Posts Tagged ‘rights’

Liberty’s Last Gasps

Monday, May 25th, 2015

We live in the time of a desperate struggle no politician seems willing to name.  Our nation is sinking back into the swamp from which it emerged, in a world still dominated by primitive, tribalism from which we seem unable or unwilling to escape.    We do not examine our philosophy any longer, and we do not consider the meaning of our abandonment of principles, much less the result of such evasions.  A culture is only as good as its underlying philosophy, but ours is damaged seemingly beyond repair.  America had always suffered from contradictions, but now they are not exceptional “one-offs” but the the norm.  Those of us who have bothered to understand these dire problems have grown weary, and I am among those who no longer wish to repeat the same things, because the intended audience seems unmoved.  We are giving away our liberty, and for all of the missteps of the last two-hundred years, America survived despite them, but this situation will not persist indefinitely.  If the America our founders had envisioned is to be reborn, rejuvenated, and revived, we must do the work.  We must explain it.  We must be its advocates.  We must be willing to have the arguments.  Whether America will survive or perish, it is up to us to make its case, but to do so, we must first understand what had made America.

To understand what had been unique about America, let us consider that feature, the underlying notion, which had been at the heart of its founding, its growth, and its success.  Let us be careful to carve out only that which had made this country substantially different from all the others, lest we fall into the trap of misidentifying its greatest virtues.  Among all the things one might say about America, it’s most fundamental principle had been that “man is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  Whether you took that endowment to be a product of “Nature or Nature’s God,” the simplicity of this idea is that which had set America apart.  For the first time in all of human history, a government was formed that declared that it was not the ultimate arbiter and owner of all men under the sphere of its control.  In all other systems before it, and all the systems arising since, men were chattel of the state in some form or fashion. In short, they were still property of the tribe.   This was true whether you were subject to the “Divine Right of Kings,” or property of the collective as in the Soviet Union.  This has remained true in all the welfare states of Europe, and with a sickening degree of rapidity, has been increasingly adopted here in the United States over the last century.  These are the definitions of statism.  America had been the first system to reject statism.

There are those who will immediately critique the American experiment because it permitted slavery for most of its first one-hundred years.  Despicable though that institution had been, what they hope you will not notice about the former American institution of slavery, now dead more than one-and-one-half centuries, is that which it had not been: Ownership of men by the state.  This distinction, while superficial and meaningless to the objects of slavery, was the only reason the practice could be ended.  Once ended, America was a country without men as chattel.  In fact, it was the only period in all of human history in which such a society ever existed.  It was the period of the greatest unrivaled growth and economic prosperity generated by man.  All the prosperity that has followed was born of this era.  We linger as a modern society now, our vestiges of civilization now only a facade, because of the achievements of that industrial age, the age of capitalism.  It is only recently that the bequeath of that generation is finally running out of steam, because we have destroyed its underpinnings in degrees and steps ever since.  We have permitted the destruction of liberty, and slowly, in bits and pieces, returned mankind to the ownership of the state.  What we face today is only the last act of a play set in motion more than a century ago, by men whose motives were short-run and political.  It was the birth of national “pragmatism.”

The principle that man is an end in and of himself, without reference to another soul, had been the bedrock of America.  That principle has been polluted, deprecated, denounced, and demolished.  Now we see the abysmal spectacle of man the slave to man via the commands of the state.  We have escaped only to permit ourselves to again become captive to the same old treachery.  In what other manner can you explain the idea that a person subject to the laws of the United States must now be held to pay support for every artifact of modern convenience for every other soul?  How else can one explain Obamacare, SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, AFDC, WIC, Section 8 Housing, “Obama-phones,” “Free” Internet, and all the myriad other “benefits” or “entitlements” of our allegedly civilized age?  We have no need to complain of a military-industrial complex, or of foreign aid, for all the evils they may impose, because these represent a pittance of the national expenditure when compared with all the rest.   No, what we have permitted, at first in small pieces and by small enumerations, is the enslavement of all men to all men via the artifices of the state.

