Rights or Liberty? 26

Which would you rather be able truthfully to claim:

“I have a right to …”

or

“I am free to …” ?

There has been some discussion in the comments section of our post The Colossus … and the enriching of America (29 January, 2018) about whether government is necessary for the protection of a citizen’s rights or the protection of his liberty. I say, for the protection of his liberty. That is what defines “a free country”. In the United States of America, there are certain “rights” granted in law that are themselves protective of the individual’s freedom. The ultimate aim of the Founders in granting those rights was the protection of liberty.

*

Freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization

– Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Chapter Four.

To be for freedom to do what one wants to do is not to be for unbounded liberty. (I use the words “liberty” and “freedom” interchangeably, as they are synonyms.)

What then are the bounds of liberty?

Ideally, my liberty is limited by nothing except everyone else’s liberty.

Sane, sober, sensible self-interest tells me that if I don’t want to be bonked on the nose by my neighbor, I would do well not to bonk him on his nose. But I cannot trust everyone else – or even myself – to be always sane, sober, and sensible.

If I live in a time and place when and where I have to fear continually that I will very likely be assaulted, injured, killed, and that the things I have acquired to sustain my existence, comfort, safety, and pleasure may be forcefully taken from me, I am not free. I am constrained to be perpetually on my guard against attack. I must never venture abroad unarmed. I must carry my possessions with me or stay with them. I am burdened with anxiety. I am severely hampered.

But if my freedom is protected by law and the apparatus of law-enforcement – police, judicial courts, prisons, gallows – I can take the safety of my person and my things for granted, and go lightly about my business among my fellow citizens. (Which is not to argue that it’s unnecessary to insure my house and its contents, or register my intellectual property. These are, it is true, private protections taken on by personal choice, but available to me only in a society governed by the rule of law.)

The city-states of ancient Greece embodied the idea of a society made up of people from many different countries, nations and tribes, all governed by the same rule of law. Your willingness to obey the law made you a worthy citizen, regardless of what region of the earth you derived from. The idea that people of many different nations could melt together into one nation ruled by law (“e pluribus unum”) was lost and forgotten for centuries and was not applied again until the eighteenth century with the founding of the United States of America.

However, the idea of a nation governed by the rule of law rather than by a monarch, re-emerged earlier than that, in England, with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. By signing it, King John conceded the principle: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you.” It was intended to be a “charter of liberties”, not a bestowal of “rights” on his subjects or on any one class of his subjects such as the barons. Clause 60 declared: “all the customs and liberties which we have granted to our own men shall be observed by all of our men, both lay and clerk [cleric], to their own men”. In other words, just as the king pledged liberty to the barons, so the barons, by the same token (the Charter) pledged liberty to their tenants.

Magna Carta affirmed the vital principle of freedom under the law. Clause 39 of the Charter said: ‘no free man shall be imprisoned or deprived of his lands except by judgement of his peers or by the law of the land’.  Clause 40 said: ‘To no one shall we sell, delay or deny right or justice’ (“right” in the sense of what is right, not “a right”).  Before Magna Carta, the king had been able to do pretty well whatever he liked – and did.  After the making of the charter of liberties, the king was as firmly subject to the law as everyone else.

(It is true that the monarchs of England nevertheless went on for centuries having too much arbitrary power. But it would be a mistake to believe that the continuing existence of an English monarch now means that the people are not as free as the American people. [The British have recently become less free, but not for that reason.] Since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when William of Orange and his wife Mary became the constitutional monarchs of the United Kingdom, the reigning king or queen is the nominal and ceremonial head of state, not the power of the state. The present Queen has no choice but to sign the acts of law that Parliament passes. The people are “subjects” in name only.)

A free country is one in which the people are free to do anything that is not specifically prohibited by law. Most of its laws proscribe rather than prescribe. They say you must not do this and that, such as murder, steal, perjure yourself. While there  are some that say you must do – for instance, the laws of the fisc: you must pay your taxes – the fewer “must” laws there are, the freer the people.

Now let us suppose that legislators decide that the law should specify everything you may do. Those would be your rights. It would be an infinitely long list, never exhaustive. So the enterprise would be impossible.

Does that mean that there can be no such thing as a “right” granted by law? No, it does not mean that. The law, and only the law, can grant a right. Even if one believes in a god, and makes the claim that the god bestowed certain rights on every human being ever born – the right to life, say – it would be meaningless if it were not recognized as a right, and protected, by the law.

