December 15 in freethought history…

billofrightsDecember 15, 1791 – The Commonwealth of Virginia ratifies the Bill of Rights, thus bringing into effect Amendments 1 through 10 of the United States Constitution. These amendments were meant mostly to protect the rights of citizens (including freedom of religion, of the press, of trial by jury, right to due process, as well as prohibition of excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishment). Ironically, there was some opposition to these proposed amendments: some feared that by listing certain rights we might lose others by omission.

December 15, 2011 – Journalist, social critic and raconteur Christopher Hitchens dies after an 18-month battle with esophageal cancer, aged 62. Hitchens (along with Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris) was one of the so-called “Four Horsemen” of the New Atheism, known for his eloquent and unapologetic critique of religion and vigorous defense of rationalism. His books include The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, God Is Not Great, Hitch-22: A Memoir and Mortality (a collection of essays chronicling his views on death and dying).

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