Home Integrity Let's Protect the First Amendment, Too

Let's Protect the First Amendment, Too

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We Love Our Amendments

If there's any one thing that I've learned while writing here, it's that the Constitution and its amendments, particularly the Second Amendment, have a special place in American hearts. No posts I've ever contributed have generated more comments than posts about how the Second Amendment should be interpreted and implemented, and those comments tend to be very passionate.

That's a good thing. Passion gets a lot of things done.

The First Amendment

So I would like to take a moment to advocate for equal passion to be applied to the First Amendment, particularly the right to peaceable assembly, as noted in this quote from the Amendment:

'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances'

As vigorously as the Second Amendment continues to be defended, the First Amendment has been cast aside. The current example is the First Amendment right of First American Nations to protest an oil pipeline that would cross lands they own and consider sacred, and desecrate sites they consider historical artifacts of their civilization.

Make no mistake: These citizens have this right to peaceful assembly. However, their rights under the First Amendment have been violated wholesale.

Law enforcement officials have used water cannons on peacefully assembled personnel in subfreezing temperatures, inhumanely harming hundreds of Americans.

Police themselves have disrespected the well-being of those expressing their First Amendment rights, as exemplified by this member of the Ojibwe Nation'He shot me with a rubber bullet right in the belly button, and when I showed him that he had hurt me, he just smiled and shot both my kneecaps.'

Why does this matter to EDM?

It's definitely important to make the connection, because there's so much that's essential to our country riding on it. Consider at the foundation our EDM mission: To protect and serve the public, ensuring their health, safety, and rights under the law. This includes all people, regardless of their race, age, national origin, etc.

We are an equal-protection community. That's what makes this profession so honorable.

So, is this EDM profession still honorable when our practitioners accomplish the following?
-- Spraying citizens with water in subfreezing temperatures knowing that it will cause hypothermia, hospitalization, and potentially even death among the elderly from shock and heart failure.
-- Exhibiting the power to injure and cripple citizens who are unarmed and only exhibiting their First Amendment right to assembly.
-- Infringing on the right of the free press by arresting journalists and shooting down camera drones?

I would submit that answer is no.

I would submit that the future honor of our profession is dependent on our professionals being willing to do what they know is right--first do no harm--in the face of whatever government and corporate pressure that's being exerted on them to do what they know is wrong.

I would assert that many members of our profession have failed to embrace their charter by allowing harm to come to citizens under their watch--or worse, even causing that harm.

We live in challenging times

This statement has never been more true. The existential question--the one that will define our society going forward--is how will we respond?

I would recommending responding by:
-- Honoring all amendments of our Constitution.
-- Honoring our creed as EDM professionals to protect rather than harm our citizens.
-- (this is the tough one) Refusing to obey orders from higher authority that require that we harm our citizens or in other ways damage or ignore the rights we have established under our founding documents.

So please--please DO understand the constitution, the rights of our citizens, and the sacred obligation that we have as EDM professionals to protect and serve. Thwart, in any way you find necessary, any unconstitutional orders from any source that would result in harm to our citizens.

Stand tall.

As I've said many times before, in an era where leadership is incompetent to the point of being nonexistent, and ethics and morality are under siege from all sides, our profession has the obligation to show the way. I firmly believe that. Do you?

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.