Only the law can grant a right. The rights the laws of a free country can grant are very few. And there is a danger in granting any: that some governments, having granted a few, may claim that what those few permit you is all that you are permitted.

Why can governments only grant a few rights? Because no one can have a right that puts an obligation on someone else.

That is why it is nonsense to speak of a “right” to health care; a “right” to an education, a “right” to a house, a “right” to a minimum income, a “right” to equality of pay; a “right” to social security; a “right” to an abortion; a “right” to contraception; a “right” to a sex-change operation; or, the crowning stupidity, a “right not to be offended”. That takes away the essential freedom on which all the rest depend – the freedom to speak. And it is in itself a deeply offensive notion.

If your “right” compels the labor of someone else, it is not a “right” but a privilege – and what is worse, the indefensible privilege of the parasite.

What of your “unalienable”[1] rights named in the Declaration of Independence as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”? They do not put an obligation on someone else, so aren’t they good rights? You are declared to be endowed with them by your “Creator”, “Nature’s God” – which is a way of saying that they are yours simply because you exist. And many there are who believe that because they exist, they have a right to exist.

If you believe that God or Nature granted you the right to live, to be free, and to pursue happiness, you may also believe that God or Nature will protect those rights of yours. But in fact Nature guarantees you nothing. You have no natural rights. You can call them natural, you can call them God-given, but unless they are recognized and supported by the law, you may find that they are not dependable.

So what rights can the law grant – and sufficiently protect to make the granting of them more than just the wistful thought of a somnolent parliament?

These: The right to speak freely. The right to a trial if you are accused of breaking the law. The right to safeguard yourself, your property, your reputation. They are among the rights granted by the US Constitution in the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights), and all of them can be, and are, protected by the law. By protecting them, the law – or say the government – is protecting your freedom.

That is what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are all about: realizing the idea on which the USA was founded – the idea of liberty.

 

Jillian Becker   January 31, 2018

 

[1] “Unalienable” means the same as “inalienable”: that which cannot be taken away.

  • I believe we’re all on the same page that rights are just claims to one’s liberty, not access to the product of one’s neighbor’s toil and treasure.

    To be pedantic (a pleasurable fault of mine) let me distinguish between two lines in the Declaration of Independence. The first puts forth the notion of natural rights which is discussed below by Don L and others. Let me add that a right is nothing more than a just claim that trumps all other claims. If one has “the right” in a dispute one has the claim that trumps all others. A natural right is a right by one’s nature and is therefore unalienable. The next sentence in the Declaration discusses what is necessary to secure these rights.

    Thus we have the possibility of having unalienable rights that are unsecured. What does this mean? It means nothing more than one’s rights can be violated. One can have to just claim to X but another violates those rights by force or fraud. One’s claim is still just but one’s a victim of an injustice. The Declaration notes: ”That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …”

    I raise this point because globalists ask us: if [natural] rights are universal (as they are) why do we treat foreigners differently and how can we let them remain oppressed by their governments? The simple answer is that it is not our altruistic duty to secure their rights. In many cases they have no idea and little interest in liberty. That they, by their nature, have a just claim to liberty (a right) is a moot point. Their culture can not support a rights-respecting regime.

    That brings me to my final point. Government is established within a jurisdiction to protect the rights of the people in that jurisdiction. Globalists, internationalists, and altruistic universalists just fail to understand the prudence of establishing a bounded nation-state for the protection of the liberty of its citizens.

    • I like what you say and thank you for it.

      To your paragraph one, yes.

      To your second paragraph: That first “line” declares that the “unalienable rights” are “endowed” to men by God. Don L says that “unalienable” means that which cannot be sold; not only that which cannot be taken away (that is the meaning of “inalienable”, he says), but cannot be sold. Cannot be. Cannot possibly be. Your right to live and your right to be free cannot possibly be taken from you because you just are alive and free, born that way. And furthermore, and greater, your rights to live and be free cannot be sold. So you have these rights unalienably. But what good are they to you if your life and your liberty can be taken from you? Even in the United States of America, the country which declared “unalienable rights” to exist as it were by nature, citizens’ lives are forcibly taken from them by murder – and by the state itself when it executes by court order, and liberty is taken away when a citizen is imprisoned by court order. And “unalienable” goes further and says that your liberty cannot be “sold”. If that were true, there would be no slavery. There not only would not have been slavery even at the time that that the Declaration was issued, there never would have been slavery. The Declaration does not say that all men born in the Unites States are equal, it says all men – by implication anywhere at any time – are endowed with “unalienable rights”. Yet the “unalienable” right every living being has not to be sold, has been alienated in all ages, in every inhabited part of the globe.