We love to speak of our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion and the press, and our right to keep and bear arms, but these too are now taking a beating under the enslavement of all to all.  You have the right to free speech lest you offend somebody.  You have the right of free exercise of religion lest it offend somebody.  You have the right of a free press, but no press anywhere, except perhaps in small ways in the blogosphere is free any longer.  You have the right to bear arms in your own defense, but only in such fashion as it doesn’t offend or frighten anybody, or permit you the ability to actually repel somebody who might attack you.  You have the right to pursue happiness, but no right to hold onto the material implementations of happiness that your own exertions may have afforded to you otherwise.  These liberties were all born of the notion that no man is owned by the state, and yet slowly and seemingly irretrievably, these “rights” have been yielded back to the state.  Still, these are mere symptoms of the greater disease that is rotting away the core and health of the American political environment.  The root of this disease is philosophical, but it will not be cured by political slogans.

Men must not be owned, either directly by other men, or through a surrogate called “the state” or “society.”  So long as we permit this idea to fester and grow, it is a cancer slowly metastasizing to all parts of the body of American culture and politics.  It has destroyed our philosophy.  It has permitted egregious inconsistencies and contradictions in our laws.  It has enabled the would-be slave-masters to re-establish a foothold in a wider fashion than nineteenth century slavery ever could.  What we have permitted to be lost is the philosophical core of our argument, and every retreat or defeat in politics of the last century has been merely a symptom of the surrender of this principle: Man is endowed with unalienable rights, and it is governments’ sole legitimate purpose to defend them.  Instead, we now see that government has become the worst offender, and we wonder why we can make no ground on subsidiary concretes.

If you wish to salvage America, if it is to be done at all, the only answer is to restore in law and in fact the philosophy that holds man as his own rightful property, and his life and his liberties as the material implementation of that fact.  Please do not bother about statist notions of “obligations” or “responsibilities” of free men.  The only actual, logical “obligation” of a free man is to respect those same rights among other men, and his only collectivized “responsibility” is to pay for the upholding of those rights among all men.  This is the sole justification of governments, and it is the sole reason that any form of taxation is logically (and morally) permissible.  This means a court system, to resolve disputes among men; a policing mechanism, to apprehend those who violate the rights of men; a national defense to protect against massive attacks on the rights of men.  Deprived of the ability to use the power of the state as a gun aimed at the heads of other men in the name of their own peculiar interests, with the threat of a watchful state waiting to punish such aggressors, men must deal with one another by volitional means, i.e., “free trade” or “commerce.”

This had been our founders’ vision.  To the degree they failed to “perfect” it, they nevertheless left us the means by which to do so.  Instead, we have tarnished their ideals, and rejected their core philosophy in favor of the “pragmatic” expediencies of the moment.  We have failed to educate our young, and we have failed to remind ourselves why it is that America had been different, and why there was so much to be gained here for all men, everywhere.  It was not the material wealth of America’s resources that permitted her growth, but the idea at the heart of its laws and traditions that each person is an end in themselves, and that no person or collection of persons had the authority to disparage those rights.  Today, rights are being disparaged and deprecated at a mind-numbing pace, and we have none to blame but ourselves.  If we are to resurrect liberty from its dying gasps, we must know and publicly identify the cause of its impending death, and we must not shrink from standing in the breech in liberty’s waning moments.  Stand there, and others will accompany you, bolstered by your courage.  If not, we’ve already lost.

The Right to Live Without Fear?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

MSGT CJ Grisham

In my area, I’ve been monitoring a case involving Army Master Sergeant Christopher “CJ” Grisham, who was unnecessarily assaulted, disarmed, and arrested by Temple policeman Steve Ermis while out on a hike with his son.  The case went to trial this week, and at its end, there was a hung jury with five of six jurors finding Grisham “guilty” on the class B misdemeanor charge of “interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duties.”  Prosecutors will indeed try the case again.  Apart from the preposterous expense of re-trying the case, and ignoring the biased manner in which the court trial was carried out by visiting judge Neal Richardson, there remains the simple relevant fact that at least five of the jurors were able to discern: CJ committed no crime.  He and his son were walking along a roadside in a rural part of Temple, the elder Grisham with an AR-15 slung from his neck, as well as his concealed handgun. There is no law against openly carrying a long-gun in Texas, and Grisham has a concealed handgun license, but as usual, there’s always somebody in a hurry to claim offense or that they had been in fear.

It was such a caller to Temple PD who initiated this case.  I want to address this post particularly to such people, as perhaps best represented by a person who wrote a letter to the Temple Daily Telegram, or who otherwise claim some offense against their psychological state: Get over it.  Your fears do not invalidate the rights of your fellow citizens.

