Faithful messengers in history’s pre-computer age were the social media, press, cell phone, email, air, and ground transport of their respective eras. These couriers transmitted the critical information needed to run a government, maintain relationships, build businesses, etc.
Today, we depend on modern communications to maintain our constitutional lives. When I heard the phrase “constitutional life,” I needed time to think about it. No one in my sphere of influence has ever used the term to describe the freedoms (enumerated, unenumerated, implied) that are a part of American life.
So, let’s look at how we depend on modern communications to maintain our constitutional lives.
The Eighth Amendment protects us from cruel and unusual punishment. Depending on how you get your news, you may believe that there is no practice of cruel and unusual punishment in our country. Or, you may believe exceptions are made for certain people and specific crimes. But, when you go to vote, you may never look at judicial nominees or how your local, state, and national congressional representatives view this vital issue. You have depended upon modern day communications to form your opinion rather than deep discovery. The result affects your constitutional life. Just look around at the nation today.
Here’s another example: You have the freedom to think a certain way. It’s not what you think about things but the actions you take or avoid that can get you in trouble with the law. However, in recent years, you may have noticed your constitutional life being affected by a business or institution’s actions without any warning or change in the law. How did that happen? Could modern communications cause this change?!? You may no longer be allowed to think certain things in addition to legally restricted expression (like slander, libel, and personal threats to your safety). If that is important to you, you still have the freedom to leave that business or institution to maintain your constitutional life.
Issues like prison abolition, being “soft” on crime, and reducing funding for law enforcement can affect your constitutional life, perhaps even your freedom of movement. How did these topics come to the forefront and become a concern in the United States? We need no further than to look at our modern-day couriers of information and how they relay that information to us.
So, who are your faithful messengers of information? This used to be an easy question. Not so these days. Much more is at stake. Where are you getting your news? How can you determine if your sources are reliable and fact-based? How much work, time, and effort do you spend evaluating information before forming an opinion? Most importantly, how do your messengers affect you, your family, and your community, thereby affecting your constitutional life? It’s something to think about.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. 🇺🇸