Morin shows an old-fashioned manual typewriter with “FREE PRESS” on one row of keys. In the upper left corner, it says, “The Keys to a Strong, Enduring Democracy.”

The importance of Freedom of the Press

Today my First Amendment series shifts its focus to the importance of Freedom of the Press. Of the “four freedoms” enshrined in the First Amendment, I take this one especially personally.

This cartoon by Jim Morin shows an old-fashioned manual typewriter with “FREE PRESS” on one row of keys. In the upper left corner, it says, “The Keys to a Strong, Enduring Democracy.”
(Morin-toons/Cartooning for Peace/Global Geneva)

My first paying job was writing stories for a local “shopper” newspaper (back when those existed). Journalism was my undergraduate minor (only because my school didn’t offer a major). I’ve been a freelance or staff reporter for several publications over the years. And I taught journalism or publications along with art for all but three semesters of my teaching career.

The past three posts in this series (from July 2, July 10, and July 16, 2020) have taken a look at the beginning of the First Amendment. If you’ve been following them, you probably can recite this article of the Bill of Rights with me from memory by this time.

The part relevant to today’s discussion is: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom . . . of the press.”

How important is this freedom?

The Founders were very clear about the importance of a free press. Thomas Jefferson (despite his deeply troubling record on racism) had a clear-eyed certainty when it came to free dissemination of the news.

This quote-image from Thomas Jefferson says, “If I had to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”
(American Center New Delhi)

Jefferson wasn’t alone in his evaluation. Through the centuries since those words were written and ratified, other influential thinkers of their times have agreed.

This image-quote from Wendell Wilkie, an influential 20th-Century political voice in the USA, says, “Freedom of the press is the staff of life, for any vital democracy.”
(AZ Quotes)

Wilkie and his sometimes political opponent, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, agreed on several issues. One was the importance of Freedom of the Press.

This quote-image from Associate US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter says, “Freedom of speech and the press are essential to the enlightenment of a free people and in restraining those who wield power.”
(AZ Quotes)

Justice Frankfurter and his near-contemporary Walter Cronkite occupied different spheres of the national stage. Yet they also both saw Freedom of the Press as essential for the health of the democracy.

This image quote from 20th-Century news anchor Walter Cronkite says, “Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”
(AZ Quotes)

In future posts, I plan to explore the most virulent forces threatening freedom of the press, and through it our freedom, and fate our form of government itself.

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to Jim Morin, Cartooning for Peace, and Global Geneva for the “Free-Press Typewriter” image. I’m grateful to the American Center New Delhi on Facebook, for the quote from Thomas Jefferson. Many thanks to AZ Quotes for Wendell Wilkie’s evaluation of democracy’s need for a free press. And to AZ Quotes again, for Felix Frankfurter’s observation on the importance of free speech and press. And finally AZ Quotes for yet a third time in a row, for the words from Kansas City’s own Walter Cronkite. I appreciate you all!

With a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as its backdrop, this quote from Dr. King reads, "If we are to have peace on earth . . . our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective."

Freedom of religion

Monday’s post was partially inspired by a column I saw in the newspaper. Today’s post is, too. Same issue of the Kansas City Star, actually. But this one originated in The Times of IsraelSorry to say, it has a pretty dark tone. I’m talking about freedom of religion.

Yes, I mean the clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that goes, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 

This illustrated quote from Thomas Jefferson uses a portrait of him, alongside his words, "The constitutional freedom of religion is the most unalienable and sacred of all human rights."

But I’m also talking about more than that. The need for–and the attacks against–individuals’ freedom of religion is a worldwide issue. And 2019 was a challenging year for those who support the ideabecause it was a pretty scary time to assemble for worship.

Fire in the holy places

I could approach this topic of attacks on places of worship from several directionsWarterrorismhate crimesshootingsbombingsarson (whether intentional or negligent) . . . Some took worshipers’ lives. Some “only” took historic buildingsholy books, or other sacred objects.