Let us first stipulate that we have an obnoxiously large proportion of our society that no longer understands what constitutes a “right.”  I place the blame for this at the feet of a failed education system and failed parenting, as well as an ever-growing statist regime.  Examples of rights are things like free speech, free exercise of religion, freedom from wanton search and seizure, and freedom to self-defense and its implements(the right to keep and bear arms, for instance.) Things for which there can be no right would include “a right to food,” or “a right to health-care,” or a “right to education,” among many others.  Added to these material things provided by others to which one can have no legitimate right, there are also intangible things to which one can have no right.  For instance, our founding documents specify a “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Neither does it demand simply “happiness,” nor does it suggest that such happiness as one may pursue ought to be provided by others.  This is because it is preposterous to suggest that if you’re unhappy, somehow, somebody will compelled to make you happy.  This is because your emotional or psychological state is entirely your affair.  Knowing this, let us examine the preposterous, childlike, almost infantile claim of those who wish government to protect them from “fear.”

One of the letter-writers to the Temple Daily Telegram attempted to make this case:  CJ Grisham may have a right to carry a gun, but in public spaces,  her fear should trump this.  Because the writer is afraid of guns, all who own guns must therefore yield the right to possess them.  Consider the following from the Temple Daily Telegram, under the title My Rights vs. his:

“I would like to say “thank you” to Temple Council members for not allowing Sgt. Christopher J. Grisham to dictate how they address the issue of carrying guns wherever someone chooses. The Second Amendment gives him or anyone the right to “own” a gun, when legal. However, it does not give them the right to impose their rights on everyone else. His rights end when they infringe upon my right to feel safe and free of fear when I go outside of my home and see people carrying guns.”

“Impose?”  This is the sort of inverted logic I expect from a third-grader.  It evinces a complete misunderstanding of the entire concept of rights.  If we are to subject the rights of citizens to the random, irrational and entirely variable fears of all other citizens, we must immediately embark upon a program to build a vast prison able to contain all seven billion humans, who once imprisoned must never be let out.  I might claim, and it would be true, that I am afraid for my life due to idiotic letter-writers who demand the disarming of their fellow citizens.  Let us now hold such letter-writers in prison, or at least prevent them from writing further correspondence lest I or others of a similar mindset be unnecessarily fearful.  We can extend this putrid argument of the timid to virtually any and every issue.  Once one has embarked down this path, there is no turning back.  CJ Grisham did not impose anything on any person.  He was minding his own business, on a hike with his son, when a police officer arrived to impose sanctions on him for the sake of some caller’s irrational fear, due to their ignorance of both the law and the concept of rights, or simply to malice.  No, we must not permit such folly to determine when rights end, or there will be no rights of any sort: No cars, no trucks, no airplanes, and no houses. No people.  Some one is fearful of virtually any thing, any one, or any action possible to imagine.

A sane adults’ emotional or psychological state is entirely under his or her control.  I am not responsible for how you feel.  CJ Grisham  was not responsible for the dubious emotional state of the caller who observed him walking alongside a rural road armed with a rifle.  I walk my property frequently with firearms in-hand.  Thankfully, I live far enough outside city limits that most passersby seem to recognize nothing particularly threatening or untoward about an armed man in the country.  Sadly, this is not always the case, and despite the fact that Grisham was breaking no laws, violating no rights, and frankly “imposing” nothing whatsoever on any other person, he was unnecessarily disarmed, assaulted, and arrested by a Temple police officer responding to that call.  If you want to know how tyranny grows, it is due in large measure to the sort of numb-skulls  who profess to be frightened of this or that.  What they seek is a peace of mind absent any other humans, and far too many public officials are willing to seek power by claiming to serve that need. Only in death can any person rightly expect to obtain a “freedom from fear,” but ultimately, death, its threat, and its implements are the sole tools available to politicians who promise it.

Consider Franklin Roosevelt’s so-called “Second Bill of Rights,” a litany of things to be provided, including mental or emotional states.  It would have been better to have termed it a “Bill of Violations of Rights,” would we have been honest.  Obama-care is a response to the very same thing: Some people must have their rights to life, liberty, and property denied due to the wants, wishes, and fantasies of others.  This practice of tyrants creating conflicts between the actual rights of some people and the wishes of some others is not new.  What is new has been the rapid advance of this bankrupt theory into our American culture.  Due to faulty education, negligent parenting, and a vast political engine based on exploiting human weakness, America has arrived at the point in history where it must now fail for the lack of individual rights and the courage that had maintained them.  “Rights” as conceived by our founders are disappearing under the crush of timid, slothful, morally-confused people with the ethics and standards of our lowest common denominator.  The hopeful aspect of Grisham’s mistrial is that one of the six jurors ultimately understood what had been at stake.  When CJ Grisham is re-tried, I earnestly hope that more who have understood the concept of rights will be on his jury.

