An article on the process of our human righs being turned into government awarded privileges.
How Rights have evolved into privileges?
by Peter Jones
Recently our own Supreme Court decided that States cannot pass laws outlawing sodomy and other unusual sexual behaviors, you have no individual right to arms (at least none they care to comment on), and you also have no right to political free speech over the nation’s television airwaves within 60 days of a national election. What is going on in America? How is it that the nation’s highest court apparently cannot read and comprehend the simply worded, highest law of the land? “Congress shall pass no law…” and “…Shall not be Infringed” are very strongly worded, very absolute sounding restraints on governmental powers. How did we come to this extreme where our inalienable rights are now “interpretable privileges” and rest solely in the hands of nine black robed, extremely political individuals?
I can remember no other period in my lifetime of 42 years where there was a greater need for statesmen to guard the Constitution and where there was a bigger lack of them in public politics. Each one seeks only his own interests to satisfy their lust for power or wealth. When we allow “compelling State interests” to trump inalienable rights we are asking for trouble. The State’s interests will always be compelling from its own perspective and only coincidentally will they favor individual liberties.
How is it that we The People have allowed Congress, the Executive and Judicial branches of our government to marginalize or legislate away our rights? Let me explain it this way, perhaps you wouldn’t like the way I would choose to exercise my 2nd amendment right and I might take offence at the method you choose to exercise your 1st amendment right. That still doesn’t mean that there should be a law infringing those rights just so you or I can “feel” comfortable and safe. Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened. People with good intentions, honest and hardworking people have irrationally come to the conclusion that rights cannot be absolute because they aren’t comfortable with the way in which individuals choose to exercise them. They fall prey to the “what if” syndrome of proposed theoretical extremes such as “Does that mean you have the right to have personal nuclear weapons?” How absurd! If that is the test of whether or not we allow government to intervene then there is no such thing as an inalienable right. Those rights become privileges subject to “reasonable” regulations (restrictions) such as licensing, prohibitive rules, and outright bans on certain freedoms. Once you begin down the road of “reasonable” regulation of these absolute rights you open a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences.
Webster’s dictionary defines the word reasonable as “Being within the bounds of common sense: arrive home at a reasonable hour.” In their example could you tell me exactly what a reasonable hour to arrive at home is? What time? Is 11:00pm or 2:00am reasonable? Well that depends on whether you are 16 or 32 years old and are you driving your own car or mine? You can see that the definition of “reasonable” in this case is variable and based on my opinion of who you are, what I perceive the circumstances to be, and what the controlling entity, me in this case, thinks of who you are and what the circumstances are. This places an inordinate amount of authority in my hands and allows me to control what you do, where you go, and at what time you will cease doing what you want and return home. This structure might serve well between a parent and a teenager, but it is surely not the proper basis for forming the legal restraints of our society which control the actions of responsible citizens.
Bearing this in mind, can someone please explain to me what the absolute limits are for restrictions on free speech, arms, or the media? You can’t if you base your opinion of what those limits are on relative, non-absolute criteria. How then can we base the laws of this once free country on the concept of “reasonable” restriction of our natural human rights?
Our founders asked us to view critically anyone who even approaches the “jewel of Liberty” and now we find ourselves looking at nine very educated and brilliant people who apparently cannot read and comprehend simple sentences.
I’m not inferring that the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices are stupid. They have become motivated by politics rather than liberty, pushing their own political sensibilities on the American people as Law vs. upholding the Law. They have abandoned their charge to protect that jewel of Liberty.
How else can you explain these judges simply ignoring what’s written in the Constitution and over-riding the highest law of the land under the guise of “compelling State interest”? In fact, would not anything the federal government do fall into this category? Why would the government do anything if it had no interest in doing it? Why would it do those things and expend precious tax payer money on them if the reasons weren’t “compelling”? If that is the sole test for the constitutionality of legislation then Congress’ power is truly unlimited and your rights mean absolutely nothing. If this is what we allow our government to get away with, then in reality you have no rights, only State sanctioned privileges that can be restricted or revoked at any time and for any reason! Sobering thought isn’t it?
I believe that America is at the crossroads. Germany in the 1930’s came to the same cross roads, so did Stalin’s Russia and Pol Pot’s Cambodia. All it takes for tyranny to flourish is for good people to do nothing. Over 150 million people died at the hands of their own, tyrannical governments during the 20th century.
If you think it can’t or won’t happen here might I remind you of that incident in Waco Texas where 80 men, women and children where burned to death by our own federal government. Their only “crime” was possibly to have been in possession of one or more machine guns without having paid the proper taxes on them. The sentence was death without the benefit of being proven guilty.
We still have a chance to make a difference without resorting to more forceful means but I question whether many of the good people of America have the will to act before it’s too late. Our government has proved one thing for sure: it is out of control and has exceeded its authority as defined by the Constitution. Don’t believe me? Get a copy and read the whole thing.
The Revolutionary War, from which our nation was forged, was waged due to two distinct abuses of power by the British crown, unfair taxation and gun control. We are on very familiar ground! Unless we The People find the means to stop the abuses of power of our government we will certainly be looking at a day when our country will once again be torn by the fury of war. Our children will learn of it with their own eyes because it will be fought among us and around our own homes. For our children’s sake we must act!
Winston Churchill once was quoted as saying, “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
With your liberty and the liberty of your children hanging in the balance what will you do? Will you go quietly into the same voting booth and mindlessly vote the same thieves and liars back into office? Each day becoming more the slave of an oppressive State than the day before? Will you refuse the yoke of slavery or willingly accept the chain and collar that is waiting for you and your family? This is the question each of you must answer and the fate of your liberty depends upon how we answer it.
The course of history will indeed be changed; the only difference is that we still have the means to determine the direction and manner of that change.
(Published in the Sunday January 4, 2004 Waterbury Republican-America newspaper.)