Reblogged from Sinking Ark:
First, read this story here.
What do I mean by post-constitutional? Well, think of our present day not as the end of history – which is too easy to do – but rather a point on a continuum which future citizens of America will look back on with perfect hindsight and say, “Well, why did they make that stupid decision? It was obviously going to lead to [insert terrible circumstances here].” This is the point in history when we decided to relegate the constitution – the foundational law of our land and the document that embodies our cultural idealism – to historical edifice.
I frequently find myself playing devil’s advocate with myself, saying: “Am I being too over the top here? Too sensationalist?” Unfortunately, in this case I strongly believe the answer is no.
The debacle in Ferguson has not by any means abated, and yet it has dissolved from the public’s mind as the media decides to focus on more immediately-recent matters, such as elections, etc. Because remember all the way back to August requires a type of focus that isn’t entirely profitable. There is, however, a shocking new tale to tell in the Ferguson story. This week, the associated press obtained recordings proving that officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) purposefully created a no-fly zone over the Ferguson riots specifically to keep media out.
I very highly suggest you read the story in its entirety here, and ponder its implications, perhaps before you venture on to my perspective below.
I have written a fair amount on the Ferguson protests, as well as the heinous and purposeful crimes committed by the Ferguson police force to prevent the press from exercising its 1st Amendment right. What is so disturbing about this new Associated Press story is that we now have evidence that a federal government organization colluded, in secret, to suppress media coverage of a story deemed threatening to the political class, thereby unilaterally, and without judicial review, overturning the 1st amendment of the Constitution. These were no mere rogue cops: this was planned by higher ups. None have been punished, thereby setting the precedent: the 1st amendment is no longer a protection guaranteed to American citizens.
For a review, here’s the 1st Amendment in its entirety:
“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.”
I’ve set in bold the phrases relevant to this particular discussion. The people of Ferguson, obviously, were not allowed to peaceably assemble. Freedom of the press is that critical defense that protects the right of journalists to hold the government accountable when they break laws and commit crimes against their citizens. Make no mistake: what the FAA did was criminal in the truest sense of the word. If the Constitution is the law of the land, then the federal government now feels that it is free to ignore it as convenient and, importantly, without expecting to be held accountable.
Ultimately, lack of accountability is the issue here. As more rights are violated and civil liberties dissolved, those responsible have seen absolutely no punishment for their crimes. When those who wield immense power, which had hitherto been checked and therefore restrained, recognize that restrictions and safeguards are failing, they then know that they can grab more even control without any negative consequences. This is the situation we find ourselves in today, and it heralds the beginning of a post-constitutional America, where we all pay lip service to a document that can be used by those in charge to stir up nationalistic fervor, but which has ultimately been rendered void, null and neutered as the institutions meant to uphold it fail.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident: over the last couple of years we’ve witnessed overt prosecution of the free press, clamp downs on attempts to assemble peacefully, and senior intelligence officials committing perjury about 4th amendment violations and being let off the hook.
Am I a cynic? Well, yes, but that’s besides the point. That a post-constitutional America is not only coming, but has already arrived, is not a pessimistic scare tactic. I’m just calling it as it is, and if our modern day society no longer reflects the values we were brought up on, and the ideals we were told America stood for, why should we continue to fool ourselves into thinking it still does? More importantly, if America’s foundation is no longer laid with a steadfast belief in the right of the individual, and the necessity to restrain government influence to protect his (or her) civil liberties, then how exactly do we define our culture, social ideals, and sense of national identity in a post-constitutional world? What does America now stand for?
Now, go back to playing angry birds, flipping through pinterest, and tweeting about your breakfast, and worry no longer about the failures of the institutions that our predecessors fought and died to build. After all, that requires effort, and there’s a new episode of The Voice on this week.