At least five more.

You may remember the viral video of the event:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8r4MK3R4PI]

Editor’s Note: The Temple Daily Telegram is a paid subscription site for much of its content.  The letter posted is part of that content, and therefore not all of it is available without subscription.  I wouldn’t recommend the Temple Daily Telegram to any person, even were its articles available at no cost.  It is one of several regional newspapers of the local establishment, pandering primarily to cronies.  While there are occasionally stories or columns that contradict the party line, it remains our local version of Pravda, of former Soviet Union character. Update: The juror verdict count was earlier reported as 5 not guilty, and 1 guilty. Subsequent information provided to this blog substantiates the notion that this was actually backwards.

Obama Claims “Healthcare Is a Right”

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

What Rights?

Barack Obama is nothing if not audacious.  It takes a bold liar to assert a falsehood with such vigorous certitude before such a large audience.  It may be that he gets away with it because most of his audiences are hand-picked and vetted to eliminate rational people, relying instead on mobs of ignoramuses wherever he goes.  One could hope that so many Americans would not be so chillingly vapid in their thinking, but then again, they have elected and re-elected a man who has lied to them repeatedly and fearlessly.  Such a spectacle is only possible because so many people refuse to bother themselves with logic, and instead operate entirely on the basis of their wishes, projected into the political sphere.  Ayn Rand [at least] once characterized such primitive atavism by comparing these politicians to cavemen.  It’s true.  In order to believe health-care is a right, never mind “affordable” health-care, one must arrive at the presupposition that the lives of other men and women exist at the disposal of any taker.  It is to regard one’s fellow persons as slaves, so while Obama prattles on in contrived, dismissive sarcasm over the question, berating the Obama-care’s critics for calling the program the most dangerous law ever passed,  somebody somewhere should take the time to explain to Americans why this law is worse even than the fugitive slave act, over the din of the chuckling drones.  Health-care cannot be a right while men and women are free.

The first question we must ask is: “What is a right?” Some time ago, I answered that question when prompted by a font of Obamtastic ignorance on the subject of Internet access.  Here was my answer:

“A right is a natural entitlement of liberty that requires the consent of no others for its exercise, and imposes no positive obligation upon any other.  If what you propose requires the actions, property, or consent of others, it cannot be a “right.”

Let us consider some rights as contemplated by our founders and the philosophical understanding of the enlightened age, arising from such men as John Locke, among others.  Our founders codified several such rights, and those rights are under assault by government.  Free speech.  Free exercise of religion. The right to keep and bear arms.  The right to one’s life and liberty. The right to self-determination.  The right to be secure in one’s property, papers and effects from unreasonable search and seizure.  The right to obtain legal representation.  The right to a speedy trial.  The right to equal protection under law, that is, equitable treatment by government.  One has a right to one’s income, one’s life and all the things one’s labor(physical or intellectual) produce.

Let us now consider the President’s oafish, dictatorial claim:  That others must be held to provide medical services to any who may come to want or need them.  After all, as Mark Levin pointed out recently, if Health-care is truly a right, then government must not be permitted to create any death panels, or limit any sort of care you might want or need.  Of course, Obama hadn’t meant it when he said it, but he wanted those poor befuddled and bedazzled wishers in his audience to believe it. Instead, what Obama-care creates is dependency,  misery, and slavery.

If Obama and the Democrats(and not a few dastardly Republicans) have their way, they will take over health-care in the United States in its entirety.  Doctors will be fewer, and government will control them. Since no honest or competent practitioner will long subsist in such an environment, only the incompetent and the dangerously sloppy will remain.  No decent person will choose to remain a slave to a government system if they have other options, and the caliber of people who comprise the average medical school student historically suggests that these are capable people who have nearly unlimited career choices before them.  There will be a few great doctors who hang on until retirement, or until they can take it no longer, committed and devoted to their patients, but within a generation, most of the competent doctors will be gone, replaced by incompetents who one wouldn’t voluntarily permit to lance a boil on one’s buttock.  They will be inept and sloppy.  They will be attitudinally-corrupted.  Having chosen to live as a slave, wouldn’t you be resentful after a time?

