The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is an unofficial title of the initial ten amendments to the US Constitution that support the primary human rights. The amendments were offered by James Madison on September 25, 1789 at the session of the US Congress. They came into force on 15 December 1791 (Bill of Rights of The United States of America (1791, 2015). First, at the national level, there was uniformly defined the legal status of the US citizens, outlined areas of federal control over the observance of civil rights and freedoms, which for the first time in the history of constitutional law were built as prohibitions and restrictions imposed primarily on the legislature. The Bill of Rights defends the US citizens from unfounded rummages, and confiscations as well as cruel and unusual punishments at the same time restricting the government’s power over people’s freedom of speech, religion and others. However, the provisions in the Bill of Rights also have disadvantages. This paper explores three provisions of the Bill of Rights such as freedom of the press, the right to bear arms, and the protection against cruel and unusual punishment. It discusses the advantages and negative sides of each provision and what could be added or removed from each document to make people see what is right or wrong in these provisions.
The Freedom of the Press
The freedom of the press is provided in the opening amendment of the Bill. This amendment tells that Congress should not publish any law that applies to the formation of religion or prohibits the free confession. Congress should not publish any law abridging the freedom of speech or the press. It also must not abridge the right of the people to forgather peacefully and request the government to consider complaints (Freedom of The Press, 2015).
Freedom of the press defends the right to receive and publish information or ideas without government censor or under the fear of punishment. Censor takes place when the government explores publications and productions and forbids the usage of works it detects detrimental. Freedom of the press spreads to every kind of a print and telecast material including books, gazettes, journals, brochures, movies as well as radio and TV programs.
The Constitution’s authors gave the press a wide freedom. This freedom was thought as necessary for the creation of a powerful, self-dependent press occasionally named “the fourth branch” of the state. A self-dependent press can give citizens a lot of information and opinions on the cases of public significance. However, freedom of the press occasionally encounters other rights such as the right of an accused to an impartial tribunal or a people’s right to privacy. Recently, there has been a growing anxiety about highly provocative press, inclusive of tales about citizen’s sexual lives and photos of citizens when they were in a private atmosphere.
In the US, the government cannot hinder the edition of a gazette,even when there is reason to think that there is an intention to spread information that will imperil the national safety. Besides, the government cannot adopt a law that demands gazettes to publish information against their wish, impose criminal punishments or penalty damages in civil order on the publication of the true information about the public interests or even on the spreading of untrue and harmful information about a public individual omitting infrequent cases. Moreover, the government has no right to impose taxes on the press that it does not impose on other businesses. It is also illegal to force correspondents to reveal, in most cases, the origin of their sources, forbid the press to attend legal proceedings and afterwards inform the public about them.
Therefore, the provision of the freedom of the press is the most controversial issue over which people argue all the time. It gives the ability to freely state one’s position or reveal information without any restrictions even about government’s fraudulent actions. However, it also has its disadvantages. Due to this provision, the yellow press cannot be punished for false information and interfering into people’s private lives without permission. All the information given by the press cannot be confirmed because people do not know anything about the source and many other things. Therefore, these restrictions must be taken into consideration and added to the provision.
The Right to Bear Arms
The right to keep and bear arms is determined as the right of a person to utilize and purchase a gun. This right, one of people’s civic freedoms, is revealed in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. The Second Amendment tells that a well-regulated police, being needed to ensure the safety of a free state, should not be violatethe right of the citizens to keep and bear weapons (What Are the Origins and Interpretations of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, n.d.).
Sir William Blackstone said that this right is a subsidiary right, maintaining the congenital rights of self-defense, opposition to oppression, and the civil obligation to act together in the protection of the state (cited in Barret, 2013).
The right to carry arms is considered as a considerable attribute of personal liberty. It has grown so considerable that it transformed into the expression of the majority in the US citizens right for their personal freedom. This right potentially gives the ability for citizens to join police and fight against a tyrannical government. This symbolical expression of liberty is resonating too firmly with a lot of Americans for them to be abridged of it.
With this provision, citizens are allowed to hold firearms for self-defense when they are physically or obnoxiously assaulted by other people. It does not spoil the defense power of people to save their selves and live without harm. The provision provides a well-regulated militia, better people, and close control of guns.
At the same time, there are a lot of controversies about whether the right to utilize and purchase guns belongs to people or police only. This question is not addressed yet. There are also a lot of disadvantages, for example, the high costs. Typically, buying a hidden gun permission to approve the ownership can be very expensive.
The right to bear arms necessarily includes such drawback as in the situation when the weapon gets into the incorrect arms like children who do not realize how to utilize or cope with it. As a result, accidents can occur. For an adolescent, it can be a game, but it can kill in one moment. Besides, a gun can be unsafe to even adults, which is frequently seen when they are under the impact of alcohol or drugs. Even those individuals who are thought to be responsible can make an error in utilizing a gun when intoxicated.
There is a great hazard of violence. People holding a weapon for self-defense are more likely to be shot in an attack than those without a weapon in the same situation. This means that guns cannot be the most safe and efficient way of self-defense.
The right to bear arms also leads to a higher crime rate, the nervous people around, the armed criminals, danger and lethality. Therefore, this provision must be related only to militia to prevent these negative effects.
The Protection Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution ascertains that cruel and unusual punishment should not be used. It fully prohibits some punishments and limits others that are undue in comparison to the offense or the condition of the offender.
Despite the crimes made, it is inhumanely to severely torture other people. Every person, whoever he is, has dignity which must not be humiliated. The provision ensures it. It provides that a punishment must not by its severity be humiliating to the human dignity, particularly torment; also, it must not be caused arbitrarily. There should not be any punishment that is fully denied in every society and is evidently inexpedient.
Considering capital punishment, the provision determines that decease must be fast and pain-free to alienate suffering of the individual being executed; every executioner must have a medical background to alienate suffering caused by mistake; the decease must not be bloody (to avoid suffering for those who carry out the execution). No cooperation must be demanded from the individual being executed to alienate apathy, calamity, and suffering caused by the prisoner being demanded to take part in his own execution.
Therefore, the provision cares about criminals. However, in my opinion, the capital punishment is the negative side of the provision and must be excluded from the law. The people have no rights to decide who has to live and who has not. Only God has this right. Whoever a person is, he is worth living. Still, everybody can change.
Therefore, the Bill of Rights adopted on 15 December 1791 protects people’s rights and simultaneously restricts government’s actions. Nevertheless, it is not perfectly thought out and has a lot of negative sides as along with positive ones. Therefore, there is a lot to add and remove from it. The great examples are the provisions about the freedom of the press, the right to bear arms, and the protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The freedom of the press gives the ability to freely express one’s opinion or reveal information without any restrictions; on the other hand, due to this freedom, the yellow press cannot be punished. This punishment must be added to the provision. The right to bear arms is seen as a considerable attribute of people’s liberty and gives the ability for self-defense, but at the same time provides irresponsible gun behavior and greater hazard of violence. That is why only militia stuff should be allowed to bear arms. The protection against cruel and unusual punishment provides that the punishment must be humane and does not make people suffer, but it allows capital punishment which must be excluded from the provision.
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