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Move to Amend

Happened to attend the “Move to Amend” speech at the local United Methodist Church on Tuesday.
This was an extremely interesting gathering. The sponsoring organization, Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, is to be commended for bringing David Cobb to town, I think.

“Challenging Corporate Personhood & Cheating Democracy” is going to be followed by a training Saturday.

Not only did Cobb, from Democracy Unlimited, give a rousing speech on amending the legal doctrine that gives huge moneybag corporations the free speech rights of natural-born persons, but there was also an appearance by a cool kid from the Occupy movement. I say “kid” because many of us at the speech were older. Seems like a lot of the real activists in this movement are so young.

Occupy Minneapolis seems to have adopted a foreclosure-support stance recently, and they are planning to occupy some foreclosed homes. Okay, that seems practical, making the invisible more visible, indoors.

Finally, the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus performed. Fantastic concert. Their songs, on things getting better – inspired by support to gay teens who have been bullied in Hennepin-Anoka schools – and on marriage and walking together, really stirred people. Stan Hill, the chorus’s artistic director, asked couples if they wished to stand and acknowledge their relationships, and all these gray-haired older couples stood together. One man stood up and put his arm around his wife. Another ran across the room to where his wife was sitting to take her hand. Sweet. (I wished my husband were with me.)

There were lots of social-justice activists in the house. I was sitting next to a guy who represented a group called Every Church a Peace Church.

For people like myself, who (a) aren’t churchgoers and (b) have been isolated and harassed by years of cyber-bullying, it provided a feeling of belonging.

While I thought Cobb went a bit overboard on the constitutional amendment fervor, suggesting at one point scrapping the whole document, a stance unlikely to be popular with most people, it was a unique experience to learn that the crux of the problem – corporate personhood – began with the 14th Amendment.

I have studied in some detail the origins of the 14th Amendment, and I can tell you it’s a perversion of the original intent of those who hammered out what was (at the time) a controversial attempt to end the non-personhood of slaves by inviting them into the community of citizens.

Opponents of the measure in Congress heaped scorn and vituperation on the measure’s “radical” supporters, using the most vicious racism you can imagine.

I have more to say on this, but I would personally, as an American-born natural person, suggest limiting the Constitutional fix to the very Amendment that was used to establish the precedent of corporate personhood in case law, and along the way, teaching Americans a little bit more about the history of that Amendment, and its bookends, the 13th and 15th Amendments. They might be surprised by what they would learn.

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