Brooks Memorial Library will host the second in a series of discussions about the Bill of Rights in the main reading room, 224 Main St. in Brattleboro Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The focus will be on the Second and Third Amendments, two freedoms that address the role of the military in our constitutional democracy. Although the Second Amendment is currently the source of heated disagreements, for most of its life it was known as a sleepy Amendment.
Understood more as a bulwark against a national standing army, the Second Amendment remained largely undebated. Nowadays, each clause is parsed and pressured in a hyper-partisan debate. Debating Our Rights provides participants with an opportunity to hear the various interpretations, not to change minds, but to better understand the debate.
Meg Mott uses historical arguments and legal reasoning to set the stage for a robust debate. First she lays out the various 18th century reasons for the Amendment, such as why an armed population is so crucial to a new republic. Then she explains the arguments on both sides of recent Supreme Court rulings.
“The point of debating our rights,” explains Mott, “is to see how reasonable people disagree about the scope and intention of each Amendment. In a constitutional democracy, even fundamental rights are open to debate.”
Mott says she is particularly excited about the addition of choral music to the Brattleboro events. For the first Debating Our Rights in June, composer Neely Bruce of Wesleyan University and the Festival Harmony singers surprised the audience with Bruce’s rendition of the First Amendment. Bruce is generously returning to Brattleboro in July to once again lead Festival Harmony in an energetic delivery of the Second and Third Amendments.
On Aug. 14, the series, plus singers, will continue with the Fourth Amendment; the right to be secure in one’s home and papers.
Thanks to the Friends of Brooks Memorial Library, the Debating Our Rights series is free and open to the public. The venue is accessible to people in wheelchairs.
For more information call 254-5290 or visit www.brookslibraryvt.org.