Civic Liberties Wednesday Political Science 10-18

A couple of things. Today I will go into some rules of writing essays, 1, and 2, Iíll finish up on civil liberties as far as we can get. I may need a little more time to finish it up because Monday is our scheduled time for review. 3, the exam is Wednesday. We talked a little bit about it and weíll talk more. And 4, I have been able to swipe from our reporter here who has been kind enough to give me the disk because they were not covered well up there. I am hoping I can get them up online tonight or tomorrow. And I have two of them now. So the others should be up probably before the exam in any case. So you can at least check out the civil liberties.
I got an interesting email from a student in my Tuesday-Thursday class, who was panic stricken and stressed out about the exam, which from my perspective, is good. I am a firm believer in stress. This concept of being relaxed is ridiculous. You have to be stressed.
Because thereís a problem with stress for some people. They cop out, pop out, drop out and they become failures. Thatís life. People that function with stress and accomplish and achieve are happier in the long run. Ignorance is bliss. Iím sermonizing here which I promised you I would do from time to time. And basically I told him or her that.
But one of the things that panicked the person was the fact that I lectured without notes. And that was really strange. That that would be something that got the person stressed out. Because her feeling that not everyone is like you and remember all of this stuff and not everybody can get a good exam so please tell us what the questions will be. Nope. Because I believe in stress. But more so as I said, I also believe that an exam should be a learning experience and where you can use the material and synthesize the material, you can analyze the material and on top of that, in some ways, it should be for the instructor. What does that mean? Am I grading myself? Within limitations. I learn when I covered, not from the poor students, I donít learn anything from them, but from the good students I learned where I screwed up and I can improve that and thatís part of it. In other words in an indirect way it is an evaluation of what the instructor presents and should be. And any other instructor that tells you differently I donít consider them to be good instructors.
Iíll give you the word list for memorization within limitations, weíll go over them. Most of you wonít ask me questions with anything dealing with the essay which is half of the exam. The word list is easy. If I gave you the questions ahead of time youíd prepare them and memorize them in the same way you do with words. It doesnít show me you learned anything. It doesnít show me how bright you are. Well, you shouldnít be grading us on our brightness. Bullshit. This is not kindergarten where everybody is equal and we bring everyone down to mediocrity. This is college, that is why your here and candidly, college has two factors. One you have to be bright to get throughĖat least thatís the old tradition, and two, you have to survive the stress.
Now I donít intentionally add stress to your life besides picking on you and making wise-ass remarks, and hopefully that is not done intentionally, it is not meant to put you down. I think some of you take things I say too seriously and I try to avoid that. I donít want to offend anyone. But the fact is that is what the exam will be about. If youíre not stressed and youíre relaxed, youíre in trouble, I think on any exam. So keep that in mind.
A person will say, but I have two other courses. Well that isnít a big schedule to me. Most of you are taking four courses minimum, some 5 and some 7. I donít know how people handle that, to tell you the truth. And it is like anything else, I have found and I think that many of you have, that sometimes when youíre busier, you get more things done because you donít procrastinate as much.
So Iím giving a little sermon here before we start in how to write an essay question because I just got that letter last night.
Now as far as being able to lecture without notes, if that means Iím brighter than you, I would reject that. Oh, okay Iím brighter than some of you because some of you are dumb. But for most of you, no. What does that mean? Iím sorry if youíre the one that got insulted by the fact that I called some of you dumb, I donít want to insult you. But you know who you are.
Yeah what do you do with a person that has an inferiority complex thatís really inferior? Send them to a counselor that tells them how superior they are. Then they go out and theyíre still inferior. Theyíll find something to do in life. So if you wanted to work at McDonaldís, go ahead, but most of you can achieve far beyond that.
The fact is that Iíve been teaching this course for many years. Obviously that provides me with some of the input I have in my hard drive, so it makes it easier than having to use notes, and obviously I keep up on the material which makes it easier and it has nothing to do with intelligence. In graduate school I learned that fast. The first course I took for my Ph.D. was in the Baltic history. I donít know how many of you know where the Baltic Sea is. No?
>>Northern Europe.
