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"I Object To 'Special' Rights"
Section 14 of 16

I consider myself conservative or libertarian. I believe strongly in rights, but I think that "gay rights" and "black rights", and so forth, with all due respect, dilute and weaken the concept of bedrock individual rights. How would you address that?

 

The answer: So do I.

You have to consider the context of how we got to this point in the first place.

A bedrock principle of American law has always been that "all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

The first two centuries of this country's existence established, by tradition, prevalent practice and precedent law, that these rights are neither inalienable, nor endowed to all.

If these rights were truly self-evident, we would not be having this conversation.

Yes, men and women have these rights, have had these rights, have always had these rights ... if the principle is true, and it is, men and women in totalitarian countries like the old Soviet and Nazi Germany regimes have always had these rights, too.

Unthinkable injustices have been inflicted upon whole races of people in the name of "exceptions" to the rule that all men and women are created equal before the law.

A major first step in this country was the conclusion of the Civil War, with the amendment "without respect to race, color or creed" to the United States Constitution.

If your reasoning was correct, this probably should not have been necessary. It shouldn't have been. Why was it?

This untidy baggage had to be tacked on to the U.S. State Papers to remedy a specific evil, namely, that The People had chosen to ignore pre-existing rights of a whole class of people for over one hundred years. Protracted and exceptional injustices require exceptionally specific measures for remedy.

"They should have just enforced the existing laws" just doesn't cut it for five generations of enslaved African-Americans.

If you want to quibble about the parliamentary procedure of the remedial law which is written while your fellow Americans are being burned, murdered, tortured, incarcerated and lynched by a culture which condones and even advocates this, I ask you to consider a couple of points:

a) "enforcing existing law" has to be done by precedent, but there are no precedents -- or written intentions -- to enforce at the point of reform.

In order to suddenly enforce a law, for which there has been a long history of wholesale breach, it is necessary for lawmakers to provide a written means for citizens and the courts to distinguish the law from the way things were done before.

A public notice, when issued by lawmakers, is called a law. Reform means new law, and specifically, that means new law with specifics which the old law failed in not providing.

b) a human being only has one lifetime in which to await redress of grievances.

A law so poorly conceived and written that it cannot stand without an enumeration of all its instances and specifics, is "bad law" indeed. But you cannot put off redress of grievous injustice over the course of several human lifetimes, on the pretext of your disapproval of the wording. That particularly specious form of evasion would be the equivalent of drafting a mild letter of condemnation to Hitler.

If history is showing us that our popular and legislative ethics are so bankrupt that we have to be told that it is NOT OK to stab gay teenage cross-dressers in a New Orleans bar or disco on the Sabbath, this must be done.

The highest purpose of the law is to protect and enforce individual rights, not the feelings, "traditions" and sentiments of those violating them.

If the safeguards of the United States Constitution are not specific enough for the cultural climate in which we find not only them but the citizens who are to be protected by them, or if those laws are not strong enough to actually accomplish their charter purpose, then citizens must act to make sure that they become so, no matter how painful or unseemly the process may become.

This nation was founded on the integrity of Process. Process was rooted in individual rights. The founding was rooted in the discontinuity of violent revolution, establishing once and for all that when there is a conflict between Rights and Process, Process will yield until Rights are reestablished.

Human rights must never again be subordinated to parliamentary procedure and house rules of order over the course of a whole human lifetime. Once the breach of principle has become self-evident to victims and beneficiaries alike, you can only openly break with the principle so many times.

At some point, the institutions charged with upholding the law become worthless for the preservation of life and liberty.

Taken in this light, the moral neutrality of some, certain conservative and libertarian organizations which actually do advocate a consistent platform of individual rights, is particularly abhorrent and discrediting. This only serves to underscore how wide the breach between principle and practice has been allowed to grow.

As a civil libertarian myself, my best guess is that conditions here are so bad (in some respects) that many highly respected thinkers in individual rights haven't actually got any clue whatsoever how to get us from here to there. "A moral and cultural revolution"? Led by whom or what, may I ask?

"Moral revolutionaries", my ass.

People who espouse liberty but refuse to sanction anything concrete to preserve it are, by far, the greatest cowards of all.

This is the land of the free and the brave. It is time, finally, for all of us to be brave, and to make us all free.

 

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