The Bill of Rights, Dumbed Down

May 2, 2009 at 3:51 PM
Here is a version of the first ten amendments to the constitution, also know as the Bill of Rights, that can be understood by pretty much anyone who can read.


We're congress, which means we're representing you, and we're in New York, and it's Wednesday, early Spring, sometime in the 1780s. (So, like, the US has already been a country for a few years.)

Oops. We forgot to include some stuff in the rules and stuff that we wrote when we made the country up from scratch, such as stuff to protect you from being played by the man, and we're adding it in now like we knew we might have to when we wrote it. (So you don't start hating on us, your reps and stuff, later. And so things go the way they should.)

We've decided to make the stuff that we say next part of the rules of our country that we already made. So here goes.

All this stuff fits after the fifth part of the consitution, that paper that talks about the rules of the country that we already wrote a few years back.


1. We can't make any laws about religion, or about what you can talk about, or about what you can write, or that keep you from getting together in groups, or that tell you not to bug us for our mistakes.

2. Bitching cool armies that can like do things well and posses and stuff are cool, and needed if you want a safe country. We can't tell you not to pack heat if you want to.

3. If soldiers want to stay in your house, they gotta ask politely and follow the rules if you say no or yes, either way.

4. We can't grab your crap or poke around your personal space or body without your say-so, unless a judge says so cause somebody else swears up and down that you're seriously fishy. And then the judge has to say exactly what is OK to take from you and the dudes who're bugging you have to stick to just that stuff.

5. If they're saying you did something serious, like a big crime, or something you could die for, you don't have to talk. You can shut up if you want to to keep from being in worse trouble, unless an extra special group of people called a grand jury gather together and decide you gotta talk about it and then it's serious and it's time to blab. But if you're a soldier and there's anything going on like a war or something, you gotta blab right away. But, hey, if you're put through the wringer there are no do-overs. And you don't have to say bad things about yourself. Plus also, you really do get to own your own stuff, like your house land and things like that, and it can't be taken away from you without going through a bunch of legal rigamarole. But the government can take your stuff for everyone to use without all the rigamarole, but they have to pay you back for it, and not short you.

6. If you're nabbed for a crime or something serious, you get to have the whole thing be over with quickly and in front of everyone; they can't hide you away forever. You get your day in court about that crime like everyone else, and it needs to be with a whole bunch of people just like you judging you, called a jury, not just the one bigwig judge dude. Plus it has to play out where ever the crime happened. You get to hear what the other guys are saying about you and about what you did, and you also get to know exactly who they got to back them up and say it, too. You've got to get a fair chance to find people to say good things about you, and you get to lawyer up, so it's all square.

7. When you're sued over more than twenty bucks (which is a lot more money in 1789), you still get to ask for a bunch of people like you, a jury, to judge you instead of the bigwig judge deciding things, but not if you don't ask. If a jury looks into it, nobody gets to sue over that same thing again anywhere in the whole country, except if the law says so.

8. If you're in jail and want to get out, you gotta pay money. That's called bail. Bail can't be too much money. And if you get fined, that can't be too much money either. And punishments have to be normal, not too mean or weird.

9. If we have left one of your rights out, it's still cool. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and you can still demand it.

10. Anything we didn't specifically say here in the country's rules that we get to be in charge of, the states get to be in charge of, or maybe even you get to be in charge of it if the state doesn't grab it up.


Thanks to Alexander Hamilton for coming up with the idea for the Bill of Rights. Please read the original text, now that you got the jist of it.

And please, this is so totally not the Bill of Rights, really. If you can't see that, you're a basket of hammers. I'm just exercising my right to free speech, as affirmed in the REAL Bill of Rights. OK?

I love the framework and beginnings of my country and I really think you will too once you read over the real documents and make darn sure you understand it all. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are ALWAYS at your library. Go read the real things. And if you want me to paraphrase (dumb down) anything for you, I will. Gladly.