Notes from Hunter Creek

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, INFRINGING on the FREEDON of the PRESS, INTERFERING with the RIGHT to PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE, and to PETITION the GOVERNMENT for a REDRESS of GRIEVANCES. 

(Emphasis provided by Author).   

What a glorious Amendment, supporting the right of the people to choose their own religion and not having the government dictate a certain religion.

This was drafted and insisted on its conclusion by many of the “founding fathers”.  Of course the Puritans didn’t want the Anglican Church of  England established as the “State” religion. And the southern faction, made up of many agnostics and a few Unitarians, did not want to be forced into any one religious “isle”.     

The original writers envisioned “a wall of separation between church and state”.  Even today however, the Courts have not provided a lot of language laying out the precise boundary of this separation, and this section remains somewhat in dispute.       

In a series of 20th and 21st century Court decisions, speech rights were expanded significantly that covered all forms of political speech, anonymous speech, most campaign financing, and even a lot of forms of pornography. 

Commercial Speech is to be less protected by the First Amendment than political speech according to the U.S. Supreme Court.    

In NY Times  v.  United States, (1971) the Supreme Court further ruled that the First Amendment protects against any prior restraint such as pre-publication censorship.   

In addition the right of assembly granted by the First Amendment also provides protection for the Right of Freedom of association.     

Most legal and Constitutional scholars usually pick out the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment, prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, as the “bedrock” of the US Constitutional Amendments.     

A real, unfiltered free press is one of the most important safeguards against a tyrannical governor or government. It truly keeps us free, and that is why it is often referred to as the Fourth Estate, after the Supreme Court, Congress, and the President.  

Several western-style democracies do not officially recognize freedom of the press, such as Australia and Great Britain. However, English common law, although not codified in writing does recognize freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Trust me, in the 18th Century, most of the first 10 Amendments, especially No.1, were considered as radical doctrine.  If you go  back to the Magna Carta (Grand Charter), established by English nobles and knights in 1215 at Runnymede, England; there is a direct connection to the bill of rights. Most of the 64 clauses of the Magna Carta prohibited King John from seizing property without due compensation, as well as guaranteeing a jury trial by one’s “Peers.”  It also made some guarantees about complaints made to the king without reprisal (freedom of speech), etc, etc.   

 Note:  September 30th, finally got some rain. It was getting dry, wasn’t it? The creeks and rivers are all at their normal “very low” late September levels. 

I am observing a rookery of great blue herons on Hunter Creek. Their distinctive “caw” as they fly over my home gets the attention of my lazy hounds every time. 

I am also seeing less turkey vultures. You know what that means. Bald eagles will be arriving shortly.

My little flock of around six hummingbirds are still Ozark residents, as they hit their feeders hard this time of year prior to their 4-600 mile migration. 

This region of the Ozarks has lost another key figure and true “Ozark” character.  Theta Porter, almost age 92, a former teacher and owner/operator of Porter’s Cafe on South 5 Hwy. for decades, has left us. 

Theta was always community minded and quite astute, even in her later years, when it came to local and national politics. 

It won’t be quite the same traveling 5 Hwy. at Squires, and realizing that you can no longer pull over at Theta’s and order a fresh cup of brew, along with a delicious slice of apple pie.

Another grand kudos for the excellent journalism award recently earned by the Publisher of our grand little weekly newspaper, the Douglas County Herald.  Congratulations Sue Curry Jones. Your daddy would  or is right proud, I imagine. 

I am going to hazard a guess that to report on the business of government, such as county commissions, city council business, and the voluminous decisions made by the local school boards, is not such an easy job in a small place like Douglas County.  But this is what all good newspapers do.  I promise you that more than anything else, it helps to keep us FREE and INFORMED.

Now, get up and go enjoy our beautiful Ozarks outdoors!