I was just picking on you. What country are you from? One of those landlocked ones?
Why did I take it? It sounded interesting. Donít ask me why. It had nothing to do with any major that I was in. Baltic History, that sounded like fun. I walked in that class and everybody but me had a European accentĖRussian, Polish, Danish, or Swedish. And Iím saying, what the hell am I doing there? You know how people with accents when they speak and drop names in books they sound brilliant and they scared the hell out of me. I worked ten times as hard in that class because I had none of that background and in that history and I didnít come from that area. I got an A and most of them dropped out of the class, but yet they knew the literature, they knew the books. So once again if you think youíre going to go through this exam without working, forget it. Maybe you got away with that before. One student said to me Monday night, gee, I didnít do my first interfaces because I thought you would be like my high school instructor and let me get by for awhile. I didnít ask him what high school. No. Youíre in college now. Iím sorry. And while I may not agree with some of professors here-- Heís wearing an NYPD shirt today. Did you lend him his shirt?
>>My sister just got back from New York.
Well, you were here when I hassled her.
>>I didnít think you noticed.
It took me a little while but only because his turban was in the way. Of course I noticed, what donít I notice. I donít always say what I notice.
So, presidential debates-- just a fast thing. In the sense it was the best one. Because--anybody see it?-- Yeah, they were allowed to walk around. They finally got animated.
I think, no, I donít think, I know, that when they allow people to ask questions, theyíre far better and theyíre much more directed then when those commentators do and they have to respond better to it. So, I think that is the only format and interestingly, I donít think I mentioned this, but the other night I had CNN on, and they ran the debate between Bush and Clinton and Perot in Ď92 and it had that same format and that was a much more exciting approach than any of the debates so far, and even more so than last night. But at least last night had more interest for me than the other two. The other two were worthless, well the other three including the vice-presidential debate. So it is that element and again if I wanted to take it on Iíd tie all things to democracy and my faith in people and democracy. Weíll get into that.
One other thing I want to mention. All right, God I donít know how many years ago now, maybe 10 or 15, I got into my teacher mode. That is a mode that doesnít deal with being a college professor, it deals with deciding that you want to help students. College professors donít give a damn about helping students. They send in their TAs. Did I tell you my sonís English instructor at George Washington University is from Bulgaria and doesnít speak English? He has to stop all the time to think of words. This is so typical college when they bring these people in at university level. But we are a teaching institution here and I was very concerned about the horrible essays I was getting, and so I said, well, I have to do something about it. Iím not saying that the essays have gotten a lot better since I decided to do something about it, but at least I donít feel as guilty. Because I have tried to direct you and help you in how to write an essay. As I said before I am firmly convinced and I suspect I will be until I get burned out on teachingĖthen Iíll start talking about how terrible the students are, how stupid they are, how they have gone downhill since the Roman Empire. But at this juncture I am convinced that most of you can do far better on your essay exams than youíre doing and was convinced at that time.
So I said to myself, why was I able to write an essay? Iím bright, but so are you, most of you, and why could I do it and so I began to analyze the essays that I was getting in the context of the essays that I wrote and I found some commonalties. I decided that were those that made the difference between good grades and really lousy ones. In just writing, not just knowledge. It has to do with an ability to be able to write an essay. And thatís something that some of you lack, perhaps while maybe you have been taught some of these things it has not sunk it or you donít think about it when youíre writing it. So these are my five guideline rules for writing essays--I added one, so now there is six. I want you to note that weíre not talking about writing an English paper. Some English instructors might agree with me. Some may have a heart attack hearing what I have to say. This is not an English paper. Iím sure there is someone on the college level that teaches another social science class that grades you on grammatical structure and your spelling. I never had anybody on my college level grade me on that except in English.
In any case, the first rule that I came up with is so obvious Iíve mentioned it before, more than once, but it is the one that screws people up more than any other. I donít know why.
The first rule is read the question. Read the questions carefully. I canít repeat that enough times.
The vast majority of people who mess up, who know the material, mess up because they answer a question the instructor doesnít ask. It is near nigh impossible to grade an essay answer to a question you were not asked. And thatís important.
