Still another poll reveals that most Americans stand staunchly behind the First Amendment, except they think that the press is a little too free, and that you shouldn't be allowed to say certain words, or, y'know, burn the flag. This attitude always puts liberal media types into a comical sputter, most recently columnist Nat Hentoff, who thinks Americans have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution.
Nat's nuts. Americans understand the Constitution. They just think the First Amendment needs some amending. I agree.
Amendment I, Revised
Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, except that it shall be illegal to say anything that is not nice, such as noting that the late, much-beloved Hsing-Hsing was old, fat, lazy, foul-tempered and not so easy on the nose.
See? This can work! And there's no reason to stop with the First Amendment.
For ease of reading, I have taken the salient portion of each amendment and italicized my amendment to it.
[The right of trial by jury shall be preserved] except in such cases where the jurors shall have revealed, under questioning, that they spend their days watching soap operas and professional wrestling and real-life cop shows featuring tanker trucks exploding in slow motion, and that their only reading involves place mats at fast-food restaurants, in which case the defendant shall have a right to select trial by dog.
[No person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb,] except for Orenthal J. Simpson, once we find the knife.
[No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,] nor shall any person serve more than once if, at any point during his term in office, his lawyers require someone else's lawyers to draft numbered paragraphs, with subheadings, clarifying precisely what is meant by such terms as "sexual relations" (or "cannibalism," "necrophilia," etc.).
[No state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,] except that it shall be lawful at any time to seize the pink Cadillacs belonging to salespersons for the cosmetics company known as Mary Kay Inc. and sell them for commercial use at sanitary landfills or by pizza delivery enterprises, or, alternatively, for use by the Pope.
[The right of citizens of the United States who are 18 years of age or older to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age,] excepting persons with metal studs in their tongues.
[The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, making legal the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the United States.] This repeal applies to all intoxicating beverages except cocktails sold with little paper umbrellas, or anything green.
[No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner] except it shall be lawful to arrive at the home of Martha Stewart at any time immediately prior to a major holiday and demand overnight lodging for 1,000 men and their horses.
[Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted,] except for persons adjudged guilty of managing a Health Maintenance Organization in a parsimonious fashion. Said persons shall be placed on a strict diet of prunes and beer and confined for a year to a Port Authority restroom in Trenton, N.J., containing only pay toilets. A sign will warn patrons to beware of panhandlers claiming to need change for a "medical emergency."
[Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived,] excepting, in the vital interests of upholding the First Amendment, salaries paid to writers.
Gene Weingarten, as amended, is a writer and editor for The Post's Style section.