Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Paper guarantees

In recent internet surfing, I came across this well-meaning statement on the website of a midwestern university:

"Human rights are rights that all humans have, just by virtue of being human. Human rights documents guarantee us the right to live, freely and securely, without discrimination, and with the social and material goods required for a dignified human life. Human rights violations threaten and diminish us all."

I wish that statement were true. I really do.

But the truth is, no "document" - no piece of paper - guarantees us anything. All you can do with paper is write things down.

No, the "Declaration of Human Rights" of the U.N. does NOT guarantee any rights.

No, the Constitution of the United States of America does not guarantee any rights.

I hope this university ALSO teaches its students that, in reality, it is soldiers with guns that guarantee their human rights.

It is fine to write down on a paper that food and housing are basic human rights. But until there is enough food and adequate housing in the world, everyone is not going to get fed and housed. The most anyone can say is that all human beings "deserve" to have certain things.

True rights come only when one is strong enough to obtain those things and then protect them. In short, your "rights" exist at the pleasure of whomever has the power. Usually that is your government. Therefore, make sure you have your government doing what you want it to do.

Please don't misunderstand me. I DO believe in natural rights that all humans are born with. I am only saying that rights are meaningless if they are not capable of being enforced. Simply being agreed to and written down officially on a piece of paper doesn't make it so.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Personal freedom

Governments don’t give out rights. Governments “can’t” extend rights to their citizens, because, as human beings, we are already born with our basic rights, “endowed by our creator” as Thomas Jefferson said. I’m speaking of “natural rights” - the right to own one’s life and do with that life whatever you will, as long as you don’t infringe on that same right that other people also have.

Governments can “secure” our rights by defending us against outside invaders and protecting us from people who would violate our rights. Or... governments can abridge our rights, infringe upon our rights, take away our rights. Most often, this lessening of individual freedom comes under the guise of “acting in the interest of the greater good.” The same old “Give up this one little thing, and we will make you more secure.” You understand.

In your sadness and outrage over the recent Arizona shootings, please don’t be tempted to acquiesce to giving up your right to own a gun because of the thought that giving up our guns would maybe stop such shootings. You would be giving up so much more than just your gun. It is not so important that you own a gun as it is that you have the right to own a gun.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blaming the blameless

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.
—Sarah Palin