So how do you know you screwed up? Well, you probably donít because you wouldnít. So the thing to do is be prepared-- the old boy scout motto. Meaning-- read it and say to myself am I interpreting this right? What does he mean by this or what might he mean, and if youíre not sure you got it right, ask me. Granted, I can screw it up, Iíve done it at least once, and in those contexts I might use words that you donít know and I donít mean to do that. Some words that are common for me are not common for most of the students. Ask me.
Itís better to be embarrassed that you didnít know it than to flunk the exam. Embarrassment you can live with but failure your parents will dock you or put you on restriction.
However, thereís a bigger problem with reading the question and not understanding it, itís reading into it.
Sometimes you go home and you decide, and some good students do this, but they try to figure out what the instructor is going to ask, what the question is going to be on, and then they come up and say this is what I think heíll ask. They study it and prepare that concept. And then they come to school, they come to school and they say I knew that guy was going to ask that. But itís not really what they asked, but itís what you wanted them to ask, because thatís what you studied.
So you answer this question youíve prepared which may not have anything to do with the actual question I asked. So in a sense, I think I had it happen in my Western Civic class. The question dealt with civilization and it is a world civilization. Itís western civ with world background and the question that I posed asked the world civ element of explaining how the development of civilization took place in India and in China. The student did an outstanding job on the development of the history of the beginning of Chinese civilization. However instead of using India, they used ancient Egypt. I donít know why. The student doesnít know why. Except that we spent a lot of time on Egypt and she studied Egypt and didnít know she did it. By the way she did a beautiful job on Egypt which frustrated me. If she only answered only half of my questions that is 50%. If she did the China perfectly the best grade I can give her is an F. Because I tend to be a pussycat, I gave her a D- but in reality, I know that sounds bad, in reality I have to be fair to myself and fair to the whole concept of other students. I have to grade what is there based on the question. Thatís gonna happen. Why it happens, I donít know. If there are two parts to a question, one be sure you deal with both parts and 2, be sure youíre dealing with both parts that were asked because if you only answer one part, youíve lost 50 percent.
What happens is students spend a lot of time on the first part and they never get to the second part. That is not good either. You have to budget your time.
I donít actually put a time limit of the exam. Although it is designed for 50 minutes, there are always a few students that want more time. But if they need more than that, I donít care. I want you to do the best and feel you have at least gotten in what you wanted to. And the reason why, is I honestly appreciated my teachers that allowed me to spend more time and especially in my history classes because I was a crammer. That didnít mean I didnít do some reading in the semester, but I was one of those over-achievers that got stressed out, and stayed up all of the time and learned as much as I could. And once I learned it, I wanted to get rid of it, it was cluttering my data bank, so I wrote it down on the paper so I could get it out of my head. So I wrote a lot and I was happy they gave me the time, so you get the same option because I appreciated it.
It has 3 parts. You have to deal with 3 parts and think about that while you write it. We give you two examples of screw-ups by students in large numbers. One you guys did in part and the other was on the exam where I gave the question do you believe in democracy, explain. Remember? I mentioned that are more than half the class screwed up because they responded to whether they believed the United States was a democracy, which was not the question. One of the things to keep in mind is that I donít make my questions extremely specific, they tend to be fairly general.
And therefore what you have to do is get out of tunnel vision. You have to open up your peripheral vision and see where things are coming from all over, rather than simply gazing down the narrow path with blinders on.
And the other one was on your interfaces when many of you took the question on the bicameral legislature and put on your tunnel vision and only answered about the federal legislature. Not thinking about even though you know that California also has a bicameral legislature and whether you knew that 49 states that are not is something different. So you do have to open up your eyes to writing a question.
Any questions on my first rule-- read the question?
Hopefully you will. That is all I can do is warn you.
Rule 2. Something you have been told since kindergarten and something only five percent of you do, I donít know why. You have been told and you know what to do yet you donít and it is screwing you royally. Write an introduction. Is there anybody who has not heard that? I didnít think so. Yet despite the fact that you can regurgitate, spit out at me what an introduction is supposed to have in it, why in the hell donít you do it?
Iíll explain why you should do it in a minute. But most of you think that an introduction is one sentence but that doesnít cover what youíre supposed to put in an introduction. What do you put in an introduction?
