Terry Paulson

As with any national tragedy, the senseless attack in Tucson by an isolated citizen, the outpouring of support for the survivors and for those who lost loved ones, and the search for lessons learned have grabbed the attention of our nation and deserve our continued prayers.

At the Tucson memorial service in memory of the fallen, President Barack Obama’s called for a new era of civility, “Let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy. It did not. But rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.”

His call for unity and an end to the early groundless attempts to blame the attack on heated political statements should be supported. Civility in political discourse is important, and all should aspire to exercise it in our comments. But the response to “hate” speech should not be government control, but more speech to counter such statements. Freedom of speech is too critical in maintaining liberty to let any event curtail its exercise.

Such emotionally challenging events underscore the importance of our Constitution in calling us back to our founding freedoms. That is why Americans should unite behind the GOP’s attempt to take the Constitution off the wall and use it as a guide to legislative action.

Unfortunately, the New York Times strongly criticized the Republican leadership for the first ever reading of the Constitution aloud to start the new 112th Congress: “It is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation. Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.”

It’s the New York Times that is guilty of the presumptuous and self-righteous act by assuming that the Founding Fathers ever wanted the Constitution to be “left open to generations of reinterpretation.” On the contrary, they produced a precious founding document and gave “We the People” a means by which to amend it to adjust to future realities. And, through much difficulty, discussion and effort, Americans have amended the Constitution.

In case the New York Times hasn’t checked history, the “three-fifths” provision was included by the Northern states to curtail the power of the slave states and was part of the chain of choices in America’s history that eventually resulted in an amended Constitution and African-Americans receiving full rights as citizens.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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