If the scientific community is correct, then man has been around for roughly 4800 years. Yet it wasn’t until 1791 A.D. that our nation’s Bill of Rights was added to our Constitution. So, what did the Bill of Rights do; did it introduce a new profound idea, that being that men have rights; or did it merely state the obvious and declare that the rights listed in those first ten amendments were recognized, and that is was not within the power or authority of the government to infringe upon them?
If people would take just a little bit of time and learn about the process by which our Constitution came into existence, and the difficulties encountered by those who supported it, then they would realize that the reason the Bill of Rights existed is because the majority of those who opposed the Constitution feared that it did not provide adequate safeguards against governmental intrusion upon their pre-existing rights. As former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan said, “The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to “create” rights. Rather they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.”
However, along with a right comes the responsibility to exercise it in a manner that does not endanger the safety of others, nor can you, in any fashion, restrict others from exercising their rights as well. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”
Now let me give you a simple example to explain this concept. Let’s say you like music…a lot! Do I have the right to tell you that you cannot listen to it, or that I can dictate what kind of music you must listen to? No, you are free to listen to whatever music you want, as often as you want. BUT, if it is 2 a.m. and I am trying to sleep, and you are playing your music so loud that I cannot do so, YOU are abusing your right and preventing me from enjoying my right to a peaceful night’s sleep. You have the right to listen to your music, but it is saddled with the responsibility to listen to it at a reasonable level so as not to bother your neighbors.
Let’s take this a step further now. Say you like to eat…a lot. Do I have the right to tell you what you can, or cannot eat? No, you can eat whatever you want, in whatever quantities you want? But, if by your unhealthy eating habits you become so overweight that it causes you to become unable to function at your job; or if your unhealthy eating causes you to come down with diabetes or some form of heart disease, you DO NOT have the right to demand that I subsidize your life or your medical care with tax dollars taken from MY paycheck. You made the choice to eat unhealthy foods, and you alone must bear the responsibility for your choice.
Now there is something about these two examples that I would like to take a moment to discuss. If you would take a moment to read the Bill of Rights you will see that there is no mention of the right to listen to music, or the right to eat for that matter. So, does that mean that those rights do not exist? Hardly.
When James Madison first proposed the amendments under consideration for the Bill of Rights, he delivered a speech before the House of Representatives, in which he said, “It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration, and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the general government, and were consequently insecure.”
In fact, that is the purpose for the Ninth Amendment, which states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Bill of Rights would have been a full length book had the Framers sat down and listed every single right the people retained under the Constitution. Instead, they listed those they felt were of great importance, and then added the Ninth Amendment as an umbrella to cover the remaining rights not specifically listed.
Now to continue I’d like to discuss a subject that is bound to raise the mire of many, especially those who consider themselves a part of the Religious Right, that being the subject of gay marriage. I personally am against gay marriage, and the gay lifestyle for that matter. But do I have the right to demand that others obey MY personal set of morals and ethics? No, I do not.
I really don’t know that much about Hugo Adam Bedau other than he is a Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University who has done a lot of research on the death penalty. But he nailed it on the head when he said, “Government should allow persons to engage in whatever conduct they want to, no matter how deviant or abnormal it may be, so long as (a) they know what they are doing, (b) they consent to it, and (c) no one—at least no one other than the participants—is harmed by it.”
Nobody, not you, not I, have the right to impose our views of what is right, and what is wrong, upon others when it comes to personal lifestyle choices as long as when those people don’t demand that we accept those views as our own. Believe me, if it is wrong, God will punish them for their behavior at the proper time, but it is not our place to judge, nor restrict them from doing what they choose in their homes. There, I’ve said it, let the comments and insults commence.
Now to up the intensity a bit, let’s talk about abortion, but before I do I need to provide you with a couple more quotes. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
Our nation’s Declaration of Independence states, “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.”
Remember, I’ve already shown that you have nearly unlimited rights, and that would include the rights to your body as well. That part of the argument in favor a woman’s right to choose I am in agreement with. However, I am not in agreement with the fact that that right includes the right of ending another life without the consent of that life, even if it is only a 10 week old fetus.