Summary of what you want to write. Youíve learned the big wordĖthesis-- youíll tell me what youíre going to tell me. If you write one sentence as an introduction what does that say? Not a hell of a lot, right? Pretty simple.
So if youíre going to write a decent introduction youíll have to tell me a lot. What else? Take the question, do you believe in democracy. Explain. What else do you put in there?
>>Define democracy.
Youíll have to define the basics of democracy which youíll expand on later in principles and practices because any key word in the question should get a basic definition which youíll expand on. What else?
>>Whether you believe in it.
It sounds so simple. Every time I ask a question like that I would say half the people donít say yes or no or maybe. Am I grading on your belief? Of course not. Iím grading you on your material but to develop the question correctly you should be telling me which way youíll approach it and yes no or maybe in this case. And then that saves me from trying to figure it out when Iím reading.
The other element of a good introduction. You tell me what youíre going to tell me, your belief, and you have two good paragraphs; why is that important? For most instructors reading so many essay questions gets to be a chore and sometimes itís almost annoying, so we love, and Iím not talking me, Iím talking all, we love good introductions because we can read the two paragraphs very carefully. Youíve told me what youíre going to tell me and the background and then I can read the rest of the 5 pages youíve written by just going down and looking to see if you put the stuff in. I donít have to read it word for word and I get it done and I can see if you answered it and grade it without going into every word. But if there is no introduction I have to read it, five pages word for word and that takes me a lot of time and thatís a pain in the butt and by that time Iím pissed. The papers I like the most are the papers Iím going to get from a few of you where you write nothing and turn in blank essays, or write two sentences. I love those because then I give a big F and donít have to go further. I got one last night. The online course had a take-home. They have to have it in by a specific deadline. The kid turns it 48 minutes late. I shouldnít say kid, heís not a kidĖheís one of these whiners. And Iím deciding whether or not Iíll be nasty and give an exception, but I hate being literal, even though I warned them it had to be in by midnight. And then I open it up. Remember he had a week to do this and he turned it in 48 minutes late and two essay questions are written in one paragraph.
Everybody else wrote 20 or 30 pages. He wrote one paragraph. And at that point I said you know I wonít give him an F, now Iíll tell him, and be nasty, that Iím not accepting the paper because it came in late just to put the knife in. It is called New York revenge. If it was 20 pages long I probably would have accepted it and broken the bind and been pissed at myself, but this saved my butt.
I could stay with my convictions-- just to let you know how teachers think, in case you didnít know this. Can you answer a question like that in a paragraph? No. So why do you bother trying? Iíll explain that in a minute. So the introduction becomes important. Any questions on writing an introduction?
Rule 3--Repeat yourself.
English instructors donít like that. Tell me over and over again what youíre telling me. When I say repeat yourself it doesnít mean with the same words. Good essay writers have an ability and itís easy to do, to say things over again, just like good teachers. We say things over again in the hopes that if you missed it the first or second or third time youíll get the forth time because maybe weíll wake you up, and maybe you woke up and maybe stopped dreaming about what you did last night. But we want to instill it into you.
And the same thing, as I already indicated, if teachers are reading the essays fairly rapidly and even if theyíre making comments, the more you begin to explain what your saying again and again the better opportunity there is for the instructor to understand what youíre saying or to see what youíve said. So it becomes important to repeat yourself. Iíve just repeated myself, God knows how many times, although it came out in numerous contexts. So take an essay question; do you believe in democracy? Yes I do. Democracy is government of the people. Demos means people, ocracy means government, it was the Greek term and therefore to believe in democracy I have to believe in people. If I didnít believe in democracy I couldnít believe in people, because as I indicated democracy means government of the people. And therefore it is my faith in people that starts out my conviction that democracy is vital to society, to good government and explains my belief in democracy. So Iím going to develop my essay around the concept of my faith and belief in people as the basis of democracy and I will expand on the principles and the practices of democracy all directed around that basic definition of democracy which is belief of government by the people and my faith in people.
