A day late, but not forgotten. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Bill of Rights
During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a “bill of rights” that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.
On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States therefore proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met arguments most frequently advanced against it. The first two proposed amendments, which concerned the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12, however, ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.
James Madison was largely responsible for the text of the Bill of Rights. he was persuaded by Thomas Jefferson, who was inially against such a Bill, as was Madison is his stint as a Federalist. It was all a little complicated with some fearing that even a Constitution rather than a lose conferracy of states would create too much centralized power. Jefferson and Madison came to realize that if we were to have a Constitution and the ensuing centralized authority the least that should be done is spell out protections against unrestrained government authority. One should see these concerns within the context of what they feared. The britsh had taken steps toward spelling out rights with the Coronation Charter of King Henry I and the Magna Carta (1215). Yet those steps did not prevent the centralization of tremendous power in the king. They thought a Constitution and Bill of Rights would be mere pledges or good intentions, rather than law that would be enforced. The Supreme Court of 1803 brought those fears to an end as they asserted the right to find all laws, state or federal Constitutional. While we obviously have problems with fidelity to the Bill of Rights ( the worse aspects of the Patriot Act for example and draconian drug laws) it is difficult to imagine a United States today without a Bill of Rights. Though among many ironies of having such a Bill is that the ACLU, whose sole mission is to protect those rights, is often accused of being traitorous by conservatives.
What is self and the strange adventures of Dr Milton Rokeach – Diary by Jenny Diski
In 1959, Dr Milton Rokeach, a social psychologist, received a research grant to bring together three psychotic, institutionalised patients at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan, in order to make a two and a half year study of them. Rokeach specialised in belief systems: how it is that people develop and keep (or change) their beliefs according to their needs and the requirements of the social world they inhabit. A matter of the inside coming to terms with the outside in order to rub along well enough to get through a life. As a rule people look for positive authority or referents to back up their essential beliefs about themselves in relation to the world: the priest, imam, Delia Smith, the politburo, gang leader, Milton Friedman, your mother, my favourite novelist. It works well enough, and when it does, we call ourselves and others like us sane. When it goes awry, when people lose and/or reject all positive referents in the real world for the self inside, we call them delusional, psychotic, mad. In order to count as sane, you don’t necessarily have to conform to the norms of the world, but you do have to be nonconformist in a generally acceptable way.
I tend to think that to appraoch self-acutalization one has to grasp the reality of self. To become too distant from that concept is to become incoherent. Mentally one would juust be a hamster caught on their exercise wheel. Maybe coherenency is an overrated part of that concept if your mind is agile enough to keep up with challenges to the delusions.
They all agreed with Rokeach that there could only be one Jesus Christ. Joseph was the first to take up the contradiction. ‘He says he’s the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. I can’t get it. I know who I am. I’m God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, and if I wasn’t, by gosh, I wouldn’t lay claim to anything of the sort … I know this is an insane house and you have to be very careful.’ Very quickly he decided that the other two were insane, the proof being that they were in a mental hospital, weren’t they? Therefore Clyde and Leon were merely to be ‘laughed off’. Clyde concluded that the other two were ‘rerises’, lower beings, and anyway dead. He took, perhaps, the most godlike tone: ‘I am him. See? Now understand that!’ Leon, who became adept at ducking and diving in order to maintain his position without causing the social disruption they all found threatening, explained that the other two were ‘hollowed-out instrumental gods’. When Rokeach pushed Leon to say that Joseph wasn’t God, he replied:
‘He’s an instrumental god, now please don’t try to antagonise him. [To Joseph] My salute to you, sir, is as many times as you are a hollowed-out instrumental god … My belief is my belief and I don’t want your belief, and I’m just stating what I believe.’
‘I know who I am,’ Joseph said.
‘I don’t want to take it away from you,’ Leon said. ‘You can have it. I don’t want it.’
Leon’s standard response to any claim from the others that went against his delusions was ‘That’s your belief, sir,’ and then to change the subject.
Maybe, just maybe Diski is a little relativistic in her conclusion. That is small change compared to the entire article. Fascinating look at three very bright people with tenuous connections to reality, yet they could call on some intelligent or imaginative set of standards by which they could judge themselves. They may have been highly delusional, but maybe less insane than your neighbors.
Stone Temple Pilots – Vasoline (Video)