My mother was very good at clarifying things for me.
If I was unsure about what she meant when she told me to clean my room, she made certain I knew exactly what she meant. And it wasn't “move the pile of junk from one side of the room to the other.”
We all need clarification from time to time. That can be at work, at home and especially when trying to understand the realities of our fast-moving world. Many of us have a hard time keeping up, myself included.
So, as a public service to the readers of this fine newspaper, I feel like we need a little clarification on a couple of topics. Now, this probably won't include all of you. No. Many of you understand these things quite well. But some seem to be having a hard time grasping the concepts I will discuss in this column.
Let's start out with the Constitution. People love the Constitution, right? Of course they do. People talk about it all of the time, and love to say yell about their “Constitutional rights!”
Well, we still have a lot of people who don't seem to get the first amendment. In case you have forgotten it, here it is:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The part people seems to consistently get wrong is the piece on freedom of speech.
Now, I have talked about this before in this space, but people still don't seem to get it. If you go to a white supremacist rally and scream about your rights, you are free to do that. Government cannot abridge your right to do so.
However, if your employer sees your screaming face on the news and is shocked to learn that it has a Klan member on staff, it can certainly fire you if it feels you are bad for business. It is not a government, so it can take action.
There – clarification.
My second point of clarification is more local. It has to do with the jail the county plans to build in downtown Oregon.
It seems obvious to me that a number of people around the area seem to have the idea that the county has not chosen a final, final site for the jail. Some might believe that because the city of Oregon denied the county the right to close a portion of Sixth Street the county is not building there at all.
To clarify – the county is building the jail in downtown Oregon on the land it owns. That is happening. The county is not looking at another site. This is a done deal, people.
Yes, the county is still engaged with the city in talks over the street closure. Yes, the county has said it might take legal action if the city won't budge on its position. And yes, this could cost the taxpayers money.
But – and this is important – the county has not decided to look elsewhere to build the jail.
The jail is being built in downtown Oregon. Period. That should now be clear.
There will still be things that aren't clear to all of us. But we should now have these two nailed down.