      Next “line”. Ah, but these rights, “endowed” by the “Creator” nevertheless do need governments to “secure” them. Which they do by making laws. So those “unalienable rights” may be alienated after all? Well yes – but there will be a penalty for the alienator to pay, maybe with his own life and liberty. However intrinsic, inherent, inseparable from sheer existence they may have been declared to be immediately above, the Declaration declares that they need to be secured – protected – by government. Now saying this I do not mean to mock or disparage the Declaration. Far from it. I accept that the men who wrote it believed in a Creator God, and hasten on to that second line which clearly says that government is necessary, that law is necessary, to “secure” those rights. (I say, to endow them, to grant them in the first place.) If they were truly “unalienable”, they would need no act of man to “secure” them. How “unalienable” in Don L’s sense can they be if they need government and laws to secure them from alienation?

      You touch on the contradiction. “Thus we have the possibility of having unalienable rights that are unsecured.” Yes. If the “rights” are “unalienable” why do they need the protection of law? Law-enforcement finds them highly alienable. Or as you say, more credibly, capable of being “violated”. To say “violated” is to imply that the right is granted by law. (One cannot “violate” a law of nature or “God”. Man made laws can be, are, “violated”.) You come on, rightly, to “injustice”. You point out that “it is not our altruistic duty to secure [foreigners’] rights “. Certainly we are not. American law, the writ that runs to the borders of the United States and not beyond them, secures Americans’ rights.

      So we come back to the simple proposition that the United States’ Constitution (not the Declaration) grants and protects certain rights. The ones enumerated in the first ten Amendments. (They do not include life or the pursuit of happiness, but do include property rights by implication.)

      It grants and protects a certain few enumerated rights in order to protect the liberty of every one dwelling within the borders of the USA. The aim is the protection of liberty. You are free within those borders to do whatever you want to do that is not specifically prohibited by law; and your law-granted and law-protected right to free speech and safeguarded property ownership keeps you that way.

      Or as you aptly put it: “Government is established within a jurisdiction to protect the rights of the people in that jurisdiction. Globalists, internationalists, and altruistic universalists just fail to understand the prudence of establishing a bounded nation-state for the protection of the liberty of its citizens.”

      Precisely.

      I state: A right is a good that is granted by law and can be taken away by law. And that is why it is better to be able to say “I am free to …” than to say “I have a right to…”

      • I’ll skip the discussion of God as I’m sure we all know that supernatural beings have nothing to do with facts. Let’s get to the heart of your argument as your build up to it in your post.

        “So you have these rights unalienably. But what good are they to you if your life and your liberty can be taken from you?”

        This is a common question. But is it relevant to the thesis I present? In general, is justice not still justice even when injustice prevails? One could ask what good is your idea of justice if you are oppressed? Surely, justice is justice—even if it doesn’t currently exist. Rights are nothing more than a just claim and you still have that just claim even if you are oppressed. Indeed, the knowledge that you have that claim can fuel your fight. If your fellow citizens aren’t totally beyond the reach of reason the battle hasn’t been lost. A right (a just claim), like justice in general, is objective and remains true and valid even in the most perilous times.

        “… government is necessary, that law is necessary, to ‘secure’ those rights. (I say, to endow them, to grant them in the first place.) …”

        Granting would make it a privilege not a right. That would make men the creator of morality as rights are nothing more than justice in the realm of claims. If there are natural rights, men have to discover them and if they are to be respected men must act accordingly. But this is true for objective morality in general. If what is declared moral is at man’s discretion, morality is subjective.

        “One cannot ‘violate’ a law of nature.”

        This is certainly true for physical laws. Massive bodies are bound by the law of gravity which are not optional for their motion. Volitional beings have to choose to live in accords to objective moral codes. Eating well is good for health but you are not forced to eat well. Justice is important for well being but no one is forced to be just. For living beings the laws of nature only identity the conditions for well-being; they are not mechanical constraints as they are for inanimate objects.