How can it be a right for one man to dictate the life of another?  How can it be the right of some claimant to reach into the pocket or purse of another and extract cash at will, or make demands of another person’s time and labor? Only in a system in which slavery or indentured servitude is permissible can one find such a circumstance, and yet this is precisely what the President laughs-off as less than dangerous.  Of course, it’s far worse than this implies, because if he has his way, the government will become the sole source(single-payer) and possess a monopoly over the entire medical field.  Only then will the chuckling morons discover how little like a right health-care really is, as they are denied life-saving surgeries and treatments, and they are compelled to pay whatever price the government demands.  They will discover that theirs is a claim without standing, and they will find no recourse anywhere within the borders of the United States.  Since this country is among the few into which you can travel to obtain services on the open market(at present,) once it becomes another victim of the global socialization of health-care, one will find one’s options have run out, excepting perhaps only the super-rich, who will always be able to get their care somewhere, at some price.

This president is a shoddy creature, with a narrow ideological focus and an even narrower mind.  To claim as a right that which others must provide is an infamous attack on the lives and rights of people everywhere.  To do so laughingly expresses a contempt for human life and liberty so thoroughly inculcated as to be dangerously maniacal.  Such master-minds always begin by making such claims, but in the end, they finish by leaving a trail of destruction in their wakes.  Obama is no worse (so far) than his philosophical predecessors, but such a man bears watching, because at any given moment, he may decide to unleash himself from semi-civil, quasi-rational conduct.  Proof of this thesis exists each time one tunes a television to see the latest rant of Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews or Lawrence O’Donnell.  These men offer an insight into the sheer insanity that exists behind the relatively calm demeanor of Barack Obama, and it is precisely that sort of vile creature who can imagine his fellow-man as involuntary servants by claiming a right to their labor, their time, and indeed, their lives.  What may be worse is that for all their pretense and feigned opposition, at least twenty-five Republican senators do not see fit to object.

One cannot have a right to the lives, labors or properties of others, but with a stunted intellect, too many of our countrymen now suppose that because laws may be enacted that would claim otherwise, they are immune from its reach, and therefore safe from its grasp.  Only a people with nothing to offer, fulfilling the exact definition of worthlessness, could imagine their own safety in such a paradigm. This is what we must fight, and it is in the name of life, liberty and the pursuit of our own happiness that we must fight it.  So long as men like Barack Obama imagine other men as their slaves, and servants to their personal whims, there can be no safety in any place or condition on Earth.  It is time for conservatives to demand of their alleged leaders such behavior as would signify their awareness of this mortal threat.  There can be no peace with this, so long as men and women claim to be free.

 

Change: We “Need” – Governed By Necessity

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Do Needs Trump Rights?

One of the most abused and over-used words in the English language is “need.” In all its forms, including “necessity” and “necessary,” there lurks a cruel despot willing to plunder, murder, and enslave any person at any time for almost any imaginable reason. “Need” in all its forms has been the excuse of tyrants throughout history.  It is used to seize those things that the needy want or wish, but cannot or will not themselves provide.  Once America accepted the cult of “need” as a driving rationale for government, it was inevitable that we would see the demise of our nation.  Now we have a President who has elevated the claim of “need” to supersede the assertion of rights.  Ours has become a nation of needs. Let me be clear to all those who use “need” as a bludgeon against your fellow man: You’re monsters, and your self-serving claims of “necessity” will not be forgotten, or forgiven.  “Need” is not a legitimate claim to anything, and until Americans understand this, there will be no chance to restore ours to a nation of rights.

I “need” a million dollars, or so I might claim. You might ask me for what purpose, but if I can’t tell you, or if the purpose is unsatisfactory in your estimation, it won’t matter at all so long as I can get some body of politicians to agree.  The framers of the constitution left in a number of loopholes through which despotism could slither, gaining direct access to our liberties in order to strangle them, one by one.  Your property?  It’s not yours if the government or some favored concern decides it “needs” your land, your chattel, or your money.  The political process now exists solely to rationalize and legitimize some person’s concept of “need” so that once codified in the laws of the land, it will become an unchallenged, irreversible claim for all times upon all persons residing within the nation.