Not hard to do, hard to copy down. Anyone of you can BS like that. It is just that youíre afraid to or your not sure how to or that you should. You damn well can, that is the way to do it. Thatís what makes good essay writers for, not English papers necessarily, although Iím not sure thatís not good for an English paper candidly.
And was that two sentences? I said more and that would have been more than that person gave me after a weeksí worth with the one paragraph.
Any questions on rule 3? Repeat yourself.
Rule 4-- Please remember that the instructor is stupid. S-T-U-P-I-D. You all say it, God damn stupid instructor.
Meaning something again youíve been told? What?
Clarify and define. Donít assume that the instructor knows anything. You always say they donít know what the hell theyíre talking about. So obviously just because I thought it does not mean that I know that you have learned it so even if those words are basic, anarchy or democracy, and you think everybody knows the meaning, Iím sorry, you need to show me. I learned that my first years in teaching, usually I give you a couple of throwaways in the identification just so you get five points, even though there are people that get zero, and the question I posed as an identification was Benjamin Franklin.
The student wrote, "He was the first American President and he freed the slaves."
Okay, so now I know why I canít assume that you know. Where has this person been all of their life? By the way, it was not an immigrant or somebody new to the United States. He had gone to American High School and graduated from American High School, which may explain it.
Who went to American High here? Everybody picks on American, donít they?
So, explain it.
Rule five-- BS
Bullshit--And have the runs.
What does that mean? Does that mean putting anything down that is acceptable that will help? No. Thereís what we call bullshit and bullshit. The bright good students,
and Iím not sure I can teach this candidly, I think this has to do with intelligence. I canít prove it.
Bright students have a unique ability to BS academically. They can take anything they learn and somehow make it apply to the subject showing you theyíre attempting to answer the question. Even though itís not directly related, they relate it. Thatís called synthesizing. A poor student who tries to BS may throw in material they have learned but it sticks out like a sore thumb. So theyíll take the chart and theyíll know that I said if the word democracy appears youíre supposed to analyze it in the context of the chart which will make it easy, you donít have to, and theyíll throw the chart in, theyíve memorized it and they leave it there. The good student will take the chart and be able to tie it to whatever the material is or at least attempt to make it tie even if they donít do a good job. They show the instructor 1, theyíve learned, and 2, they understand the question, and 3, theyíre trying.
Any questions on that?
Again, I donít think you can teach that. I think that is something that is innate and has to do with the ability to analyze. But itís something that you can work on because maybe more of you can do it if you were aware that you were able to do it.
6. Summarize it, conclude it. Tell me what you told me. Iím always amazed that after people tell me what they told me I finally realize what they told me but when I was reading it I never knew they were telling it to me, so it made no sense what they were telling me until they told me what they told me.
Any questions on the 6th rule?
>>Q. How long do you want the essay to be?
I donít read more than 35 pages. I love those that donít write any pages because then I can give them an F but between 0 and 35, thatís up to you.
I got a question from someone who is extremely literal in my poly online class and I made the same wise-ass response and she wrote back and said I read that you donít want more than 35 pages. Is that 35 pages for each question or 35 pages total, and she was serious. So I wrote back and said, no I was being a wise-ass. If you want to write 35 pages on each question go ahead.
Iím sorry. I donít want to confuse you. In the online class, since they donít have the same structure, what they have to do is answer 2 essay question-50 points a piece.
You will have a short answer where I choose 20 words and you will choose ten of them to identify, 5 points a piece, and then you have a choice of two essays. One that is more related to my lecture and my book. The other to tie it more to the other textbook, America at Odds. Once again as indicated 2 - 3 things, there are examples on the internet of the essay and the exam. Two, the lectures are there and hopefully this section will be up, and 3, you can obviously search out the word with a search engine or find within those lectures, but more so, this particular lecture where I went through the words and review, --oh, Iím sorry, not this one, Monday where Iíll go through the word list. That is up there. So that might help. It may not be the words youíre interested in. Those things are there. I go out of my way to give you the opportunity if youíre willing to spend the time. There is also a political dictionary and I found out in Ď96, Oxford put out a very fine political dictionary and I saw it yesterday and it is at Barnes & Nobles for $11.95.