But all took peace of mind. All took traditions and cherished ways of being. And all scarred people’s lives.

St. Mary Baptist Church was the first of three historically black churches burned near Opelousas, Louisiana by an arsonist now charged with hate crimes. (photo by Natalie Obregon/NBC News).
St. Mary Baptist Church was the first of three historically black churches burned near Opelousas, Louisiana by an arsonist now charged with hate crimes. (photo by Natalie Obregon/NBC News).
Firefighters eye the smoldering remains of the Adas Israel Congregation's 118-year-old synagogue, which went up in flames this year. Although not the result of a hate crime, it was an example of irresponsible behavior that resulted in devastating loss. (Photo from MPR/Dan Kraker, via Jewish Telegraphic Agency).
Firefighters eye the smoldering remains of the Adas Israel Congregation’s 118-year-old synagogue, which went up in flames this year. Although not the result of a hate crime, it was an example of irresponsible behavior that resulted in devastating loss. (Photo from MPR/Dan Kraker, via Jewish Telegraphic Agency).
Assailants burned statues and holy books in a southern Sindh Province Hindu temple. The brazen attack sparked censure from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan on his Twitter feed. Police officials promised an independent investigation, while the advisor to a local Hindu council demanded greater security for Hindu temples. (Photo from Imran Khan/Times of India).
Assailants burned statues and holy books in a southern Sindh Province Hindu temple. The brazen attack sparked censure from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan on his Twitter feed. Police officials promised an independent investigation, while the advisor to a local Hindu council demanded greater security for Hindu temples. (Photo from Imran Khan/Times of India).
With a bonfire in the background, this quote from boxing coach Cus D'Amato says, "Fear is like fire. It can cook for you. it can teat your house. Or it can burn you down."
Without respect for others, we all live in peril from that third kind of fire.

Bullets, Bombs, and other Explosives

It isn’t only fire that’s been a threat to holy places this year. Even more destructive to the lives of worshipers is violent intent. People have fired hundreds of rounds, or lobbed bombs and grenades into sacred spaces. Into peaceful crowds of people just practicing their faith

It’s hard for me to grapple with the depth of dysfunction and twisted logic that makes such an act seem rational to anyone. But the evidence that it can be rationalized was overwhelming this year.

A soldier stares at the destruction of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Philippines. Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives during Mass last January (photo from WESMINCOM Armed Forces of the Philippines Via AP/Times of Israel)
A soldier stares at the destruction of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Philippines. Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives during Mass last January (photo from WESMINCOM Armed Forces of the Philippines Via AP/Times of Israel)
In a possible retaliation for the cathedral bombing, two Muslim scholars died and four others suffered injuries in a grenade attack on a mosque in Zamboanga. (Photo from Armed Forces of Philippines via AP/Al Jazeera)
In a possible retaliation for the cathedral bombing, two Muslim scholars died and four others suffered injuries in a grenade attack on a mosque in Zamboanga. (Photo from Armed Forces of Philippines via AP/Al Jazeera)
Mourners outside the Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a white supremacist gunned down 40 people on March 15 (Photo from Agence France-Presse/Reuters via VOA)
Mourners outside the Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a white supremacist gunned down 40 people on March 15 (Photo from Agence France-Presse/Reuters via VOA)
Bombs went off on Easter Sunday during services in several locations in Sri Lanka. Here's what was left of the sanctuary at St. Sebastian's Church, where 104 people died. (Photo from AP/Chamila Karunarathne via The Times of Israel)
Bombs went off on Easter Sunday during services in several locations in Sri Lanka. Here’s what was left of the sanctuary at St. Sebastian’s Church, where 104 people died. (Photo from AP/Chamila Karunarathne via The Times of Israel)
On the final day of Passover, a gunman opened fire on congregants at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue (California). This picture shows a makeshift memorial set up across the street. (Photo from AP/Gregory Bull via The Times of Israel).
On the final day of Passover, a gunman opened fire on congregants at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue (California). This picture shows a makeshift memorial set up across the street. (Photo from AP/Gregory Bull via The Times of Israel).

