Protect the right to petition

Holly New

Our right to petition is guaranteed to us under the First Amendment, but I think it’s gone too far.

In later November, a petition was filed to President Barack Obama for the removal of Jerry Jones, owner and GM of the Dallas Cowboys. The petition cited Jones as an “over controlling, delusional, oppressive dictator” who has caused Cowboy fans “extreme mental and emotional duress.”

Yes, that is as ridiculous as it sounds.

Besides the point that Obama has no say or power over the internal workings of the NFL, this petition had me thinking—where do these petitions come from?

Last year, the White House launched the We the People page, which allows people to file and sign petitions to the president. If a petition gains more than 25,000 signatures within 30 days of posting, the White House may read it and file a response.

The Dallas Cowboys petition has since been removed, but other petitions have caught my eye.

The most popular—or the one with the most signatures—is a petition for the state of Texas to secede from the Union. As of Tuesday afternoon, this petition had more than 118,000 signatures. In fact, since the website’s creation, petitions to secede have surfaced from every state.

From these, we can understand that there is a great amount of people who do not like the direction this country is under; these petitions make that point clear.

Some petitions aim to increase awareness on issues many are uninformed about. One petition exposed me to issues surrounding a law that allows military commanders to court-martial troops who attempt suicide, and another pointed out the anti-homosexuality bill to be voted on in Uganda, which would convict people for being in same-sex relationships and give them harsh sentences, including prison time.

Others are meant (hopefully) to be silly. The latest craze to hit the petitions page is the call for the government to begin construction on a Death Star by 2016 as a means to spur job creation. Despite possible space exploration benefits, perhaps we should put our funds elsewhere.

Finally, some petitions are just dumb. One petition urges the president to claim the guitar as the national instrument, while another presses Obama to “repeal the Second Law of Thermodynamics for a more perfect heat transfer.”

But after all the weird and utterly impossible petitions, I have found one I am sure to back: the petition to end all White House petitions. “We ask Barack Obama to admit that this is a mockery of democratic process and immediately dissolve this joke of a website,” the petition reads.

And I can’t help but to agree.