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It’s Constitutional… No it’s not…. Yes, it is…

There is quite a lot being said lately about what is one’s Constitutional Rights. These two words are being thrown about almost carelessly. Particularly with issues on the border with Mexico, Arizona’s current lawsuit involvement with the Federal government over immigration issues, and matters regarding the proposed ‘Ground Zero’ mosque, I have heard the word Constitutional used so frequently, I know that it is not likely that all of the people using the word ‘Constitutional’ have even read the entire document, much less comprehended any of it.
I decided to apply myself to reading the Constitution. After all, I am a programmer. I read technical books on how to tweak pre-compiled code using an intermediate language disassembler. I have read books on C# with great relish, musing at the differences between this language and C++, so how hard could the Constitution be? I decided to apply myself to reading it in the context of the issues impacting us today, the issues of the infamous mosque and the border issues. I jumped in reading. I did actually read it all, racing through certain sections about electoral processes. Having done that, I paused, of course, at Article I in the enumerated amendments. The Articles looked to me something like functions in a computer program. This first function provides you not only with the freedom of religion, but also the freedom of speech, and it’s logical that the two should go together. For, without the freedom of speech, you would certainly have no freedom of religion. I reflected for a moment that the very freedom that ostensibly gives one the right to build a building to practice a religion is the very same freedom that provides the opponents of this procedure with the right to speak in opposition. Remove the one freedom, and you would necessarily have to remove the other.
I found myself, again looking at this function like a programmer wondering whether this right was retrieved by value or by reference once the function was executed, and of course, the function is only executed when put to the test. We won’t worry about that yet. In order to achieve the appropriate context, I found that I had to go back to the very opening words of the Constitution. Though seldom cited with specificity in courts of law the Preamble is often glossed over, and, from what I understand, rarely used in courts to support or argue against a matter, I must say to this that I believe that this will change as more technologically minded people begin to appreciate and comprehend the writings.
This is where the Constitution reads,