Q. Since this textbook and the other one donít cover the same material, how should I study?
As I said, I try to give you a choice of questions. The trouble your confronting is that while there are similarities my book would be more usable for the lecture essay but the other book if I pull out a question and youíre not sure what I talked about because you couldnít remember what the four definitions of politics was and how to tie it to who rules and apply the elements of who rules, then you might decide to take the essay on federalism that came out of the America at Odds textbook that I didnít cover in class very well. So again, candidly, yes you can get away with it. I donít want to be one of those people that say no the only way youíll get a good grade isÖ We differ. But realistically, being an overachiever myself, I would not be satisfied and even if I didnít have the time, that I was at least fully prepared as I felt comfortable with and I feel youíre probably the same way too.
Letís go back to civil liberties. What is the last thing you have in your notes?
Bills of Attainder? Did I do forfeiture of blood yet? Yeah. So I must have dealt with all 5 of the areas that were covered in the original constitution.
To repeat, Ex Post Facto laws are not allowed. Bill of Attainder are not allowed. Forfeiture of blood in cases of treason are not allowed. Writ of habeas corpus cannot be suspended except in times of war, and then under direction of Congress. And then I mentioned that all states must have a trial by jury, and the point is that these were the only civil liberties that were spelled out in the body of the Constitution so that when we speak of civil liberties those that we hold dear, they are in reality in the Bill of Rights which is in reality the Bill of Liberties and most legal scholars refer to the first eight amendments as your bill of liberty and in a sense I might throw in the ninth. And Iíll explain why later, but while I agree that we call it a Bill of Rights the Tenth Amendment is not a liberty. It may be a right.
So weíll pick up with the Bill of Rights unless Iím wrong here. But I donít think so.
Sometimes like any of us we get annoyed at ourselves and sometimes I get annoyed at myself when I miss the obvious especially intellectually when I should have analyzed or seen something, and I get annoyed when I feel Iíve been deprived of that knowledge and instructors who should have projected it to me. And that is the case when it comes to the Bill of Rights as far as Iím concerned. It was many, many years after I was out of college that I understood what the Bill of Rights was about. I had no idea. Despite the fact that obviously taking history and political science course and being a major, something was lacking. Maybe the books have changed since then because it is in both books, but the concept is there. I grew up with the concept that the Bill of Rights was to preserve my basic liberty no matter where I was. The ones we always think of, free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and every other one. To me, the Bill of Rights was set up by the people because they would not have passed the Constitution because they were fearful that the central government was going to take away their rights. And partially I was correct. What I didnít comprehend and didnít understand and I donít think most of the people do, is that the Bill of Liberties did not prevent the states from violating your basic rights. The only thing that could prevent the states in 1789, the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791, it was introduced in 1789, the only thing that prevented the state from doing it was the state constitution. Am I saying that a state could have taken away your freedom of speech and assembly? Yes. Could they have forced you to join a religion? Yes. A state religion because this was not prevented at all in the Bill of Rights and again thatís something that I didnít understand.
In 1833 in a Supreme Court decision, Baron v Baltimore, basically what came out was that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states that have the Bill of Rights only apply to the Federal government. That should have made all the sense in the world and to everybody. It did. It was obvious for a couple of reasons. First of all, the reason to introduce the Bill of Rights is that the people in the states and the states themselves were fearful of a centralized autocratic government. They were fearful of an oppressive government. Why? Because they just broke away from England, the attack on King George, they didnít want another central government coming in and they didnít trust them and we still donít trust central government. Bush has been playing to that like crazy. Goreís biggest fault in some ways is that he hasnít countered the argument that heís in favor of big government directly enough to say that he also believes in decentralization just because heís been tied to Washington. Americans have traditionally hated big government. But the other thing that should be so obvious that it is not directed to the states is the wording especially of the First Amendment. The First Amendment says, Congress shall make no law. It doesnít say the states can. It says Congress and your federal legislature. Congress shall make no law to infringe upon your free speech, freedom of the press, your freedom of assembly and your freedom from religion and of religion and note it includes freedom from religion and it includes the right to petition government without grievance. It doesnít say the states canít, and so in our history, states had prayer in the school, states had organized religion, where sometimes they required you in the early years to be part of a specific religion to hold office, but it couldn't be done by the federal government because Congress wasnít allowed to. And in 1833 that was Baron v Baltimore. So what has happened? Why canít we pray in school? Let me restate that. You can pray, most of you will next Wednesday. But I canít say to you letís get down on your knees and pray to the almighty shlepnick religion or whatever because that is an establishment of religion. Prayer is allowed even in schools when it is organized by students. For example, every year thereís a prayer session around the flagpole in the schools. You know they have this big penis sticking in the air - sort of the true God. I have not figured that one out. But that is allowed because the instructors have not said get out there. It is organized and legitimately so and fine by me.
