Bill of Rights and Wrongs

Recently I was part of an international jury at the 29th Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Competition in Turkey. Some of the jurors and competitors were from countries where citizens who criticize the government can find themselves in prison.

The cartoonists, and their editors, in those countries tread carefully. (Yet one of the main themes among the competing cartoons was revolution. Here’s the co-winner, created by the Turkish artist Doğan Arslan.)

In Turkey, there are more than 100 journalists and a number of mayors and activists jailed by the government on invented charges.

In the U.S., our President has been labeled an extremist-Muslim-Communist-terrorist-Kenyan-alien plotting the destruction of our country. The punishment for the accusers is having Fox microphones and cameras thrust into their faces.

We are protected from arbitrary arrest by our Bill of Rights, which, generally, our government has adhered to since the Constitution was adopted. Many people today probably think the Bill of Rights is the Constitution, but it wasn’t even part of the original document.

What Federalists like Washington, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison actually created with the Constitution was a strong central government that was good for business and muscular enough to protect those in power from the people.

But when it came time to vote for or against the Constitution, many citizens refused to give up their demand for a Bill of Rights.

By 1789, with the Federalists pushing hard, all the states had passed the Consitituion. In 1791:

Update: Imagine if George Washington had acted like today’s Egyptian generals and said, “Guys, your Bill of Rights is certainly symbolically important, and I’m all for it in principle, but, for now, I and my army think our national security and the economy require that we put it on hold.”

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About the Author

stan mack
stan mack
I used a reporter's techniques to create documentary comic strip series including "Stan Mack's Real Life Funnies," for the Village Voice, "Stan Mack's Out-Takes," for Adweek magazine, and "Stan Mack's Dispatches," for The New York Times. I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and was the art director of The New York Times Sunday Magazine. I've written a number of non-fiction graphic books including "Janet & Me," "The Story of the Jews," "Heartbreak and Roses" (with Janet Bode), and, with Susan Champlin, two historical graphic novels, "Road to Revolution!" and "Fight for Freedom." "Taxes..." was fun because i approached it like a reporter traveling back in time to cover the Revolution.

2 Comments on "Bill of Rights and Wrongs"

  1. Jennifer Richardson | July 7, 2014 at 8:35 am |

    I came across these fantastic cartoons as I was putting together some lessons for my students. I was hoping to use them in my class with your permission. Such a great way to teach about the debate between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, and expose my students to political cartoons as well. Please contact me at your earliest convenience. Thanks!

  2. Jennifer Richardson | July 7, 2014 at 8:42 am |

    Just found Mr. Mack’s website and where to buy his books!

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