        In an important sense, laws in the realm of human action can not be violated. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you don’t eat well, your health is imperiled. If we don’t have justice, our well-being is harmed as we see in any communist nation. You can act contrary to ethical law but you can’t escape the consequences. Ethical laws are not binding in the sense that you must obey them, as we’d expect for the mechanical laws of physics. But they are binding in the sense that you can’t succeed without them. If we want a just and prosperous society we must secure our rights.

  • britannicus

    A brilliant article (among many others in this blog) to reflect on topics of deep relevance for everiday life. In my opinion there has always been a cultural tension between prescriptive vs. proscriptive morality, which is reflected in a corresponding tension between prescriptive vs. proscriptive legal systems underpinning social morality. A society fractured along the lines of identity politics favours prescriptive systems, whereas a society that puts freedom at centre stage favours proscriptive ones. Prescribing what is allowable generates an infinitely higher number of constraints and limitations than proscribing what is not deemed allowable. For instance, it is easy to spot a the signs of a fully prescriptive culture in the pedantry of the franco-german society that lies at the foundation of the continental Europe that matters. Unfortunately it appears that such prescriptive culture is now heavily permeating the anglosphere too, with identity politics and rights to this and that trumping the very notion of individual liberty.

    • Thanks for your interesting comment – with which I heartily agree – and your kind words, britannicus.

  • Zerothruster

    Not since The Federalist Papers….

  • Cogito

    I’d like to offer some observations and comments.

    The Enlightenment philosophy shared by most of
    the founders of this new country embraced the notion that man had certain identifiable rights that are inalienable because these rights were founded not in so much “Nature” red in tooth and claw, but in the nature of man himself.
    That, in order to fully flourish in the Aristotelian sense, Jefferson
    found it “self-evident” that man had inalienable rights to such things as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or Lockean property).

    As to laws versus rights, the founders also believed in the notion of a “higher law” be it in Nature or endowed by a god. This notion goes back at least to the Greeks (see Euthyphro) and Romans who distinguished lex and ius.

    Even today ethicists and jurists distinguish between Malum prohibitum and malum in se. The English also established courts of equity to correct errors in man made law.

    The founders believed, as Jillian re-asserts in her essay, that governments are established, not to grant rights, but to enshrine and enforce these natural, eternal, and inviolable laws.

    Does this clarify or obfuscate?

  • And another question for Don L. The Soviet Constitution granted many rights to ….

    “Therefore” Soviet citizens “were free to ..” ?

    No they were not. Had they been free, they would not have needed the constitutionally granted rights. Just as British citizens, being free (until Britain joined “Europe”), did not need constitutionally granted rights.

    “Rights” are granted by the constitutions of many tyrannies. They are a cruel hoax.

    The US Constitution is a rarity in that it actually protects the rights it enumerates. (And the Democrats will change that state of affairs if ever they get the chance.)

    • Don L

      The difference is that our Founders were not granting rights. They were enumerating and defining unalienable rights: sentient beings understand they are alive and likely want to stay that way – they know that they have a right to life!!!!!!!!!!!!! Etceteras. They didn’t know exactly how to describe it given little scientific knowledge; comparatively. But they knew it wasn’t mystical – god is not mentioned in the Constitution and there is no religious test. I’m with Ayn Rand, I think, I am , I will. If rights come from anyplace they come from self.

      Constitutions do not grant. They are to restrict, limit and obligate – USSR called it what it wanted – it wasn’t.

  • Don L

    Is there a universe without matter? When the law breakers are writing the law … is it law? Where does government get the right to make law? Government does not have the liberty to make law ( it egregiously takes it – like these days).

    The governed, each individual relinquishes limited and enumerated rights (powers) under contract/agreement that authorizes gov’t to protect these rights. If the rights are not protected there is no liberty.

    I am. Therefore, I have a right to my life and the things I posses, earn or want to do. These rights constitute my liberty. I relinquish rights (accept obligation) in an association, to maximize my means of protecting my rights.

    Liberty is a right – freedom is a right … liberty from government or another’s interventions and or threats on my rights. My liberty is attacked as they go after my life – boy what a right!
    _______

    TAC: “Which would you rather be able truthfully to claim:
    “I have a right to …”
    or
    “I am free to …” ?”

    Don L: I have the right to, therefore I am free to.

