Of Rights And Their Origin

I have a question for some of you. Where do you think your rights come from? The reason I ask is because, aside from a few of my like-minded friends, I think the vast majority of the people in this country don’t have the faintest idea. Let me ask you another question. Do you think your government grants you your rights? Please don’t say yes, because if you do you are beyond hope.

Hopefully most of you have, at least, heard of the Bill of Rights, regardless of whether you have any idea which rights it protects. Yet it wouldn’t surprise me if most people thought the rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights are the only rights we have. Not so. The Ninth Amendment clearly states that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” In language you can understand, what the means is that just because a certain right is not found anywhere in the Constitution does not mean it does not exist.

Getting back to my question, do you think that government grants you your rights? Well let me see, our Constitution was ratified in 1789, our Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, and the first colonists settled in Jamestown Virginia in 1607. So, if you think that our government, which was established in 1789, granted us our rights, do you mean to imply that for the nearly two centuries after the first colonists settled in Jamestown they had no rights? After all, by your logic if government grants you your rights, and since our government was not established until 1789 then all those living in America prior to its establishment had no rights.

On the other hand, if the colonists did indeed have rights prior to the establishment of our government, then how can anyone believe that the people of this country would establish a system of government for the purpose of limiting them? In fact, the reverse is true, government was established to protect our rights as James Madison plainly stated, “It is sufficiently obvious, that persons now and property are the two great subjects on which governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which government was instituted.” It can’t get any clearer than that.

I know history is a boring subject for most, but just think back to the very beginning of time when man first made his appearance on this planet, did government also suddenly make an appearance so that it might grant man his rights? No, in the very beginning man was a solitary creature whose survival depended upon his ability to work; to till the soil and plant crops, or to hunt for meat, and also to find shelter from the elements. If man failed to do any of these things he perished.

That right there is the origin of man’s rights, a condition in which he is free to do as he desires without constraint. But it also brings about another very important point, that he alone is responsible for the outcomes of the choices he makes.

It wasn’t until man joined civil societies that rules or laws were imposed upon him. In most cases these rules were designed not to restrict mans rights, but to safeguard them so that others may not try to limit his enjoyment of them. And so it was when our Founders established our system of government, they designed it to manage the most basic of our nation’s affairs, while granting the people almost unrestricted freedom to exercise their rights. As Frederic Bastiat wrote in his treatise The Law, ” Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

So, if man existed before government, and if man had rights prior to the existence of government, it follows that government could not have granted man his rights. It also follows that government either exists to protect mans rights, or to limit them. In one instance man is free, in the other he is a slave to those who curtail his rights. It’s that simple. But I’d like you think about something Frederic Bastiat said way back in 1850, “Life, faculties, production–in other words, individuality, liberty, property―this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.”

In fact, the Supreme Court ruled pretty much the very same thing back in 1943, “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

You may not agree with my view, you may actually hate it, but it is supported by plenty of evidence, our rights come from our Creator, and that the purpose of government is to protect those rights, not to enact laws to restrict them, no matter how much you believe doing so will serve the public good.

In an 1824 letter, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.” Just in case some of you reading this do not know what inherent and unalienable mean, inherent means that it is part of the very nature of something, and therefore permanently characteristic of it; and unalienable means that it is incapable of being alienated, that is, sold or transferred. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, pg 1533)

Our Constitution was written to establish a system of government to manage the basic affairs of our nation while preserving the liberty of the people who inhabit the states. It is the Supreme Law of the land, superseding all other laws. Yet it did not create a government of unlimited powers. The 10th Amendment clearly states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

So the Constitution grants certain powers to the federal government, while it leaves others to the states. And since it is the Supreme Law of the Land, both the federal and state governments are bound by oath to obey it. Then, if the Bill of Rights, having been properly ratified, is also part of the Constitution, then the rights it lists are protected from both intrusion by the federal, AND the state governments.

Now there is something else Bastiat said back in 1850 that I’d like for you to read, “The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose!” This is the America we live in today, where government enacts laws which are contrary to the purpose for which governments are established, and they, by use of various ‘enforcement’ agencies impose their will upon the people.

I fully understand that for a society to survive some semblance of order must be maintained, and that laws must be enacted to provide for the public safety, and that officers of the law be hired to serve and protect the people. But when laws are enacted which are contrary to the purpose for which government was created, i.e. laws that infringe upon our inherent and unalienable rights, and when law enforcement agents become mere enforcers of these perverted laws, we live in a police state. In a police state the people have no recourse to the law, the law is what those in power say it is, and it is enforced without mercy. In a police state it does not matter that someone like me can provide a long list of quotes, or court rulings, those in power simply disregard what is just, and enforce the law as they see it.

But what is the law…honestly? According to Bastiat the law is nothing more than the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. Let that sink in…

Bastiat continues by saying, “Each of us has a natural right—from God—to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?

If every person has the right to defend—even by force—his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right—its reason for existing, its lawfulness—is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force—for the same reason—cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.”

Therefore, if one of the primary functions of government is to safeguard our rights, why is it that so many people clamor for their rights to be restricted? Why is it that any of us tolerate our rights being restricted? Is it because too many don’t know, or understand their rights? Or could it be that they have fallen prey to political correctness, fallen victims to fear, that they would so willingly give up their rights just to feel safer, or not be offended? In either case those who would so willingly give up their rights are fools.

Let me tell you a dirty little secret, you do not have the right to NOT BE offended. When I was growing up my parents used to tell me that sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me. I grew up in an age where people could speak what was on their mind and not have it censored by political correctness. Sure I was taught to exercise common sense and not utter profanities when around certain company, but nowadays it seems that you can’t criticize anything without being told “You can’t say that.”

The First Amendment simply declares that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” And since Congress is the lawmaking entity under our system of government, if Congress cannot abridge our freedom of speech, then the public cannot censure it as well. Neither can the courts rule that certain speech is deemed to be unconstitutional, as all speech is freely protected…even that which ‘offends.’

So if prayer offends you, too bad, you don’t have to participate in it, but you cannot tell people that they are prohibited from praying. But on the flip side you cannot mandate that they pray. Speech, to be truly free, must be something that a person chooses to do of their own volition, not something that is mandated. So all this talk about hate speech, or speech that is offensive to others is merely a means to control our speech, to limit what we can and cannot say, and it is an abridgement of our right to speak freely.

The same goes for the Second Amendment, which states that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It does not say what type arms, what capacity magazines, it merely says arms. The purpose for which the Second Amendment was included in those comprising the Bill of Rights was so that the people might have the means to rise up and shake off their government should it become tyrannical. It would be inconceivable for our Founders to have envisioned a government armed with the most modern of weapons while the people were left holding muskets and flint lock rifles. They would have wanted the people to be as well armed as those who might oppress them.

Therefore any law which requires registration of our personal firearms, and a permit to own or carry them, or a restriction on which type arms we may own would be repugnant to those who understood the purpose for which this amendment was written.

I could go on; how the Fourth and Fifth Amendments have been nearly obliterated with all the laws passed to fight terrorism. But this paper would be far too long were I to go through and list each instance of our rights being infringed by those who have sworn an oath to protect them. Yet there are two rights left in the Bill of Rights which I’d like to take a bit of time discussing; the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which state, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” and “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

As human beings we are free to pursue happiness, security, and even wealth, without our government interfering in our pursuits. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787, “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.”

Nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE, is it among the powers specifically delegated to government that they make take, by force, a portion of your earnings, and then give it to those in need in the form of subsidies, or taxpayer funded social programs. Our government simply does not have the authority to mandate that we give of our income to provide for those less fortunate. If we choose to do so of our own volition that is fine, as that is charity. As George Washington once said, “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.” But again, nowhere is it among the powers granted or government to take from one, and give to another. This includes all manner of subsidies, INCLUDING foreign aid, where our money is given to other countries based upon their ‘need.’

And, at the same time our government does not have the power, nor authority, to mandate that we participate in any form of government funded social programs. Therefore Social Security, Medicare, AND Obamacare cannot be force fed to us, or our participation in these programs be made mandatory. These are simply among those other rights, those mentioned in the Ninth Amendment, of which our government is guilty of violating.

This is no longer the home of the free, as we do not have freedom, we have the appearance of freedom. Sure we can pick and choose which vehicle to buy, what to eat, (and even that is being limited to a certain extent), which clothes to wear, what music to listen to, and what to watch on television. But when it comes to the things that matter, our unalienable rights, we have lost them because we have not stood up for them.

I don’t know if anything I could ever say will change all this. All I do know is that America is now the home of the meek and the land of the slaves. Until we stand up against our oppressors and take back what is rightfully ours, THAT will never change.

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