promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Posts Tagged ‘inherent rights’

‘Rights Aren’t Rights if Someone Can Take Them Away’

In Individual Sovereignty, liberty and rights, politics, rights on May 7, 2010 at 1:25 am

Who says Congress is can’t come together for the common good?

Yesterday, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) and Congressmen Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) introduced the Terrorist Expatriation Act.

It should be renamed the American Citizen Expatriation Act.

The bill aims to strip Americans of their citizenship if suspected of affiliating with a foreign terrorist organization and are apprehended abroad. It would amend the 1940s bill, 8 USC 1481, which gives the federal government the power to strip Americans of their citizenship if they choose to fight for a foreign military force. So far, the White House appears to not support the bill.

Senator Joe Lieberman, the bill’s main architect, wants to expand 8 USC 1481.

“Because it just seems to me if you basically declare yourself to be an enemy of the United States you’re no longer entitled to the rights of citizenship,” he said.

While civil liberties groups are rightfully crying “unconstitutional” and pointing to the bill’s disregard for due process, Lieberman’s remarks reveal a more serious, and dangerous, assumption: That the rights of Americans are dependent on their status as citizens and therefore, may be taken away.

Deceased controversial comedian George Carlin is rolling over in his grave:

“Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away, they’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country is a bill of temporary privileges.”

But the U.S. Constitution wasn’t meant to protect “temporary privileges” — it was meant to recognize already existing human rights. Having these rights declared in the first ten amendments of a document doesn’t make them valid.

Actually, the Bill of Rights doesn’t even bother differentiating between citizens and non-citizens. Like the freedoms of expression and religious conviction, justice is not some privilege to be revoked. It is an inherent right — one that suspected terrorists own.


Government: a ‘dangerous servant’

In Individual Sovereignty, liberty and rights on February 10, 2010 at 4:08 am

To have a healthy fear of government is to understand human nature — its to understand ourselves.

I often hear people making fun of conspiracy theorists or those fearful of big government. After all, government is nothing more than the people. So what is there to fear?

First of all, government is not the people. Government is a representation of the people — or at least it should be. Secondly, inherent rights and power belong to persons, not groups. Government is a group and therefore a surrogate power. When we talk of issues such as civil rights or womens rights, it is the people constituting the group, not the group itself, that own the rights and, consequently, the power. This distinction may seem unnecessary but it is crucial.

Persons within a democratic republic give up some of their inherent power to the government in exchange for various interests. However, the power ultimately rests within the people.

The danger of government lies in the heart of humankind. Which one of us has not experienced the rush of being appointed to a position of power or at times sought to lord ourselves over others? The potential for power abuse among individuals pales in comparison to that of government — especially that of a superpower. Surely those tasked with buying up billion-dollar industries and bringing nations to their knees face tremendous temptation.

Because of this, it is a wise citizen who posses a healthy fear of, and keeps a consent watchful eye on, her government.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

— George Washington