A quick item today urging you to enjoy some free expression to its most hilarious extent. “Let Freedom Laugh!” Bill of Rights Comedy Concert debuts tonight. It is headlined by Lewis Black, who will be accompanied by Dick Gregory and Tom Smothers; rising stars Cristela Alonzo, Ahmed Ahmed, and John Fugelsang; and special appearances by Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, and Penn Jillette. The event will be telecast on AXS TV (more detail below), and it is the brainchild of Chris Bliss and MyBillofRights.org. Yes, the same people who brought that stunning Bill of Rights Monument to downtown Phoenix. Not only did Arizona get the first monument (slated to be installed in every one of the 50 state capitals). We also witnessed the organization’s first comedy event, held at Phoenix Symphony Hall back in May 2012. The newest and most recent concert was shot at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. Interested in how and when to watch it on your own TV or device tonight? Go here for more information for your location. Celebrating the Bill of Rights may never have been as hilarious as this.Follow @azatty
April 16, 2015
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February 11, 2015
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How many constitutions do you own?
Well, if you run a puppet regime somewhere, “at least one” may be your answer. But what I’m talking about are those super-handy little pocket constitutions. The ones that reprint the entire U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and maybe even more historic information.
I’ll get to my own collection in a moment. For now, I must say that I was surprised that anyone has traced the history of that pocket-sized document. But we can thank Slate writer Betsy Woodruff for ferreting out the information. Here’s how she opens her article:
“Forget apple pie. Forget the Statue of Liberty, Chuck Norris, Daisy Dukes, cowboy boots, and hot dogs on the Fourth of July. The most American thing that has ever existed landed on my desk a few weeks ago in an unsolicited mailing from a libertarian-leaning think tank: a snappy new Cato Institute pocket Constitution, one of millions printed since the booklets first started streaming off printing presses decades ago.”
You really should read the whole thing here.
When you cover a legal beat, you come across—or are handed—a lot of these books—which may be why I never gave the thing much thought.
At the top of this post is a photo with a few of the constitutions that make up my collection. But when I located six more in one drawer alone, I decided to stop looking. At least, I think that’s what the Framers would have done.
How about you? Do you have one or more of these legalistic books? Do you have a favorite, maybe because it includes colonial trivia?
Take a picture and send it my way (email@example.com), plus a sentence of why you like it and/or if you generally carry it. I’ll share it with the rest of us out here in the Colonies.Follow @azatty
February 15, 2013
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In the current Arizona Attorney Magazine, I took the opportunity to channel our inner James Madison. Who wouldn’t like to do that?
The occasion was my editor’s letter in which I praised the recent dedication of a Bill of Rights Monument in Phoenix. (detail is here).
It was an impressive event, as was the concept itself. I’m still stunned at the commitment and success of Chris Bliss, Executive Director of mybillofrights.org.
So in case you missed it, here is my own riff on one of this nation’s most important documents. And tell me: How you would have transformed the Bill of Rights? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And have a great weekend.
Here is my column:
There are few events for which Arizonans will stand in the drizzle. We may be a hardy people, but precipitation strains our resolve.
In December, the presence of a light rain simply added to the noteworthy nature of a historic and well-attended event: the dedication of the nation’s first capitol-city monument to the Bill of Rights.
Congratulations to organizer Chris Bliss, generous Arizona lawyers, legislative leaders and others who made the limestone monoliths a reality.
Our Last Word this month includes the eloquent remarks by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton that day (more background and photos are here and here).
In honor of the achievement, I offer—à la the Bill of Rights itself—10 ways that the ceremony and the accomplishment impress:
I. The Weather shall make no drizzle that keeps a committed People from their celebration of a unique Bill of Rights, as they enjoy gathering, assembling, speaking and sharing space with chilly members of the Press.
II. A well-organized Program, being necessary to the success of an early-morning event, the right of a cold and coffee-deprived people to be exhilarated by concepts of liberty, shall not be infringed.
III. No Speaker did, without the at-least-grudging consent of the assembled People, go on and on in a Tyrannical manner or in a style proscribed by Common Sense.
IV. The right of the People to be reassured that their elected leaders of all Parties support and defend liberty shall not be violated.
V. No monument to our own Bill of Rights shall be relegated to a back corner of our State’s Capitol plaza, but shall be given a place of Prominence and Respect, where viewers may appreciate the Liberties espoused, sited hard against a monument to brave servicepeople who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of those liberties.
VI. In the development of public Monuments, Arizonans shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public process, yielding an awe-inspiring setting achieved through the impartial efforts of many people, and with the assistance of Counsel—Arizona attorneys who stepped up in amazing ways.
VII. In Monuments to which we have grown accustomed, where the cost has skyrocketed beyond Imagining, the right of the People to have a Monument erected with the expenditure of no Public Monies, at a modest cost and with a noteworthy portion of donated contributions, shall be preserved.
VIII. Excessive verbiage or sponsor names shall not be required, nor excessive ornaments imposed, for the simple words of the Bill of Rights are sufficient, and the sculptor’s stunning simplicity of vision shall foreclose the possible infliction on succeeding Generations of a cruel and unusual Artifice.
IX. The enumeration in this Monument of certain rights arose as the vision of a single man, who brought humor, drive and equanimity to the challenge of delivering a limestone embodiment to the people of Arizona, and in the process helped present what may be the best comedy concert fund-raiser in the history of these United States.
X. The power of this dedication Ceremony shall remind all present or hereafter standing in silent appreciation of the Monoliths that these rights, like the final word of the Bill of Rights, reside in and end with “the People.”
December 21, 2012
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On this Change of Venue Friday, I invite you to look at some photos (below) from last Saturday’s Bill of Rights Monument dedication in Phoenix. (I’ve covered this quite a bit; see here for more background.)
Congratulations again to Chris Bliss, who spearheaded this effort on behalf of his organization.
More photos are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.
Have a great weekend.
July 16, 2012
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I have passed on quite a bit of news regarding the Bill of Rights Monument. When it’s installed in Phoenix, it will be the first capitol-city monument in the nation dedicated to those important documents.
This month, I heard from Chris Bliss, executive director of MyBillofRights.org. He provides an update—and photos:
“Thanks to the success of the Phoenix Comedy Festival and contributions of donors like you, we’ve raised over $120,000 since April. This means that fabrication and sculpting of the 10 Amendment Monoliths is now fully funded—a major milestone in our drive to bring America’s 1st Monument of the Bill of Rights to the Arizona Capitol.
“I’ve attached some images of the work in progress. The photos don’t do it justice, as being up close with the monoliths is an unexpectedly personal experience. You find yourself drawn toward each stone, pulled in by its contoured shaping and textured surfaces. And this is even before the text inscriptions have been added!
“Amendments III, IV, and V should be inscribed by mid-July. Work on the next grouping, the monoliths for Amendments I, II, and X, begins this week. The final four monoliths (Amendments VI, VII, VIII, and IX) will follow by summer’s end, with all 10 expected to be completed by the end of October.
“Now all that remains is for us to fund the installation and the state’s one-time maintenance fee, a total of $150,000 to $175,000 (depending on contingencies). I will keep you informed on our progress toward that goal, as well as some new “crowdsourcing” options on our website for harnessing the power of social media that should be ready soon.
“Thanks again for your generous support for the Bill of Rights Monument at the Arizona Capitol.”
Here are the photos: