Redistribution of Rights

Whose Rights Are They Anyway?

It’s inevitable in a collapsing civilization that you will observe every sort of ethical and moral inversion conceivable, but there’s also a chance you’ll see something novel. In 2021 America, I think I’ve spotted something happening that ought to cause all Americans a moment of pause. When hate speech legislation began to erupt around the country in the 1990s, many of us thought it a despicable idea, in part because the sort of acts that generally accompany hate speech evince all the hate one need infer from those acts, and because speech does not cause actual harm. Essentially, critics of hate speech legislation adopted the old but true “sticks and stones” argument, and while correct, they also cautioned about the absurd directions a hate speech law could take us as a civilization.  Sadly, they were quite right, and now we’re seeing the development of the most sickening notions. Recently, it’s been proposed that government bureaucrats should be safe from hate speech. In simplest translation, and in most recent application, people wish to protect government officials from criticism, particularly criticism that attaches criminal consequences to the government official’s actions.  Suggesting, for instance, that Dr. Anthony Fauci should face a war crimes tribunal for his apparent involvement in funding the gain-of-function research in the Wuhan lab that now appears to have been the source of SARS-CoV2, a.k.a., COVID-19. This notion, that public officials must not be criticized, and especially mustn’t be accused of crimes, is anathema to free speech, but it’s a growing symptom of a broader threat. Slowly but surely, the bureaucracy is seeking to protect itself, and to empower itself, by depriving Americans of rights while redistributing those rights to itself.

Consider the subject of the Second Amendment. Here we see every level of government working to restrict the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms. The long train of abuses in this area is not merely horrible, but increasingly, we see the government agents employing weaponry denied to American citizens. In some jurisdictions, certain types of ammunition are prohibited to citizens, while police agencies suffer no such limits. More broadly, it is not unusual for police departments to have at its disposal full-auto select-fire weapons. They may have other destructive devices like grenade launchers, and they’re not restricted to purchasing from the shrinking pool of such weapons legally available to citizens. The Armed Forces maintain many millions of small arms to which you have no entitlement. I was in the Army. I’m no less trained or qualified to handle such weapons responsibly than I had been as a young man in uniform, and indeed, I would argue that in most ways, I’m far more qualified and much more responsible in my conduct some thirty years later than I had been in my youth. I also have a good deal more to lose by being irresponsible. The Second Amendment doesn’t specify any type of weapon. It says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say “except for short-barreled shotguns,” or “excluding machineguns.” And yes, such things did exist at the time of its writing and adoption. I don’t wish to have here an argument about the second amendment, but notice the underlying problem: My rights to have a machinegun, for instance, have been stripped from me, while government institutions well beyond the military now legally possess and employ them. My right – your right – has been redistributed to the government or its favored agents.

Consider the matter of religion. What is a religion? A religion is defined variously, but a common description is “an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods. informal : an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.” This begs the question: What is a god? They have an answer for this too: “a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.” In this context, I’ve often argued that for statists, “god” is government. In other contexts, you could argue that they contend “the public interest” (whatever they may claim it it to be at a given time) fits this definition. In our public schools, your children have been prohibited from praying. Teachers are most often prohibited from displaying artifacts or symbols of their faith, such as a cross or crucifix, and in the workplace, similar restrictions apply. Yet in all cases and at all times, public officials claim to tell us what is “in the public interest,” and they do so with a zeal no less ferocious than the most militant religious actors.  Somehow, we’ve permitted the worship of the state and state power in the guise of “the public” to be adopted as a national religion, while we’ve seen our individual right to free exercise of religion diminished and slowly eroded. Bureaucrats are permitted to worship at the altar of false science, and they’ve even taken to re-writing the historical evidence that counters their religious observances. Again, rights explicitly guaranteed to the people have been redistributed to the state, its instrumentalities and agents.

The Ninth Amendment provides: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  This is pretty explicit in terms of its reach, and yet we see precisely the opposite taking effect. In virtually all controversies between citizens and the state, judges routinely blow past this amendment to rule with inverted effect. This amendment tells us that simply because a right isn’t specifically listed and defined in the Constitution, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t mean the government has a right to violate it. Of course, one of the reasons the courts may have avoided giving this amendment any effect in law is that depending upon how the concept of “a right” is defined, one could imagine all sorts of rights that don’t fit that definition. Another problem is that Americans, broadly, don’t understand what is a right, nor do they understand that governments have no rights. Governments have only claims to or grants of authority. In effect, governments have powers, but not rights. What has happened is that we’ve permitted governments to steal our rights and smuggle them into the what should have been a narrow set of their powers. Now, governments and their favored grantees enjoy virtually unlimited exercise of rights that are properly held and exercised solely by the people.

We see this in other areas as well. You’re supposed to be secure in your persons, houses, papers, and effects, according to the fourth amendment, but as in other matters, governments have laundered the violation of these things through nominally private actors – corporations and non-governmental organizations – such that in our modern world, your electronic data is subject to snooping by Apple or Google or any other large corporate interest, to be handed-over to government on request or even without having been asked. Meanwhile, if you approach government, demanding access to public records, every form of dishonesty and malfeasance will be employed to obstruct disclosure of any information the actors within government(or its agents and cohorts) have decided you ought not know. Your putative right to open government has been demolished, and your right to private information has been exploded, all by this same process of the redistribution of your rights from the people to public offices and agents.

This applies to more than the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment.  Consider that while you should properly enjoy a guarantee to freedom of speech, your ability to exercise that right is being demolished, or redistributed to government and government’s favor actors. See Dr. Shiva’s detailed explanation on how government now launders censorship through its private cohorts here to understand how your First Amendment has been gutted for the interests of the state. This isn’t limited to the explicit rights guaranteed in the constitution, nor is my outline here exhaustive in detail. It is possible to evaluate many laws, acts, and orders, as well as court rulings to have been a part of this general redistribution of our liberties to entities that do not rightly possess them. It confronts us daily. Why are car manufacturers shifting to electric vehicles? Is it because the market wants them, or is it because government and its co-conspirators are imposing them? Are they the most economical or “green,” or is this simply somebody’s peculiar desire and interest? In every facet of our lives, our rights to choose and act in accordance with our natural endowment has been abridged, either by governments claiming authority it does not have, or exercising power it has seized by guile, legal gymnastics, or outright force.

All of this is despicable, given that ours was to be a constitutional, representative republic. There may be no solution within the context of our existing government, but to take the approach of the framers in the face of the failures of the Articles of Confederation.  We may need to dissolve this government in its entirety, by adopting a new constitution that supersedes our current governing document.  Do we have the wisdom to actually do so?  Can we obtain sufficient broad public support for such a thing? I suspect it will only be possible when our rights are completely redistributed into the hands of increasingly tyrannical state authorities. At that point, it may take force of arms. We are coming to a departure from civil society, because Americans are and have been accustomed to a broad palette of rights and rather tighter limits on government power in all but a few narrow applications, despite peculiar disagreements among us.  This current circumstance cannot go on indefinitely, so it won’t.  What happens next will be our greatest challenge. We have already answered Franklin’s concern: We have not kept it.  Americans are correct in worrying now that we will not get it back.

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