One might claim a “need to eat.”  Everybody needs to eat, right?  Nevertheless, my “need to eat” doesn’t entitle me to walk next door to my neighbor and threaten him with bodily violence unless he feeds me.  His right to his property trumps my alleged need. It doesn’t matter whether I’m a starving bag of bones or a gargantuan tub of lard.  In any civilized society, where the rights of property are observed, a person making such a claim at gunpoint would be considered a criminal and prosecuted as such.  Why then do we permit a third party that profits from the robbery to carry it out without respect to property rights?  The government takes from your wallet, and places it in the empty wallets of others while taking a cut for its administrative troubles, all based on the generalized claim of need: “Everybody needs to eat.”

One might claim a “need to medical care.”  Here, the robbery goes farther and deeper, because the monetary costs of this “need” are not the only thing being redistributed.  Doctors and nurses have their pay capped under such a paradigm because the government claims the bargaining power of aggregated millions.  It can set the price for medical services at any level it likes, and the only choice those who are professionals in the field may do is to simply refuse to participate.  Worse, because government sits atop the heap in judgment of who is most needy or most “deserving” of the redistributed loot, government becomes the arbiter of who will live or die.  Death panels are not imaginary, but are instead a fact of life in a system that is permitted to pay for necessities while determining what those necessities may be.

Let me be perfectly blunt in explaining my position: Your need for a thing, whether goods or services, is not a legitimate claim upon my wallet.  Redirecting your need through a third party charged with meeting your needs at the expense of my bank account is no less evil.  One can claim anything as a need, but spreading the burden of such needs around doesn’t diminish the moral failure, but as Rand famously wrote, merely “multiplies the number of victims.” Rather than taking your whole monthly grocery bill from a single neighbor, you take some tiny fraction of a penny from millions of neighbors, with government at the enforcement arm of your protection racket.  Every person compelled by law to pay for your meal, your education, your medical care, your housing, your “Obama-phone,” or your utilities is right to view you and every person like you as a collection of mobsters, while seeing  government as the enforcers of a vast organized-crime syndicate made up of thugs.

Naturally, the concept of “need” isn’t restricted to individuals or classes of individuals. In 2008, when George W. Bush began the bail-outs that Barack Obama finished, it was all on the basis of a claim to need by vast corporate entities that had become “too big [to permit] to fail.” When Obama bailed out Chrysler and GM, again the claim was that the “need” had been great, and that we would trump the rights of millions of Americans to their wealth for the sake of a “need” by large corporations and trade unions.  The claim of necessity has ever been the tool of thugs and tyrants, and it has always served their interests first, and foremost.  At each instance, the claim of a critical need has been the driving force behind the actions, but it seems too few are willing to demand in response: “Need? By what right?”

It is easy to claim a need. Every person “needs” something.  The question must be: “By what right does one’s need confer a positive obligation upon others to fulfill it?” Unless and until the American people come to see “needs” as “high priority wishes,” the country will continue the moral cannibalism we now practice until such time as it devolves into the literal form.  This will require Americans to ask themselves some extremely consequential and deeply introspective questions about their own behaviors, and if there’s one thing our nation lacks, it is the will among its citizens to strictly critique themselves.  As Americans, our response to any claim of “need” by any person great or small should be met with a question: “By what right do you impose your needs as a claim upon others?”

Ours can be a nation of needs or rights, but it may not long suffer while attempting to be both.

The Question of Federalism and Abortion

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Are These Truths Self-Evident?

On Friday, I brought you the story of Herman Cain’s confusing stance on abortion.  Some of you disagreed with my position on this, citing the notion of federalism as the “out.”  I’m sorry to say that I can’t help but disagree with anybody who tries to evade this issue by pointing to federalism as their escape mechanism.  Federalism is certainly an important principle in our constitutional republic that has been denigrated and dismissed too easily by statists, but in this instance, it’s a concept out of place by virtue of the question at hand.  By the application of federalism that some of you have advanced, I’m confused as to how you see any federal role anywhere in safeguarding any liberty of any American at any time under any circumstances.  Frankly, it’s an absurd claim, and it’s time we debunk it right here, and right now.

