A few weeks ago, I posted an article, Congress Shall Make No Law Concerning Tebowing and Other Religious Freedoms. I decided a little grammar lesson would help clarify one section: defining 2 prepositions. Who would ever think prepositions could really make a powerful difference – yet they do.
A preposition can go through a law, above a law, below a law, with a law, behind a law, against a law, around a law, opposite a law, outside a law – just like our judicial system.
NPR recently did a piece on Tim Tebow. One commenter said our country ought to have “Freedom from Religion.” Another suggested he should be penalized 15 yards for making unbelievers uncomfortable – that football should be a “religi-osity”-free zone.
Freedom of Religion: of used as “an act of determining; “to fix conclusively or authoritatively(Merriam Webster)”; “Hence of is the sign of the genitive case, the case that denotes production; proceeding out of, and a derivative sense denoting possession or property”(1828 Noah Webster Dictionary).
Freedom from Religion: from used as a function word to indicate physical separation or an act or condition of removal, abstention, exclusion, release, subtraction, or differentiation.
Words make a difference.
Freedom from Religion, that is not what our Constitution says – and words have meaning, legal meaning. The U.S. Constitution is a Contract with U.S. people.
Whoever said grammar was boring didn’t understand the games that could be played with it – or the freedoms that could be lost by not grasping the depth and breadth of each word’s legal power – even in a seemingly silly little preposition.