Independence Day


It was 232 years ago, on July the 2nd actually, that these United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain. While there are no surviving records of the speeches given on that day, someone did put up a YouTube video from HBO’s ” John Adams” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7Y1ougODMo (a DVD set and book I highly recommend) of what John Adams might or may have said. There are written recollections of his speech, but also debate about how accurate this version is.

But going through some of Mr. Adams quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_adams.html among other sites, it’s probably not too far off. But here is a direct quote from the man himself, in one of the many letters he wrote to his wife Abigail, ( from the book “John Adams” by David McCullough) ” The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

Below are portions of the Declaration of Independence (minus the list of grievances), mostly written by Thomas Jefferson. In many ways, this day we celebrate should also be sort of a Thanksgiving Day. These brave men deserve our thanks for doing what few would probably do today. They deserve our thanks for in essence signing their death warrant by their involvement with this document and rebellion ( Benjamin Franklin: ” We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately“). They deserve our thanks for ” doing things not because they are easy, but because they are hard“, to paraphrase another Massachusetts president, John F. Kennedy.

We read and talk of history.They wrote it. They lived it, every day. In our busy, everyday lives, how often do people stop and contemplate what these patriots did to make much of what we take for granted possible? When they vote? On the 4th Of July? When they visit a location of historical importance? Maybe never for some. Or worse, perhaps it’s looked at as a bygone era with quaint customs, documents, and proclamations – only worthy of filing away, rewriting, or reinterpreting. This infliction knows no party affiliation. And apathy is not a suitable excuse.

So, enjoy the document below, and think of how it could apply in today’s world. Also consider it when you hear people whine that ” the political races are too long and/or start too soon“. For some of us, there is no end, there is no beginning. There just is.

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When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.


That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, having its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.


But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient suffrance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.


Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.


We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Freedom of Speech, Unless You Teach

Attached is an image of the Bill Of Rights. I know, some of you have to turn your heads or cover your ears and yell “la la la la”, but here, in part, is the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”
How might this apply to the recent story of a Longmont teacher under fire? (Daily Times-Call 3/23/07 ” Global warming on trial“) The newspaper was exercising their “freedom of the press”, also part of the First Amendment, in reporting the story. The students were expressing their freedom of speech, in a lively debate and mock trial on this issue. The teacher and CSU student aide were expressing their freedom of speech and agreed that they presented both sides equally. The teacher even explained his neutrality in the classroom on the subject to a parent. So far so good.

The teachers freedom of speech, apparently, has its limits. Even though he threw in the disclaimer ” What I think is not the issue. It’s what the students dig up and how they present the case“, it was the following statement that got all of the attention: ” I don’t believe in Darwinism…” First thoughts that came to my mind were the lines from a song:” I don’t believe in Bible / Jesus / Kings / Elvis / Kennedy.” To many, these words are inspired, enlightened phrases, and artists should be protected enough to utter such things freely. Others may find these words, dare I say, religious or spiritual, equally worthy of encouragement and protection. The above citizen was exercising the full range of his First Amendment rights. But this was British subject, non US Citizen (at that time), John Lennon. A true genius, but not a PhD, and definitely not a grade school teacher. Double standard? But I digress.

With that one comment, this teachers detractors pounced and threw out the baby, the bathwater, the bathtub, and the bathroom. The vitriol is beyond belief as it’s escalated way past civil disagreement. Are these detractors First Amendment rights covered when it drifts into libel and slander? I won’t repeat some of the vile namecalling and attacks on this teacher and his family, you’ll just have to trust me or look it up yourself. Oddly, these are the same people that usually scream the loudest for their right of freedom of speech, but you better not disagree with them. I’ll also point out that much of this started before the second article ran (Daily Times-Call 3/27/07 ” Debunking Darwin“), where the teacher probably sent these people right over the edge.

The attack then switched to a book (and its cover art) the teacher wrote totally outside and separate from his school work. “District standards” (an oxymoron worthy of another discussion) being what they are, make it pretty clear what can and cannot be taught in our government schools. Has there been any evidence that this teacher has brought his outside opinions into the classroom? Appears that he’s gone pretty far not to bring his beliefs into the teaching environment. Which brings us back to the First Amendment. Above and beyond these so-called district standards, after covering the material required, are teachers barred from exercising any First Amendment rights? Namely speech and religion? Don’t give me the “wall of separation” nonsense, unless you can find that in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights (you can’t, it’s not there).

The question is which example do we want taught to our children: Keep your mouth shut and follow the rules no matter if they’re fair or just? That only certain free speech is acceptable (not including yelling “fire” in a theater of course)? Or that you should get multiple sides to the story, question and debate, and draw your own conclusions? The last example is pretty close to what was reported in the 6th grade debate. It is ironic that this whole episode sprouted from the topic of global warming, only in that many call it the “new religion”. Or is that debate also closed for discussion?

Personally, I see a possible First Amendment battle in the making. If not here by this teacher, perhaps somewhere else with another one. First, harm has to be shown to get that ball rolling. Since this teacher is soon retiring, his firing is unlikely. Keep your eye on this subject, it’s far from over.