Can’t we make it stop?

Are you exhausted by the carnage yet? We’ve only made it to the end of April 2019, with our latter set of photos above. There’s been lots of violence since then, but I think we all more than get the point

There are dangerous people out there. They have guns, bombs, grenades, and flames–and they’re not afraid to use themDon’t seem the least bit ashamed to attack innocent people in worship services, although any such act is shameful and cowardly. They don’t care if a place has historic significance, or if it means something to others, although that attitude is invariably brutish and self-serving. Nothing within themselves seems to hold them back, and no security system will stop them all. 

But we can and must do better than this

We must support broader access to mental health care and social services–not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it can help defuse the human hatred that sets off all-too-literal bombs. Keep pushing back till commonsense curbs put access to deadly weapons of mass destruction out of unauthorized reach. Strive for greater educational and economic opportunity for all, since we know that inequity breeds resentment and hatred. Stay alert for problems festering in our midst, and fearlessly call them out.

Freedom of religion isn’t only an American concept. It’s a basic universal human right (see Article 18)If we don’t uphold and defend it as a right for all, then it is secure for none of us.

With a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as its backdrop, this quote from Dr. King reads, "If we are to have peace on earth . . . our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective."

IMAGE CREDITS: 

Many thanks to AZ Quotes for the wisdom from Thomas Jefferson. I am indebted to NBC News and Natalie Obregon for the photo of St. Mary Baptist Church in Louisiana; to Jewish Telegraphic Agency for the MPR/Dan Kraker photo of the burned remains of Adas Israel Congregation‘s synagogue; and to Imran Khan, via The Times of India for the photo from the temple in Kumb. I’m grateful for the quote about fear and fire by boxing coach Cus D’Amato, from Authentic Traveling with Andrew Scott

Many thanks to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Associated Press, via Times of Israel and via Al Jazeera, for the photos of aftermaths from the two Philippine bombings. I’m also grateful to Agence France-Presse/Reuters via VOA for the photo from New Zealand, and to the AP and Chamila Karunarathne via The Times of India, for the photo from inside the sanctuary of St. Sebastian’s. Thanks also to AP and Gregory Bull via The Times of Israel, for the photo from Poway, CA.

Finally, I deeply appreciate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wisdom, and the image from The Peace Alliance that gives it a dramatic presentation.

Two quotes from famous Americans urge you to vote Tuesday. Will your voice be heard?

Vote Tuesday! Will your voice be heard?

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

In many parts of the USA, Tuesday is Election Day. Do you know who (or what) is on the ballot? Have you done your research? Maybe even already voted, in places that allow advance voting? Good for you! When a 53.4% voter turnout is a record year, a lot of people’s voices aren’t being heard. Will your voice be heard this year?

Here's a pair of illustrated quotes. In the left-hand one Thomas Jefferson says, "We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate." on the right, Susan B. Anthony says, "Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it." I intend both to encourage you. Will your voice be heard?

For those of you asking, “Wait! There’s an election?” shame on you! But it’s still (just barely) not too late. Vote Tuesday! Will your voice be heard? Or will you be one of those who roll over with a yawn and fail to show up, then complain that your voice isn’t heard?

Excuses aren’t hard to find. Will your voice be heard?

Yeah, it’s an off-year. No big marquee names (at least, none are marquee names now. Political careers begin with elections like the one we’re facing this week). But local elections matter precisely because things that happen locally impact us immediately. But they also are the launch-pad for larger careers.

Case in point: who knew, ten years ago, that anyone outside of South Bend, IN would care who its mayor was? Trust me: Small elections matter. And there’s no other place where your vote counts more

As one-time Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” Engrave it on your heart and believe it. Small, local elections matter tremendously. So let your voice be heard!

Here's a red-white-and-blue design with a photo of the late Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill. It illustrates his famous maxim, "All politics is local." Even in a small, local election, we should let our voices be heard!