“We the People of the United States, in Order to Form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I believe in legal, or at least traditional parlance this section is usually referred to as the Preamble. In Programming Parlance we would call this the ‘Declarations’ section. All of the references, tools, and global level variables you will use throughout the source will be found here.
I realized what the framers meant to do here. It is not only in this original statement that the rest of the source code must flow, but all of the rest of the words of the document, need to comply, in essence with these first words. They aren’t just a nice little introduction.
In other words, no matter what is said throughout the entire document it must be understood in the context of ‘The People of the United States’, it must be a proponent or necessary piece of the machinery that helps to form ‘a more perfect Union’, it must be a part of not only clarifying ‘Justice’ but establishing it, and it must in no way go against that. The objective contained needs to always work towards domestic Tranquility. That is the defined purpose and ultimate objective. If the authors had written, ‘to foster Debate, Conflict and Mayhem, for it is out of this that the growth of a truly mature society will come’, we would have quite a different Constitution, but the purpose and direction was clear. Allow me to continue, ‘to provide for the common defence’. Here we can see that the honorable and brilliant James Madison was listening to that illustrious and reverent Thomas Jefferson, perhaps looking over his shoulder at this juncture. We know that the securing of the National Defense was at the core of Jefferson’s intentions and thoughts. Indeed, he felt the Federal government should be strong in defending the people, borders, businesses, and commerce and land of the nation. He also felt that the Federal Government needed to be weak in just about every other area. (hence, the seeds of the animosity between Jefferson and Hamilton). I will continue, ‘to promote the general Welfare’. My, my, my… (and I almost never in my life have said, ‘My, my, my…) The general Welfare. Not the ‘specific’ Welfare of just one group, not the needs and ambitions and hopes of just one group, but, ‘the general Welfare.’ And we see this later in the constitution that the document states that no article, statement or right enumerated in the document can be construed as denying another right or guarantee. At that point, the document begins to reflect upon itself, as all good well-woven source code does. However, in the beginning the document is not reflecting upon itself.
You can not say that the Justice was meant, in a Civil sense, but not a military sense, or that it was Criminal Justice, but not emotional Justice, because at this point the document has just begun. It has no parameters or limits. We cannot say, that the Declarations (or Pre-Amble) are constitutional, or ‘unconstituional’ because, it is the Constitution. In other words, that global declaration, those first words subordinate themselves to no previous declaration. They are beholden only to their own continuity with each other, (as also Declarations of Computer Programs must be, rather unambiguous) and this Opening we find almost totally unambiguous.
I will continue, ‘and to secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity’. This is a phrase worth thinking about. Know this: Blessings are bestowed. They are by definition ‘transitive’, or in a programming sense they would be functions that provide a value. They do not exist in a vacuum. You would say, therefore, ‘I bless you, with this tractor.’ Or, ‘You have blessed me with this bread,’ or, ‘God has blessed us with rain. You would never say, with any sensibility or knowledge of how the word works, ‘I bless’ ‘Joe blessed!’ , or simply just, ‘Bless!’ Like it or not this little phrase must be fundamental to the entire framework of the document.. Lastly, ‘do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.’ In other words, all of the words that precede this are to be directed towards this, this ordination, and establishment. Interestingly, the ordination of it, or the anointing of the document precedes the completion of the building of it. Therefore, this is absolute incontrovertible reinforcement of the concept, that all of the words must absolutely agree with and flow from this initial Declaration, or the establishment would defy the anointing, which is, at first brief and conceptual.
So what do we have? We have words that tell us that though freedom of religion and speech are essential, obviously to say anything to anyone at anytime can not necessarily be done with impunity and immunity, because if it so exceeds the boundaries set by the Declaration or any other part of the Constitution, it may in fact be injurious or damaging to another party, and may in fact deny someone else of the fundamental purpose in this Declaration, i.e. justice, domestic tranquility, a common defense… The old example of, ‘One is not free to yell, ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater, if in fact there is no Fire, might well be heeded.
It was with this understanding that I began to realize, that the guarantee of Freedom of Religion, does absolutely guarantee that you can freely practice your religion anywhere at anytime. Yet, as is stated by the constitution, under the Amendments, Article IX: ‘The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.’ I love the word ‘enumerate’. Programmers use it frequently. This article, of course, must be appreciated in the context of the original very first declaration that I have been looking at. It is the global declaration. Future more technologically orientated generations will certainly see it that way. No doubt, for all of the reasons I have stated, James Madison and his fellows must have seen it that way.
Here is where I will state something alarming: the right to freedom of religion, while it does guarantee that you can freely practice your religion, does not (and I have shown you in two places in the Constitution, one global-> the Declaration and one local-> Article IX)… does not give a group the right to practice that religion in absolutely any way that they want in any locality. Likewise, there is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees that one should be able to build a building of one’s choosing anywhere one wants, one of course being an individual or a group of individuals. Local building ordinances alone can prohibit someone from building a building for a place of worship on a particular tract. Why? Proximity to toxic waste dumps, unstable ground, or the fact that the school building is attached to the Church and both are too close to a tavern or liquor store to satisfy a municipal ordinance. Does this deny a Constitutional Right? Usually, the ordinance is built, or established, with the ‘General Welfare’, ‘Tranquility’ and ‘Justice’ in mind.
I will now refer to items being passed by Value or By reference. This is important. If an item is passed by Value, the recipient will receive a physical copy of that item, a new item that represents the original. If it is passed by Reference, the recipient will have received the exact original item. So if I alter the item in any way, I change the original. Here’s the difference between ‘By Reference’ and ‘By Value’; It may seem counter-intuitive to you: If I have a grape arbor all of one big interconnected vine, and I cut a shoot from that vine, and successfully transplant it and it is genetically equal to the vine I possess, and I then give it to you, I have given it to you, ‘By Value’. If you destroy it, you haven’t destroyed my vine.
On the other hand, if your yard is next to mine and I tell you that you can train my vine to grow over your fence into your yard, and you then train it over a pergola, you really possess a vine, “By Reference’. It’s the same vine. Should you get mad and poison your vine, you will likely also poison my vine, because, they are really the same vine. That is, in a programming sense, ‘By Reference.’ Why is this distinction important? I asked myself earlier, ‘Are these rights in Article I of the Bill of Rights, By Value or By Reference?’ Well, if they are ‘By Reference’ then if I destroy it in one place for one person, I have destroyed it everywhere for everyone. That’s just something to ponder.
While you mull that more serious issue, I will get back to a less serious, but important matter: If a person says, “I have a Constitutional Right to Speak in any way I want,’ or I have a Constitutional right to build a building where I want, then I would say that that imbecile has not read the Constitution. The Constitution is so woven with completely referenced, or threaded connectivity to that opening declaration that to make such a statement brings into question whether that Individual understood the intentions of the original declaration, and even brings into question whether the group or individual understands what is meant by ‘We the People’. I am not at all saying a person or group does or doesn’t have a right to build a certain building in a certain place. I am simply saying that when one oversimplifies and says, “Well, this is my constitutional right! and anything else is bigoted!”, Causes me to realize that most of these people have not read and do not comprehend the Constitution, certainly not from a programmer’s standpoint, and possibly not from the standpoint of a student of the Constitution. Having read the Constitution, now – though I do recall having to study it in grammar school and take an exam on it, bit having read it again, I will say that the only fair statement a person could make who wanted to situate a physical building of any type where the general public will be able to, indeed, will in some cases have to be in the presence of it is this, “I believe that this building is an expression of our religion. I therefore believe that we do possess a constitutional guarantee to be able to build that building in such and such a location.” To flatly state, ‘It is my Constitutional Right’ is an admission of one’s complete ignorance of this document. Here: If I were to state that my Constitutional Guarantee of Freedom of Religion permitted me to build a building of worship where I then planned to enslave people inside of that very building, both Article IX enumerated in the Amendments, and the original Declaration serve to defy this alleged Constitutional Freedom. Remember that the ordination or Intention of the actual building generally precedes the construction of the building. What one’s intentions are should never be ignored when one discusses constitutionality. It must be understood in the context of ‘We, the People,’ a ‘more Pefect Union’, ‘Justice’ for all, and not just for one, Justice that is legal, social, psychological, civil, economic, national and local and can in all ways be comprehended. Think of this lastly. When Mr. Madison wrote the first line of the Constitution, he did not know what the fourth and fifth sentences would be. He certainly had not yet penned the Bill of Rights, and the ensuing Amendments had not been written. Yet, he knew that the first line, no matter what, must be true. Therefore, he knew, quite logically, that anything he wrote to follow, or anything anyone wrote to follow must logically support and agree with that very first line, or it would not remain to be true.

In historical fairness, I must say that the Preamble is often glossed over, and, as I have said, rarely used in Courts to support or argue against a matter. I must say to this that I believe that this will change as people trained to understand the flow of source code have a crack at it, and as technically trained people who understand the necessity to read ‘All of the Directions’, and not skip the part where you were supposed to have a good look at the packaging, begin to review it. This must happen, for if the Preamble did not have the significance I have expressed, then Mr. Madison may as well have copied any writing from a bathroom stall and thrown it up there, and then proceeded with the rest of the Articles.

Copyright September 05, 2010 by John P. Schumake


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