Our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, sets forth the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of its citizens as the great pursuit and ultimate object of our government.  Our framers were so concerned that they decided to enshrine certain rights within the Constitution in specific language in what was ultimately adopted as our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to our federal constitution.  I would like it very much if one of the advocates of federalism would explain to me how it is that our federal government protects the freedom of speech, the press, religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to individual due process if the rights in question are subjected to any level of government outside the federal sphere.  Explain to me why it is that we have need of a federal murder statute, if murder is a crime to be handled by the states.  Explain why we have any protections of any sort, including voters’ rights, that supersede local or state laws in many, many instances.

The argument of federalism really has no place in this argument if you believe there is a right to life, and that life begins at conception.  If there is a right to life, that life gets all the same protections of law from the federal all the way down to the individual, otherwise, why bother with the concept of rights at the federal level at all?  Do not suggest to me that you do not want rights enforced at the local level of government by federal observance of these fundamental rights, else how do you support the rulings of the court that have held that the gun laws of Chicago are too restrictive of the right to keep and bear arms, and are a de facto prohibition.  In this case, most of you cry out for the protection of your rights by the federal establishment.  How do you now suggest that federal authority has no effective reach, in the case of abortion?  This is a preposterous dichotomy that does not withstand even momentary consideration.

There were a few who rightly suggested that this is about when “person-hood” begins, and this is the more effective argument.  If one becomes a “person” under the law only at birth, then no form of abortion can be restricted on any grounds.  To effect this discontinuity, however, you would have to define the legal standard of “person-hood” as beginning at conception.  My point to you is that whether you agree with abortion or not, it’s perfectly useless for the debate to focus on any other object but this one.  If abortion is to be illegal, it must be specified that rights commence not at birth, but at conception.  To obfuscate the matter by putting it off to an issue of federalism has already failed miserably: How many state laws restricting abortion have been overturned by the federal judiciary on the basis that a woman’s right to abort falls under the federal protection of some elusive and illusory right to privacy not mentioned in the constitution?

If the question of abortion is to be attacked in a sincere way, it must be confronted on the issue of when rights commence.  Our constitution is silent on the matter, however, our Declaration of Independence speaks to the matter:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Now, armed with that piece, again consider this one:

“…the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”

Once more, if the laws of nature are the point of reference, what does nature tell us about when life commences? A human being becomes an individual at conception, with his own unique genetic code, and from that moment forth, it’s dictated by nature.

You can argue about this indefinitely, but my point to you is that our founders understood that nature dictates the rights of all mankind, and that government exists only to guarantee those rights. They held that God was the author of nature, and in that sense, all rights are therefore God-given, but in any case, as a matter of pure logic, the rights of individuals must be an a priori prerequisite to existence as a person.  If that is the case, the only argument to have is this one.  What I’m saying to you is that this business about Federalism with respect to individual rights negates the entire purpose of the federal government.  If the federal government has no place in the matter of the guarantee of individual rights, then there can be no legitimate purpose to the federal government in any sense.  Again, referencing the Declaration of Independence:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

In this single line is the sole legitimate purpose of our federal government, and indeed any government.  Those of you who would suppose yourselves conservative or libertarian ought to know this well.  To then argue that the abortion debate can be dispensed with by simply passing it off to a lower level of government under the aegis of federalism is to ignore what is the entire purpose of any government, and I simply won’t hear of it.  Not on this site.

What Is a Right?

Monday, August 15th, 2011

By What Right?

Earlier Monday evening, I posted a short article about how activists are pushing to create “broadband Internet Access as a civil right.”  To a strict constitutional constructionist and ardent advocate of natural law like me, who realizes what a right is and a right isn’t, it seems preposterous to suggest that such a thing could be a right.  I say “seemed” because while I knew that there exist people in whose minds such obnoxious notions flourish, I’d never suspected that one would find his way into my email.  Not very many people come to my blog without some understanding of what I believe or to which principles I generally subscribe.  As if to prove the rule by the exception, despite my preconceived notions about my readers, I nevertheless found the following in my email inbox not more than an hour after publishing the earlier  article:

Subject: who made U God?

From: [Name Withheld]

You dont run sh*%! I gotta right to whatever I can get. it’s my world, bro.  You just some old dude in a fu$%@!-up hat. I’ll take YOUR internet, you whinin b*%(&!  Deal with THAT.  everybody deserves fast web access. its our world now, and your gen has to get out of the way cause were gonna get ours!!!

