Sunday, September 21, 2014

Read the #$%^&%#ing Constitution!

I just saw this picture as a meme on Facebook, and I wanted to comment, but I realized that my thoughts would be way, way too long for just a quick response. It would be bloggin’ time!

I have lots of thoughts about this.  Let me start with this one: a long time ago, while I was in my office at work, one of my co-workers came in and started ranting about something political. This was not strange. Our whole department was quite opinionated, and we were often sucked into some pretty fun discussions of many different topics: politics, religion, even cooking.

This particular rant, while I don’t remember even the topic, was sealed in my head by my friend’s last words, “I just wish everyone would read the #$%^&%#ing Constitution!”

I was taken aback, because he didn’t usually swear like that. After that washed over me, however, I realized he was right. I also wished everyone would read the constitution. I, myself, have read it many times. I don’t have it memorized, but I’ve read it. I think more people should read it and study it.

I think that would be both a blessing and a problem. It would be a blessing because if everyone knew the original words and what it means, we would be a much better governed people. It would be a problem, because many of the options out there for us to study it, many of the books and classes that we can read or take have a particular political angle to promote.

And therein lies the real challenge. The Constitution is very much like scripture in this sense: The words are there, and the words are clear, but what they mean and how to interpret them is not so obvious. I hear it a lot: someone gets on a political rant and says that this or that thing is unconstitutional and should be stopped! This guy or that party is trampling the constitution to dust and we must save it!

And, as I listen to it, I realize that what’s really being said is that something conflicts with their particular interpretation of the words, not necessarily against the words itself.

So much effort is spent trying to prove what the founding fathers really meant when they wrote it. Much more effort is spent trying to render current situational laws into the framework that they set up over 225 years ago, and still keep it relevant.

So, yes, everyone should read it. And everyone should also realize that their own interpretation of it is not the final word. The document itself provides for a mechanism for interpretation, and even that isn’t infallible. At least, if we’ve all read it, we’ll be a bit better in arguing about it.


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

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