Let’s just say you live in a neighborhood and most of your neighbors do not like you, or want you in their neighborhood. Do they have the right to rip you out of your home, drag you into the street, and end your life? Of course not, but that’s exactly what is happening with every abortion performed in the United States. Doctors are ripping babies out of their home, the womb, and ending that life because someone else decided that baby is unwanted. THAT violates that fetus’s fundamental right to life, and when you violate someone’s rights, you are guilty of a crime.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states, “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” It does not matter that the life in question is a two week old fetus, it is still a life, and without due process of law, it CANNOT be ended. That is where a woman’s right ends, when her actions infringe upon the inherent unalienable right of life for her unborn child.
You may have noticed by now, all the examples I have given are all rights which, if covered by the Bill of Rights, are covered by the Ninth Amendment, as they are not rights specifically listed. I will now change course and discuss ONE right which is.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
A right is a right, is a right…there are no limitations upon them as long as you do not infringe, or violate the rights of others when you exercise them. Going back to my example of your right to eat, I cannot say you cannot eat certain items because they may cause cholesterol and be harmful to your health. The Second Amendment states that I have the right to keep and bear arms. It places no limitations upon how many, or the type, of arms that I might choose to keep.
The Supreme Court has ruled, in the case of D.C. v Heller, that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, not associated with service in the militia. That statement alone should suffice, be the end to all discussion. Unfortunately they then stated that like most rights the Second Amendment is not unlimited, leaving it open for interpretation.
James Madison once said that “The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted.” When the government chooses to place LIMITATIONS upon a right, or demand that we obtain a license, or permit to exercise that right, they are INFRINGING upon it!
If you have a cake or a pie and I take a small sliver of it, have I not taken away a part of your pie? That is the case with every single law enacted which denies law abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms. If I only take one sliver of your pie, you may not even notice it. But if hundreds of people each take a sliver, soon your pie will be gone. That is the case with the Second Amendment, hundreds of laws have been passed, each taking away of sliver of our right. Each sliver has taken its toll on that right, to where it is no longer possible to exercise our right as it was intended.
You may not choose to exercise your right, but that does not mean the right is gone, nor does it mean you, via your proxy your elected representative, can deprive me of that right. Samuel Adams once said, “If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of Almighty God, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.”
You can choose not to exercise a right; you can choose not to eat, or choose not to breath, but the moment you decide to once again exercise that right, it will be there waiting for you, it cannot be taken away by me, or by elected representatives who have taken an oath to defend that right.
That, my friends, is the nature of rights. They existed long before our government came into existence, and they will exist long after our government has faded away. It is only when people become so afraid of their government that they see their rights infringed upon. Thomas Jefferson is attributed with saying, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
It does not matter that, by saying government, I mean the local law enforcement agency; the state legislature, or the federal government, I mean to say that when you fear ANY government agency, you have tyranny! So, if you are afraid to strap a pistol onto your hip and leave your home, what does THAT tell you? That right is protected by the Second Amendment, and we don’t need a government to tell us when we can, or cannot, exercise an unalienable right! The Supreme Court, Diane Feinstein, and a whole slew of others who believe otherwise be damned!
IN 1785, James Madison wrote something entitled Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, in which he stated, “The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”
That is what separates us from them. They did not wait until the infringements upon their rights and liberty had taken hold and legal precedents had been established to deprive them of their unalienable rights, they took action BEFORE that had happened. We, on the other hand, because we have been dumbed down by our schools; because we have become fooled by the media; because we care more for what’s on TV than we do for our God-given rights, have allowed precedent after precedent to be set, to the point where we no longer have rights, we have privileges which can, and are, being revoked at will by our government.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with one final quote which, surprisingly, comes not from a founding father, but from Winston Churchill. Churchill once said, “Still, 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.”
So there you have it, I’ve shot my wad, said it the way I’ve always wanted to, but couldn’t exactly find the right words. If you still don’t get it about rights, go back to your damn TV’s and don’t read another word I write, because quite honestly, you don’t get it anyway.
For everyone else, keep your powder dry….