Yes, I’ve edited out some expletives, but minus a little clean-up, this is the actual text. I’ve kept his name out of this because I don’t want anybody sending him e-mails in response, and I don’t have his permission to release his email address.  Nevertheless, I think he deserves an answer, much of which he will either fail to grasp or simply dismiss as the complaint of an “old dude in a fu$%@!-up hat.”  Apart from the fact that I’m 45, and I like my fedora, I am going to answer him here, and send him a link when I’m finished.  I thought I should share it with you because he seems to represent the precise sort of people we must now confront if we are to restore our nation: Violently ignorant, and seemingly beyond our reach, this man-child is exemplar of why the welfare state must be demolished.

[Man-Child]: I’ll do my best to answer you without over-complicating the matter, knowing that you’ll likely surf out of here before reading my full answer.  After all, you’re born of the drive-thru and drive-by generation, and the accumulation of knowledge among your peers, apparently increasing in number, is frequently left to random chance and what you talk about amongst yourselves.  On the small chance that you wound up on my site wanting actual information, I’m prepared to offer it to you in a way I hope you’ll understand.

I’m betting you own a cell phone.  It’s probably one of those nifty smart-phones with all the latest apps and features.  Your generation seems addicted to the things, but I’d like to ask you some questions about it: Did you buy it?  Do you pay for a monthly plan?  Do you know how it works?  Do you know how your signal finds its way to your friend, either across the street or on the other end of the country?  Do you know how that signal is formatted?  Do you know what a packet is?  Do you understand subnets? Left to you, could you replicate any part of the technology?  Who does know, if you don’t?  What do you suppose would happen to your precious phone if not for the people from whom you now threaten to steal a so-called “right?”

Do you know what a right is?  A right is a natural entitlement of liberty that requires the consent of no others for its exercise, and imposes no positive obligation upon any other.  If what you propose requires the actions or consent of others, it cannot be a “right.”

You have a right to free speech.  You may not require me to purchase a printing press or a television station on which to express it. You can’t force me to do anything.  You can’t even force me to listen.  Your right extends solely to the limits of your own person, and in no way to the persons or properties of others.

You have a right to worship as you please, or not worship at all. You may not demand that I build for you a church in which to practice your religion, nor may you burn mine down if it offends you.  Neither may you compel me to believe as you do, just as I have no right to compel you to my beliefs. There can be no right to violate the rights of others.

Our system of laws is predicated on the notion that these natural rights, codified among many others in our Bill of Rights, must be guaranteed to all people, equally.  You propose to take my highspeed Internet access.  How will you do that?  For what period do you think I or others would willingly pay your bill?

If you want the proof that there can be no such thing as a right to free Internet service, ask yourself this: What will happen if the people who you would compel to provide it simply refused?  Would you beat them all up?  Would you kill them?  Would you threaten all their families?  Even if you wiped all of them out, could you make it work in their absence, or repair it when it inevitably breaks, or otherwise repair the equipment when it simply wears out?  Will you build new equipment?  How? In the factories you’ll seize because you believe you have a right to them too?

All it takes to deny your alleged “right” is that the people who you would coerce to provide it answer you with a single word, and mean it.  That word is: No!

Now consider your right to free speech: Without doing violence to you, or threatening it, how can anybody deny your speech? They cannot.  All they can do is ignore it, or answer it, or urge others to use those same alternatives.  This is how you know it’s a right.

In much the same way, we each have a natural right to self-defense as the first personal guarantee of all our rights.  It is true that if your mob is large enough, you will eventually subdue even that right, but in fairness, I must tell you that you may wish to cower at the rear, because the front ranks of your mob will catch literal hell for at least a little while.

Most of the other people from whom you’ll seek to claim your imagined “right to Internet access” will probably feel approximately the same as me, but the simple fact is that in the end, you can only have such a “right” temporarily at best. Prepare yourself for the day that your bullying attitude no longer holds sway in the public discourse. Many Americans now stand ready to repel you, if need be, although most, myself included, still have some hope that you will amend your ways, and perhaps participate with the rest of us in paying for the things you desire by your own efforts and labors, as we have done.

The choice is ultimately yours, but you have no right to that which is not your own by right, and coercion, theft and extortion don’t make a thing yours by right.  Earning it does. Give it a try.  Generations of Americans have done so, and I think you’ll find it infinitely more pleasing in the long run than the approach you now suggest.

Thank you.

Mark [America]