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Rights, petitions, and more rights

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There it is again, that First Amendment, poking its way again into our serene system of governance. You may recall that Wenatchee and its City Council not long ago were declared poster children among First Amendment right inhibitors for forbidding us to vote on our new red-light auto ticketing machinery. Tim Eyman said this and incidents like it gave him the supreme motivation for devising Initiative 517, on which we are voting now, which he says further enshrines and protects our basic rights.

You may remember from eighth-grade civics, it’s the First Amendment that has the list. These rights are so fundamental that everybody has them, automatically, by virtue of being a human being. These rights aren’t granted by the government. Governments grant privileges; rights come with you when you are born. It’s a hazy distinction between rights that shall not be abridged, and privileges granted a favored class, that cloud up Initiative 517. Remember, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, the press, and religion, and we talk about those all the time. Tucked in the back are two more — the right to peaceably assemble, and to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

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