    TAC: “However, the idea of a nation governed by the rule of law rather than by a monarch, re-emerged earlier than that, in England, with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. By signing it, King John conceded the principle: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”. It was intended to be a “charter of liberties”, not a bestowal of “rights” on his subjects or on any one class of his subjects such as the barons. Clause 60 declared: “all the customs and liberties which we have granted to our own men shall be observed by all of our men, both lay and clerk [cleric], to their own men”. In other words, just as the king pledged liberty to the barons, so the barons, by the same token (the Charter) pledged liberty to their tenants.”

    Don L: HMMM — The Charter of Liberties by King Henry I, August 3rd, 1100 was a list of 14 kingly restrictions and obligations he offered in order to keep his monarchy intact – to the benefit of the nobility; not any humans. The Charter is the beginning of a line, including the Magna Carta, restricting government/monarchy (to constitute anew – ‘constitutional’ contract restricts, limits and obligates power). There’s a line because they don’t tend to stick. Anyway, Henry I granted these 14 things as ‘liberties’ (rights) of the nobles.

    Say, how many liberties are there? Give me liberties? Do you have liberty except for ‘this’ and what would ‘this’ be? Does government/law protect some liberty but not all of it? How many parts are there to liberty? Can you have liberty without rights?

    TAC: “Only the law can grant a right. The rights the laws of a free country can grant are very few. And there is a danger in granting any: that some governments, having granted a few, may claim that what those few permit you is all that you are permitted.”

    Don L: The law can’t grant anything. Government, currently 545, create law and they in fact were never granted any authority, power, right to ever write a law infringing on unalienable rights; no authority to create rights (the only rights recognized by the Constitution are natural/”I am “/unalienable which government has no ability to create – hence no law). That they do, is because they are slime ball criminals, for the most part.

    TAC: “Now let us suppose that legislators decide that the law should specify everything you may do. Those would be your rights. It would be an infinitely long list, never exhaustive. So the enterprise would be impossible.”

    Don L: Listing them would be an impossibility, yet rights have and do come in conflict. Having defined the type of rights that cannot be infringed upon, courts then settle the matter per constitutional-principled, not social or personal, interpretation. SCOTUS, as is, is a threat to freedom … it violates rights; law — oath breakers – imprison Roberts Argh and GRR!

    TAC: “… a “right” to an abortion; a “right” to contraception; a “right” to a sex-change operation”

    DON L: These as non-rights ONLY respective of government payments for; otherwise no one has an unalienable right, or liberty, to interfere in another’s unalienable right to their make their own life’s decisions.

    TAC “So what rights can the law grant – and sufficiently protect to make the granting of them more than just the wistful thought of a somnolent parliament?

    These: The right to speak freely. The right to a trial if you are accused of breaking the law. The right to safeguard yourself, your property, your reputation. They are among the rights granted by the US Constitution in the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights), and all of them can be, and are, protected by the law. By protecting them, the law – or say the government – is protecting your freedom.

    That is what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are all about: realizing the idea on which the USA was founded – the idea of liberty.”

    Don L: The Constitution is a legal document and it does not grant anything. It is a contract and the “Bill of Rights” is/are term(s) of contract establishing the agreement between parties; that these are some of the AMONG the most important of the unalienables – never to be infringed upon. They are not protected by law – they are the law. Government is to uphold and enforce it – enforcing it is to protect your rights and when in dispute – courts will interpret the law. Third branch totally out of whack!

    Had Hillary been elected, I might have certainly exercised my right to replace the non-responsive government. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution constitutes the agreement, the contract, between people who have the right to liberty and seek to protect it.

    There is no other Republic on the face of the earth like the united States of America. Not perfect, but sufficiently brilliant, the Founders created a uniquely American limited “bottom up” government based on the unalienable rights of the individual. Yes, give me liberty or give me death, but I’ll vote with the likes of Jefferson and Adams on unalienable rights.

    • So in your view rights come from Nature? Nature as God? “Nature’s god”? That’s what you imply if you say that by merely existing you have a right to life. Fling yourself on the mercy of Nature, and see how she protects your rights! No. You have no right to life. None. Either you get a right in Law or you don’t get it at all. “A right” is a legal term. To believe you have a right to life that is not granted by law but is yours merely because you exist is to believe in a rights-granting deity. (Yet you are for abortion!) In America, and nowhere else that I know of, a right to life – and to liberty, and even to the pursuit of happiness! – has been bestowed upon the citizens. Though the document itself says the “right’ comes from a divine source, in fact citizens can only claim the “right” by the authority of the document itself. New point: If you think it is only the cost of contraception etc. that the Lefties cry for as a right, you have’t been listening to them. They claim the “rights” I mention, and many more, as “human rights”. Whence cometh “human rights”? How are they protected and by whom? How come those claimed ‘”human rights” are more violated than protected? What authority is failing in its duty? God?

      • Don L

        I added this to me above – you didn’t get to see it: Summarily, the problem I have with placing liberty on a pedastal superior to unalienable rights is John McCain believes the purpose of government is to protect, defend and advance liberty and democracy. This is the camel’s nose under the tent and the avenue to foreign adventures; as it has been since Teddy Roosevelt started that balll rolling. Contrarily, limiting the object of government to protecting citizen’s rights, as the Founding Docs spell out, keeps the troops at home.

        Continuing: So I won’t defend myself if attacked because I don’t have a right to? I protect my rights as best can … make deals to help. It’s what human beings do. I have no right unless its in a document? Where are you living?

        First I agree, men constitute government in order to make rights viable – defending against an army by yourself is tough.

        If I exist, I damned well believe I have a right to my life. I believe I have a right to the wood I just chopped. I have a right to protect my family… tell me otherwise and see what happens. These rights are unalienable because I exist. This was Jefferson’s conflict …not knowing electricity, genetics, The best they understood to preclude ‘GOD’ and explain from whence (egg and sperm knowledge many decades in the future) was god of nature – their point was UNALIENABLE RIGHTS – individual sovereignty and govern by the people not downward.

        Human rights, civil rights, social rights – hogwash elitist lawyerly-dribble: typically for taking rights away. The docs only discuss unalienable rights, as you rightly stated, which do not include anyone else for exercise of.

        Rights don’t come from dieties or mystical anything and they don’t come from gov’t constructed law. They exist because the person exists period. They precede gov’t and law and it is the purpose to get with others for mutual defense/protection of each others rights to life, liberty, etc

        They don’t come .. I have them because I am …you have them because you are. I have no friggin’ idea how mankind began … nor does anyone else. Hawkings does profess to spontaneous life.

        As to the lefties in pink hats are any of their ilk … they get legitimacy because of the scum Supremes …all the way back to Hamilton’s monarchists n the court. Government has no authority under the constitution, as written, to provide anything to anybody for any reason – Only to protect rights – you from me; me from you both from all others – NOTHING ELSE!

        A right to life for the born. If you aren’t born You ain’t alive: Shiavo – all believed she was alive; living is not to be alive.

        To believe law applies at conception is to give government rights over a human’s right to life – the mothers. By what do you or any other have a right to determine whose rights prevail or even to say the UNBORN – not alive – has rights.
        Not the constitution – it applies to the alive/living! Getting pregnant does not dissolve her rights. Oh, she’s unqualified, looks like she may abort – arrest her, tie her down, cut out the baby and give it to a righteous couple. That’s the slope of conception law – HYDE crap! Inject the 13 year olds without parental permission , etc. You propose a right, right with the school of SHOULD.

        Homemade does not mean canned, water is wet and rocks are hard and government exists to protect our unalieble rights period! Rights do not come, they ARE and they are protected by the participators of the Constitutional contract.

        Today, the Constitution is merely a useful tool to drag out every once in awhile. Even Trump last night abused it with his Family Paid leave – violating somebody’s rights to busniss earnings for some political clout, PU.

        • No. You defend your life because you want to stay alive, not because you have a “right” to your life. You defend your property because you want to keep it, not because you have a “right” to keep it. You utterly fail to grasp what I am saying and I utterly fail to see sense in what you are saying. On this issue – or these issues – we will remain in disagreement.

          • liz

            Great discussion!
            This argument is “sufficiently brilliant” (to use Don’s phrase) on both sides to turn what seems at first like splitting hairs into some very interesting food for thought!

        • Jeanne

          Hi Don. You write:

          “Rights don’t come from dieties or mystical anything and they don’t come from gov’t constructed law. They exist because the person exists period.”

          I agree. For the mere reason that I exist, I may do whatever is required to continue that existence. It is what it is, neither granted right nor freedom, but reality.

          You continue:

          “… it is the purpose to get with others for mutual defense/protection of each others rights to life, liberty, etc.”

          And this agrees with Jillian, yes?

          The difference is the individual and the community, which is where the living-but-unborn come in to play with our notion of rights and liberties defined within law.

          Best discussion I have read in years!

          • Jeanne

            Well…maybe it doesn’t agree with Jillian. Much to think on here.

  • Zerothruster

    Excellent essay, Jillian … Several of your thoughts here had not occurred to me in the senses or ways you cogently express them.
    One pedantic point that might need attention is where you write…
    ” You are declared to be endowed with them by their “Creator” ”
    and I only bring that up because the way we’re used to hearing or reading it is… “endowed by their creator” meaning “endowed by [their = the people’s] Creator. But your phraseology suggests that “their Creator” refers to rights created by [their = the rights’] Creator (rather than the people created by their creator). I hope I’ve expressed that clearly.
    It looks like there’s a lot of material from Don L. in The Senate that may need to be resolved before we can send this to The President for his signature.

    • Don L

      LOL

    • Thanks, Zerothruster, for pointing out my mistake (and for your kind words). I should have written “your Creator”. I’ll correct it.

  • liz

    Good elucidation on how liberty is only made possible by the rule of law.
    Now that the rule of law is being undermined by the left (sanctuary cities, claiming ‘rights’ for illegals, condoning violence in the name of “Resistance”, the corruption and weaponizing of govt. agencies and the media, the suppression of free speech, etc, etc), our liberty is close to extinction.
    Can you believe the ACLU complained that Trump mentioned America too many times in his State of the Union speech? It was offensive to all the America haters we’re supposed to be handing over our country to, I presume.

    • Don L

      Liberty exists before the law — that’s the purpose of law.

      What is it like when the criminals write the law … hopefully we are getting that sorted out … long way to “original”.

      • Athrin

        take a look at Europe and see.

  • Don L

    To Begin: LOL – very last first –

    Jefferson’s draft included “inherent & inalienable” whereas he believed the rights, irrespective of derivation, were inseparable from the person – unalienable; so, the inherent & inalienable was replaced by unalienable in future drafts.

    The rest is a sample on the topic. I believe in the distinction – especially as it pertains to private/commercial property and miscontruction of various clauses.
    __________________

    Absolute nonsense trying to sell the idea that the two words have the same meaning. Ask who wants to and how would they benefit?

    Inalienable: The use of inalienable means the individual believes in Hobb’s political theory and that each individual ought to contract away their rights to a single sovereign who can never be questioned or removed. Tyranny.

    Unalienable: The use of unalienable means the individual believes in Lockean political theory and that each individual in a society ought to contract with the government to protect their unalienable rights. The people are sovereign.

    UNALIENABLE: Because “I Am”; quashed, is not taken away or not existing!

    The state of a thing or right which cannot be sold.

    Things which are not in commerce, as public roads, are in their nature unalienable. Some things are unalienable, in consequence of particular provisions in the law forbidding their sale or transfer, as pensions granted by the government. The natural rights of life and liberty are UNALIENABLE. Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition

    “Unalienable: incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred.” Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, page 1523:

    You cannot surrender, sell or transfer unalienable rights, they are [innate to being alive] a gift from the creator to the individual and can not under any circumstances be surrendered or taken. All individual’s have unalienable rights.

    Inalienable rights: Rights which are not capable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing such rights. Morrison v. State, Mo. App., 252 S.W.2d 97, 101.

    You can surrender, sell or transfer inalienable rights if you consent either actually or constructively. Inalienable rights are not inherent in man and can be alienated by government. Persons have unalienable rights. Most state constitutions recognize only inalienable rights.
    _____________

    Since 1910, the Teddy Bear and Woodrow birth of ‘Progressive’, Black’s Law Dictionary has been changing the definitions: beginning with definitions as above to the newest edition NOT even defining unalienable; assumes it is the same as inalienable. If there are no unalienable rights to be protected, then you have no rights and no protection and you ARE at the whim and will of the STATE! The contract created for mutual protection is void/voided.

    “Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.” –Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823.

    • Lexicography is not an exact science. Whim and opinion come into it a lot. (Ever read Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary?) The dictionaries I consulted gave the first meaning of “unalienable” as “inalienable”, and the first meaning of “inalienable” as “unalienable”. I’ll accept that the meaning intended in the Declaration is as you say.

      • Don L

        Republic has become democracy, homosexual act is now gay, marriage is gone, liberal now means progressive/communist, and if the court obliterates the original meaning, then the SCOTUS can take private property (an unalienable right) and give it to a private developer for its private plunder (Kilo case). That’s why it is important, I believe.