So. What’s on your ballot?

In Johnson County, Kansas, it’s an ongoing saga. You may recall in August, we voted in a primary to narrow the field of candidates for local races (in Westwood, only the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees, but it was a battle of progressives versus conservatives, and quite an interesting contest). Tuesday we make the final cuts in that race.

But wait! There’s more! We’re voting for a Mayor and two City Council Members in Westwood, and the local Shawnee Mission School Board has some hotly-contested races. But possibly the most contentious race is for Water District One.

I’m not kidding: the Water District. Climate change and concerns raised by failures in Flint, MI and Newark, NJ have ignited a very active ballot. Think water isn’t important? Try doing without! Yes, Local elections make a big difference to local quality of life. Will you vote? Let your voice be heard!

Here's another pair of quotes to urge you to vote. George Jean Nathan says, "Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don't vote," and George Carlin says, "If you don't vote, you lose the right to complain."

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Country Living and “15 Voting Quotes that will Make you Proud to be an American” for the quotes from Thomas JeffersonSusan B. AnthonyGeorge Jean Nathan, and George CarlinThe quote from Tip O’Neill is courtesy of Jacobs Media Strategy. Thank you very much, to both!

Not perfect yet

The Artdog Images of Interest

In a perfect world, everyone would work at jobs they love, reach their full potential, and have a good life. If that sounds like socialist pie-in-the-sky to you, double-check your Kool-Aide. I’m paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

Unfortunately, we’re not perfect yet. We weren’t in 2001 when Mike Konopacki drew the cartoon above, and we’re not perfect now, either. We still have people who work hard at one or more jobs (if they can find them), yet still have no choice but to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. In my opinion, raising the minimum wage is a social justice issue.

I know the arguments against raising the minimum wage. We hear them each time the question gets raised. The Cato Institute lists the four most common ones, which I have listed below. I’ve also listed the Department of Labor’s answers to these objections, which are called myths on its “Minimum Wage Mythbusters” page.


1. It would result in job loss, because employers would cut back on employees. Not true, says the DOL page. Research shows “increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”


2. It would hurt low-wage employees, because because employers would cut back on employees. Not true, says the DOL page: “Minimum wage increases have little to no negative effect on employment as shown in independent studies from economists across the country.”


3. It would have little effect on reducing poverty, either because employers would cut back on employees, or because most poor people don’t make the minimum wage. Not true, says the DOL page, citing a survey of small business owners who say an increase “would immediately put more money in the pocket of low-wage workers who will then spend the money on things like housing, food, and gas. This boost in demand for goods and services will help stimulate the economy and help create opportunities.”

4. It might result in higher prices for consumers, because some prices have gone up in the past. While some prices might indeed go up, the DOL page categorically states that it would not be bad for the economy: “Since 1938, the federal minimum wage has been increased 22 times. For more than 75 years, real GDP per capita has steadily increased, even when the minimum wage has been raised.” In other words, prices go up all the time, whether the minimum wage does or not. 


Side question: if raising the minimum wage is a bad idea, isn’t the recent upward trajectory in CEOs’ compensation also a bad idea? Just asking.


As someone who has taught in a high-poverty school, I’ve seen what happens to families when there is not enough money to make ends meet. Students’ health, ability to learn, and many other areas of need aren’t met, either. There is often hunger, and there can be homelessness.

These kids’ parents weren’t lazy. It amazes me, how often rich people think the poor are lazy. I suspect they’re mistaking resentful for lazy. Most of the poor folks I’ve known worked several jobs, postponed their own health care to take care of their kids’, went hungry so their kids could eat, and worried a lot.

It’s not exactly the picture Thomas Jefferson painted, is it?

IMAGES: Many thanks to the Workplace Justice Project, for the Mike Konopacki “Poverty” cartoon, to The Times of San Diego, for the photo of workers marching for higher wages, and to We Party Patriots, for the Rick Flores cartoon about wages. 

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