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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Grandfather, Dennis Lennox, and the 14th Amendment

According to the book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, the fourteenth amendment has a long and sordid history. The book asserts that it wasn't even passed properly and forced down the perverbial throats of the Southern States in the aftermath of the Civil War. It was originally intended to protect former slaves however as it has evolved it has in my opinion become the most important amendment outside of the first ten. Here is the relevant text.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The fourteenth amendment insures that individuals aren't targeted for personal, political, racial, or any other reason than that they did something that is against the law. To understand why the fourteenth amendment is so vital and important to the freedom we enjoy we only need to look at the story of my grandfather, who spent his life in Siberia in Soviet Russia.

While my grandfather never finished high school and grew up in a small village of only several thousand people, his disadvantages didn't stop him from enjoying great personal and financial success. He ran a very successful Soviet version of the local corner store. As WWII was just unfolding, Stalin was running a duplicitous game. At the same time he was making strange geopolitical bedfellows with the Allies against Hitler, he was also consolidating his own power internally and eliminating anyone that he felt threatened him. My grandfather was just such a person. His successful business also made him a threat at least in the twisted mind of Stalin. As such, Stalin's minnions swooped into my grandfather's village. They arrested him and tried him on trumped up charges and he rotted away in a Soviet prison for most of the next two decades. His only real "crime" was being a business success. That was something Stalin couldn't afford to allow.

The fourteenth amendment is meant to protect the citizenry from going through exactly what my grandfather had to endure: being targeted by a person in power with an agenda. Protecting everyone equally under the law ensures that no one is targeted for any reason but their violation of the law.

This brings me to Dennis Lennox who currently faces suspension from Central Michigan University because he violated their policy against passing out literature inside university buildings and he didn't identify himself to a stranger at night. At this same time Lennox is held to this awfully draconian standard, the overwhelming majority of freshman and sophomores at Central Michigan University are systematically violating the Central Michigan University policy against underage drinking. Since I am no lawyer, I don't want to argue the legalism of the arguement. Whether or not they technically violated the fourteenth amendment is irrelevant to me. I do know that without a doubt the powers that be at CMU are violating the spirit of the fourteenth amendment. They are targeting Lennox in a way no other student is. They are singling him out for punishment no other student would be singled out for. They are doing it he has been effective in painstakingly bringing to light the malfeasance surrounding the hiring of Gary Peters, who is simultaneously teaching at CMU and running for U.S. Congress in a district hundreds of miles away. This makes their act not only despicable, sociopathic, but utimately UnAmerican. The fourteenth amendment is supposed to protect the citizenry against exactly this sort of behavior.

Just as Stalin identified my grandfather as a threat and then targeted him in a manner not consistent to other citizens, the admin at CMU is doing the same to Lennox. The ancestors of our founding fathers were themselves the outcasts of society. They were themselves the targets of unequal treatment under the law of their own nations. Whether it was religious, personal, or class reasons, they were themselves targeted by authorities in their own home nations in a manner that others weren't.

When the concept of America was born, it was meant to protect the citizens from powerful governments that tried to take away god given rights for reasons other than law breaking. Freedom is meaningless if it isn't applied to everyone the exact same way. If Dennis Lennox faces expulsion for passing out literature, while most freshman and sophomores violate the alcohol policy with impugnity, then Dennis Lennox doesn't enjoy the same freedoms that the rest of the citizenry does. If our basic freedoms aren't distributed equally to everyone then they are meaningless.

As I sit here, I must be careful. It is easy for me to draw deeper conclusions and find universal concepts. That's because when I am done I can go back to my happy life. My biggest fear will be how the economy will affect future mortgage rates and what that will do to my still fragile business. That's because my future isn't being threatened the way Dennis Lennox' future is. He is facing the threat of expulsion from college. To me these concepts are theoretical. To him they are all too real. It is one thing to bemoan the squelching of another's rights, but quite another to face the reality of having your own squelched and watching your life be disrupted and potentially destroyed while they are.

For this reason, I ask everyone to exercise their most basic right, the right to speak freely, and to contact each and every administrator and let them know in no uncertain terms that this must stop. Here is the contact information for every CMU administrator of note. Please let them know that if they continue with the sham of an expulsion hearing, the consequences to them will be much more severe than anything Lennox faces...

CMU President Michael Rao, mailto:president@cmich.eduand (989) 774-3131* Assistant Dean of Students Anthony Voisin anthony.a.voisin@cmich.edu and (989) 774-3016 * Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffrey Caponigro (R), capon1jr@cmich.edu and (248) 355-3200* Board of Trustees member Stephanie Comai (R), comai1s@cmich.edu and (734) 761-6915* Board of Trustees member John Kulhavi (R), kulha1jg@cmich.edu and (248) 737-6222* Board of Trustees member Gail Torreano (R), torre1gf@cmich.edu and (313) 223-7171

3 comments:

El Jefe Maximo said...

I'll never forget buying my constitutional law text in law school. Sometimes you can tell whats emphasized in a course by just looking at the table of contents.

Modern US constitutional law is essentially all about the 14th Amendment. Yeah, the Bill of Rights is significant, and there is a big supporting cast -- but you need the 14th Amendment to get anyplace. But the 14th Amendment was a real constitutional revolution.

Anonymous said...

Make NO mistake - Dennis Lennox is being "singled out" because he WANTS to be singled out. The boy wants and CRAVES attention of this type.

mike volpe said...

Lennox may in fact be starved for attention as you claim, however make no mistake, he was targeted because he became a threat to the administration that targeted him.