I admit it. I fear for the United States. The elegant, high-minded Constitution, with its soaring guarantees of individual liberty and its careful curbing of government power, is under attack by many people.
My unease began when Republican Sen. John McCain joined with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in forwarding the proposition that politicians should limit, control and regulate free speech about public officials - especially before elections.
McCain, who lost liberty completely as a prisoner of war, with no more understanding of or respect for the First Amendment than his captors did!
I was astonished when Republican President George W. Bush signed the damned thing and free speech became government-regulated speech - this on the basis of the claim that he who spends most always wins, which simply isn't true.
Voters are smarter than politicians give them credit for - or perhaps want them to be.
The First Amendment says:
"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."
This assertion that the American government is not supposed to have the power to control what Americans say survived in the end only by a 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case.
(The speech suppressionists had contended that Americans should lose their free speech rights if they have money or join together with others.)
Now the nation is engaged in a great civil war testing whether the Second Amendment to the Bill of (individual) Rights means what it says:
"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."
Americans are justifiably outraged by another mass murder by another deranged individual. But some politicians seek not to curb deranged individuals, but to decide what law-abiding citizens need and should be allowed to have for their own self-defense.
It's an illogical proposition, and it reveals motive.
We should all know more about what led to the obscenity at Sandy Hook before we start chipping away at the Second Amendment.
Then there was CBS "Sunday Morning" with this intro: