Got the creeping martial law blues? Erosion of civil liberties got you down? Well, when the going gets tough, sometimes the tough need to get down, so to speak.

So says Deborah Ross, head of the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

At a teach-in last week on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, Ross spoke to a packed auditorium about expanded federal surveillance, widespread ethnic profiling and the proposed secret military tribunals, developments that paint a bleak picture for civil libertarians. But mark your holiday calendars, Ross says: A day approaches when Americans can band together and celebrate the freedoms they hold dear–and would like to hold onto.

“I have a suggestion for something you all can do to organize and celebrate the Constitution and the liberties that you have,” Ross said. “Here’s my big suggestion: You can have a party on Dec. 15, Bill of Rights Day. This is the birthday of the Bill of Rights. And my hope is that there will be big parties all over this country, so that for one day, during our so-called war on terrorism, we could celebrate what this country is really about.”

Don’t forget to sit down for five minutes, Ross advised, and write your Congressional representatives about the importance of safeguarding fundamental freedoms. But then, raise a glass, cut a rug, paint the town and raise the roof. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution were adopted in 1791–so if ever there was a venerable patriotic occasion worth celebrating, it’s this one.

Besides, Ross said of the upcoming anniversary, “It’s a Saturday … a good night for a party.”