Rights – Laws – Public Opinion

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Letter of Amerigo Vespucci to Pier Soderini 1497

There’s not a moral imperative to challenge every public indiscretion or misconduct, however when threatened, we’re obligated to control our reactions based on the threat level.

Commitment to a cause isn’t the problem, it’s being committed to the right cause which creates progress and permits people to improve on their own volition. Would You Pass the “Red Shirt Warrior” Test?

Natural and legal rights are distinct types of rights. The two may intersect but aren’t synonymous.

Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system (i.e., rights that can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws).

Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable (i.e., rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws).

During the Age of Enlightenment, the concept of natural laws were used to challenge the divine right of kings. This concept became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, human rights law, and government, legal rights, first outlined in the Magna Charta, a form of early separation of heads of government from absolute power.

Up until this time period, Kings & Queens were seen as representative of God on earth, they deserved allegiance because of a divine blessing and above reproach moral character. Monarchs ruled through the social contract that gave them the power to declare anyone a traitor to the crown. Treason has been used against many people, putting to death anyone challenging the authority of the crown.

The concept of natural rights are used to challenge the legitimacy of usurping individual freedoms through governmental law. The distinction between natural law and natural rights are and have been argued throughout centuries of human declarations and legal precedent.

“All natural rights may be abridged or modified in their exercise by law.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1790.

“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.” – Thomas Jefferson

Natural rights, in particular, are considered beyond the authority of any government or international body to dismiss.

The Declaration of Independence

Section 2: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

All of this was the basis of the reasons for government to exist and for people to accept the authority of the newly formed government. The United States wasn’t recognized internationally as an independent body when these declarations were made.

Fundamental changes to the interpretation of these rights through legal precedents contradict natural rights. Laws where written to justify tyrannical and egregious behavior, defy natural rights. The most obvious contradictions were slavery & civil rights, including women suffrage (voting & property rights).

If you take a moment and think what are the most fundamental rights any human has three basic ideas should immediately come to mind.

  1. the right to exist unharmed
  2. the right to think independently without restrictions
  3. the right to own property

When the governed are threatened by the full force of government, losing life, freedom of speaking their mind, and loss of property, they are precipitously on the knife-edge of rebellion, or at the minimum, disrespect toward the law and those hired to enforce those laws.

The first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. Called the “Bill of Rights”, were designed to respect natural law, but as everyone should be aware legal and natural rights aren’t synonymous.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights have no role in “creating” rights. The Constitution itself is useful only insofar as it lays out the guidelines, structure, and organization of the government.

When people talk about rights, many have the confused belief that individuals or representatives or majorities can create rights by writing them down on a magical piece of paper.

Freedom of speech is absolute because you have the right to your own thoughts. Public opinion may not approve of those thoughts, but those are yours alone. The right to protect yourself from harm or be deprived of your property by anyone is absolute. Therefore owning firearms isn’t a right granted because of a Constitution or a court, it’s fundamental to yourself.

Because the founders of the United States understood human rights can be limited or curtailed by a corrupt government, they made their declarations public and swore their allegiance to the principles, even at peril of their own lives.

If you’re in doubt as to what each of these rights mean, rather than have someone else do your thinking for you, read their explanation in their personal writings.

“The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that . . . it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” – Thomas Jefferson

“No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms (within his own lands or tenements).” – Thomas Jefferson

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive. – Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).

The power to resist oppression rests upon the right to possess arms:
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.
– Patrick Henry (Virginia ratifying convention – June 2 through June 26, 1788)

America is being cleverly divided, to be controlled through division and animosity.

REFERENCES

University of Virgina ~ Collections of Thomas Jefferson
Quotes from the Framers and Their Contemporaries
United States Declaration of Independence – Wikipedia
John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
Constitution of the United States – Bill of Rights
Rights Don’t Come From Governments
Federalist Papers

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2 thoughts on “Rights – Laws – Public Opinion

  1. jeffreyschullo

    Michael, another great post. Just want to point out one thing: Under the heading “The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States” you immediately quote the Declaration of Independence. Not sure if the is what you meant.

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