A couple weeks ago a caller was on a morning talk show to expound upon the importance of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in relation to the 1st Amendment.  The identity of the caller has been withheld.  Listen closely to what he said.

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Did you catch it?

The caller stated that Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is basically spelled out in the 1st Amendment.

The phrase "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" is not in the U.S. Constitution at all.

Though many of us already know, here is a refresher of what is actually written in the 1st Amendment:

"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."

Can someone please explain how Life, Liberty and Happiness is seen in this passage?

Credit: Brett Wharton on Unsplash
Credit: Brett Wharton on Unsplash

So where is the bit about LL&H?  It's in the Declaration of Independence.  Starts the second paragraph:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Now I get it, you're live on the radio and passionate about your point, trying to recall things off the top of the head, so in the excitement it is easy to get mixed up on the history or the quotes.  I'm trying to be cool about this.  But it is almost cringeworthy.  It reflects badly on our education.

Young boy is studying in front of the laptop. E learning, study at home online
Credit: SonerCdem, TSM Media Center

I freely admit not knowing all the amendments in the Bill of Rights by heart, and can't fully quote the 2nd Amendment or any Amendment.  Never read the Montana Constitution, and really should.  To correctly refer to any of these documents, I have to look them up.  And that's what I strongly recommend.  Before jumping into any conversation with anyone about important principles or sayings, unless you really have it memorized, please have the quote readily available to read as written.  We have smartphones and computers that can pull up the quotes in seconds.  Paper copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are readily available, in a thin little booklet.  If referring to a law, have the law at the fingertips.

You will sound significantly smarter reading the actual documents than saying "Well, I don't have it right in front of me, but I know it."

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Surprised? So were we. After all, who expects a state with famously conservative politics and traditional values to have such colorful, crazy-@$$ laws?

PS, it bears repeating that Idaho loves Montana! The Gem State's neighbors to the southwest mirror our own penchant for bizarre laws and quirky customs!

Gallery Credit: Ryan Valenzuela

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