Since it's almost the 4th of July (or the 4th of July weekend is almost upon us) and since I spend a lot of time on this blog bitching about various states of affairs in American government and politics, I thought I would take today off to highlight a few of the things that I like about our country and which make me glad to be an American.
#1- Freedom of Speech- The First Amendment. I love it. It's what lets me get away with publicly saying things like George W. Bush probably has sex with pigs without being hauled off in handcuffs in the middle of the night. Seriously, though, freedom of speech, and more specifically the freedom to criticize our government without fear of reprisal is a really good thing and its value shouldn't be underestimated.
#2- The Fourth Amendment- I love this, too, but it's under fire. I'm glad that we live in a country where there are safeguards against the government coming into our homes (or, to a lesser extent, our cars or our person) in order to just arbitrarily search for evidence of criminal activity. I'm glad that the cops have to show probable cause before arresting us or raiding our homes. Once again, Americans take this right pretty much for granted, but ask the people of North Korea or Iran if they wish they had these kind of protections against the police, and you'll probably come to a whole new appreciation of our constitution. Combined with the 6th Amendment right to counsel and the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination, the 4th Amendment helps to set the cornerstones for our entire criminal justice system, and it provides some of the most important civil rights which criminal defense attorneys struggle to protect.
#3- Rock and Roll- It's not all about politics and goverment. Sure the Beatles, The Who, the Stones, and a lot of other rockers helped to perfect it, but it's an American-born creation (getting off the ground with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, and others), and it saved my soul. God bless rock. Long live rock and roll.
#4- Baseball- I never played baseball in any kind of a formal league, but I love watching it in the summer with a cold beer in my hand. It's a sport that somehow always seems kind of laid back, even during its most exciting games and moments. Everyone should take some time off this summer to go see a live baseball game(even if you don't consider yourself a fan). It's good for the soul.
#5- Movies- Okay, Hollywood may have become self indulgent and overblown, but America is still the place to go if you want to make big movies with big name actors and directors and expensive sets, makeup, special effects, and all of the other things that go along with producing large-scale cinema. Sure, a lot of stupid crap gets made, but Hollywood pretty much got the ball rolling on big-budget pictures and it still occasionally produces epic features on a scale that few places in the world can match.
#6- Jazz- It grew out of New Orleans Dixieland music and ragtime into an art form championed by Miles Davis and his progeny, but it never would have developed at all without African American blues and gospel music. Nowadays, it's celebrated around the world, but it started in the southern black community here in the good ol' U.S.A.
#7- Separation of church and State- Like freedom of speech, this also arises out of the First Amendment, but this right guarantees that our goverment should not impose any particular religion, nor should it adopt any particular religion as the official religion of the American goverment. This is the rule that our original colonists were looking for when they came to settle our country (after having been hounded relentlessly by the church-affiliated governments of their native country). Anyway, this rule makes it ok to have whatever religious beliefs that you want or even no religious beliefs at all. If you don't like this rule, I would refer you to the people of Afghanistan so that you might chat with them about what their lives were like under Taliban rule.
Well, that's it for now. There are other good things about our country, of course, but Steanso is tired. Happy 4th, everyone!!! Wish me luch in Port Aransas!
Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down today, and that scares the bejeezus out of me, but I don't even want to try to consider the ramifications today. I'm going to the beach!!!!