The change that now says that those freedoms apply to the states came into being because of an amendment to the Constitution. If that amendment had not occurred the states could still require prayer in the school. By the way I might note that while it is prohibited to have prayer in the school and football games, and kill the other team, whatever, organized, the fact is that adults are allowed to have ministers or priest or whatever to lead prayer sessions before a meeting, and yes, that sounds like a contradiction, but the reason behind it is that the Supreme Court has felt that when it comes to imposing the will on children, it has too much of an impact on their lives and perhaps their mental growth, whereas adults can handle the pressure because they know their mind as far as religion and attitude. That will explain why Congress can have a prayer before each opening, but the school canít because it is impressionable children and they are less willing to put those kind of restrictions on the student than they will in elementary school.
After the Civil War three amendments to the Constitution were passed, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth. Ban slavery, integrate blacks into American society, and to give them full citizenship rights.
In 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment, which was one of the three, was passed.
However in 1925, the Supreme Court took an element of that 14th Amendment and looked at it and examined in the context of the Bill of Rights. Thatís many years later, and some people question whether itís really there in the Fourteenth. Of course I go into my book, itís referred to as incorporation and then we talk about selective incorporation. Using the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court incorporated the principles of the Bill of Rights into the states, but they did it one by one. In 1925 the Supreme Court case was Gitlow v New York, and the issue was free speech. He lost the case but the Supreme Court said that states have to provide free speech because of the Fourteenth Amendment, because of the principle in the First Amendment, but only free speech. This is why one by one most of the Bill of Rights become incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment was made applicable selectively. Almost all of the Bill of Rights in different court cases between 1925 and 1973. Not all at once. Now some people have argued it should have been done all at once and others argue it shouldnít have been done at all. What were the words? Well interestingly thereís a couple of areas there. The Fourteenth Amendment has two areas that in a sense could be applicable. One they use definitively. One area in the Fourteenth says that no state, notice states are here now spelled out, can infringe on the privileges and immunities of its citizens. One could argue that speech free speech, is a privilege and immunity. But in reality they took a second part, the issue of due process of law. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, one of the original Bill of Rights, says that you cannot have your life, liberty, or property taken from you without due process of law. The Fourteenth says, states, notice same wording, but they added states, cannot take away your life, liberty, and property from you. Which proves that the original Bill of Rights was not designed for the states and again underlines the fact that there is no legitimate right to bear arms unless it became incorporated because it was not designed for the people in the states.
>>Q. Is that because they wouldnít ratify it?
No, they were fearful of the federal government. There was an amendment sent by James Madison to Congress but it never got through. The states didnít want restrictions by the federal government. That amendment said that the states canít stop free speech, it said free expression, but it meant free speech.
That was never passed because the states didnít want the central government infringing on it. They just wanted the central government stopping itself. So the Fourteenth Amendment was used because the word "state" was there and they decided that life and liberty, especially liberty, included free speech, and therefore states could not take away your free speech. And in later court decisions from 1925 until 1973 most of the Bill of Rights was included in, and Iíll go one by one through the Bill of Rights to let you know which ones have been incorporated. In other words, which ones the states can violate, which principles in those first eight amendments the states can violate because of court cases based on the Fourteenth. You donít have freedom of speech then because of the First Amendment. When you hear people say the state stopped me and violated my First Amendment right, they didnít violate your First Amendment. In a sense they violated your Fourteenth Amendment right because it was brought into the state through the Fourteenth through the incorporation of it.