Operative BJ would like to reply to Operative SMR, which the Czarbecause he is a benevolent homicidal maniac Czarencourages. Getting email from any one of you is rewarding enough, but when the readership starts exchanging ideas, well, then this site starts to become something useful to people.
See, Puter? Useful.
O, Dread and Powerful Czar,
This one begs to approach and reply to Operative SMR’s comments regarding Rights and “privileges.” in which he posits that “a right is whatever you can get someone else to agree is your right.” He also posits that a “right” is subjective because it cannot be felt or weighed. And he attempts to limit the establishment of a Right by questioning whether it “can” be established rather than “should.” I certainly hope this is an attempt at satire, for its implications strike fear in the heart if they are meant honestly and without defining who “someone else” is.
The point of having clearly defined, limited, and immutable Rights is to provide a continuous and unchanging definition of Freedom. If Rights could be continuously redefined according to “wants” and “needs,” the eventual result would be anarchy and not a more Free society (see “ACPPA, continuous and arbitrary changes in”). The Founders knew this. That is why they created an enumerated Bill of Rights: a list of prohibitions against the use of government power, e.g whatever “someone else agrees to.” After all, is not government just a bunch of “someone else”s?
Whether a Right is affordable or not (“can” via “should”) is a strawman argument. Very often, Rights cost the government more in their restriction than in their operation. As an example, the 1st and 2nd Amendments, two of our very core Rights, cost the government nothing to implement. However, each new law meant to restrict those Rights requires expenditures by the government. In other cases, “affordability” is determined by necessity, as in the right to a defense attorney if you cannot afford one, and the right to a trial by jury. Rights are inherently affordable, although “wants” and “needs” may not be.
And to the question of whether a Right can be established by “force,” I would respond that such a “right” is not a Natural Right established by the Creator, but a protocol desired by man and which may be temporal rather than eternal.
To take Operative SMR’s comments to their logical end, let us eliminate the Bill of Rights for a moment. Suppose that “the boy who cried wolf” annoyed his neighbors so much that rather than just ignore him, one person decides to establish the “right” to forcibly stop him from crying wolf again. One person might claim the right to “cut out his tongue” and others might agree. Thus, having established a right according to “whatever you can get someone else to agree is your right,” and by acting using “force” whether the boy wishes to be subjected to this “right” or not, the boy’s tongue is cut out. Without the prohibition against Cruel and Unusual Punishment, the few who were within earshot of the boy’s speech have maimed another human being merely because they didn’t like what he said.
Today, we have Eric Holder as the Chief Speech Enforcement Officer™. Luckily, the Bill of Rights prevents him from cutting out the tongues of those who wag against his Lord, the child-king Obama.
This lowly and unworthy one hates to think what other kinds of speech would be found offensive, who might find it offensive enough to establish a self-created “right” to stop it, and who might approve of that “right.”
And that’s just speech, which may only offend but is neither “sticks nor stones.” What other kinds of “rights” would be made up out of whole cloth merely to serve one individual’s “wants” or “needs.”
Yes, after many hours waiting at a bus depot, I could use a drink too. But that’s a definitely a “want,” and probably a “need.” But I don’t have a “right” to it.
The Bill of Rights was not established for convenience or to resolve temporary needs, nor because it could be done, nor because one person felt it was necessary and convinced others likewise. The Bill of Rights was established to document Natural Rights and force the government to recognize and protect them for all time.
O Great and Powerful Czar, thank you for that last beating. My morale has improved immensely. May I have another one?
Well, it may surprise BJ and SMR that this argument is an old one. Indeed, the Czar remembers hearing a provocative and thoughtful speech that “:I have a right to life really means Please dont kill me. The argument was very interesting and persuasive, but the Czar does not do it justice by reducing it to one sentence. In other words, you can claim a right, but you still need someone elses permission to honor it. This is SMRs reminder.
Do you have a right to free speech? Well, the Founders certainly think so: and the Constitution is an assurance that the government will inherently grant permission to you that they, if no one else, will honor it. This is BJs argument.
Philosophers such as Hegel, Kant, and even Randwhose Objectivism says the whole argument is pointlesstake different positions on this. What is interesting is the Founderss opinionand they would have been largely aware of Kants analysisthat no matter which position you take on the argument, the Bill of Rights is your last and only needed guarantee. Pretty cool, eh?