Our celebration of the Fourth of July honors the deed of 56 very brave men -- I'm sure women and people of color would have too if they had been allowed their own independence at the time -- who gathered in Philadelphia, Penn. as the Continental Congress to give final approval to the Declaration of Independence. By signing the document, these individuals were declaring the independence of the American colonies from British rule. Thus began an independence movement -- the Declaration inspired insurrections from the French Revolution to the freedom movements in Africa in the 1960s -- that continue on even      today.
      I decided to read the document because since my first reading of it  over 35 years ago, I surely must have forgotten what it really said,  replacing the actual text in my memory with what I wanted it to say or at  least thought it said. After all, there are many citizens in this country  who, when seeing the words of the Declaration out of context of the document's form, think it is some radical -- perhaps Communist  -- inflammatory document.
      I found the Declaration to be very  informing. While some of its contents are firmly footed in the 18th  century, there are passages that still apply to our government today. I found four of them to be particularly instructive and remarkably      contemporary.
      The first is the one we all know by heart.
      "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
      I thought about the proposed constitutional amendment in Wisconsin to ban civil unions and same-sex marriages, the so-called "Gay Marriage" ban when I read this passage. Here it is that our Declaration of Independence declares in a very positive way that we are all equal and that we have inalienable rights. The founding documents of this country, the Declaration, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, continuously talk about our individual rights and the limitations placed on government to abridge those rights.
      Isn't it a sign that something terrible is going on in this country and this state when we are proposing to amend the state constitution to give government more power to take away people's rights? Isn't this kind of  contrary to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution?
      I find this scary. We already have a law on the books that  defines what marriage is. Why must we amend the state constitution in such  a negative way? What is the real agenda for the people who are pushing this? Who else's rights do they want to permanently ban? Who else do  they want to tread on? Are they trying to take away our right to redress government? Are they trying to limit the things our elected representatives can vote on?
      I find this measure to be so unpatriotic and so contrary to the Declaration of Independence. These people are beginning to act more and  more like the British Parliament in days gone by. Can I please be free from the Church of the United States that declares what I must believe marriage to be?
      The next passage is also very contemporary.  "For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:" Does this sound  like the situation in Guantanamo Bay? The Bush government locks people up without a trial by jury for indefinite periods of time. Doesn't that  sound like the thing the American colonists were complaining about?
      This War on Terrorism has resulted in the limiting of our freedom and our rights. The British government viewed those Bostonians who dumped the tea into the Boston Harbor as terrorists as well. The colonists still demanded trial by jury. Has the administration of President George W. Bush become the monarchy of King George IV?
      Another passage, it seemed to me, must  have been written yesterday. "For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences." Doesn't this sound like the CIA program of transporting suspects around the world, placing them in secret   jail cells, and, in some cases, turning them over to other governments that  have no qualms about torturing their prisoners? I mean the CIA probably has some guilty terrorists that they have transported in this manner. But what about the innocent people who haven't been given a jury trial? In  those cases, they are "pretended offences."
      This last one is soo contemporary. "For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most  valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments." Isn't this what Bush has been doing through the secret wiretaps, declarations of which laws he will implement and which ones he will ignore, and other initiatives and policies that pretend we don't have a Congress of Supreme Court, you know, the other two branches of government that give us a separation of powers.
      In the name of  Tyranny -- oh, I mean terrorism -- Bush and other very conservative people are taking away our rights and regressing us all the  way back to the 1970s. King George the W is not following the Spirit of  1776. It's time that we rebel from this attitude of King George and  start taking back our freedoms before the shackles are put on too tight.  Continue to live the Spirit of 1776! Celebrate freedom!
VOL I NO. 8                                              June 28, 2006
JUNE 28, 2006
Stories and Columns

Another legal assault on Affirmative Action?
by Dr. Paul Barrows

Estados Unidos prefiere el estatus quo en Mexico,
by Alfonso Zepeda-Capistran

Agnes Cammer: No sign of stopping at 80,
by Heidi M. Pascual

LEO success stories,
by Melissa Janowski

The Voting Rights Act must be extended,
by Laura Salinger

Cuentame 2006, un reporte de la vida de los latinos en el condado de Dane,
por Elda Gonzalez

African American Council of Churches: The struggle continues,
by Jonathan Gramling

Random Order: Father's Day,
by Tracie Gilbert

Voices: A living lesson from Nellie McKay,
by Dr. Jean Daniels

Campus-Community Connection: Trust should be earned,
by Pam Pfeffer

* AKA: To honor and serve,
by Jonathan Gramling

Jonathan Person: A chance of a lifetime,
by Jonathan Gramling

Robbie Lowery for Dane County Sheriff,
by Jonathan Gramling

* TRIAD Conference

* Happenings

* Global Connections
Reflections/ Jonathan Gramling
Protect your freedom
Meet Tourism Deputy Secretary Sheree Dallas Branch
A Wisconsin Wonderland
Jonathan Person
A chance of a lifetime