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Question: Inalienable Rights, another name?

Chacham (981) writes | more than 8 years ago

User Journal 16

Spurred on by superyooser's JE.

When watching Star Trek i noticed that Q has his "powers" taken away in one episode. They granted these "powers" to Riker as well. And, many other shows do this, someone's powers are taken away. At least in Superman 2 they irradiated him or something to do it.

Spurred on by superyooser's JE.

When watching Star Trek i noticed that Q has his "powers" taken away in one episode. They granted these "powers" to Riker as well. And, many other shows do this, someone's powers are taken away. At least in Superman 2 they irradiated him or something to do it.

This has always bothered me. The point of Q is that he is not human with special powers, he is a being who can play with the universe *inherently* as a human can move his arm. Just like we cannot take away the "power" of someone to move his arm without destroying a part of his physical or mental structure, removing powers from Q should be the same. I don't mean this specifically by Q, but any characters where certain extra-human capabilities are inherent to their race.

Perhaps we can blame the State of Virginia for this. The Bill of Rights was a bad move. There are no such things as rights. The Declaration of Independence uses the term "inalienable rights" to describe this situation. That is, where the power of freedom is not granted or restricted, rather it is recognized. But the DOI made a mistake by using the word "rights". The Constitution itself only uses the word "right" once. And that is on a legal right, "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;". Being it is a made-up right it is called a "right" therefore. Everything else is expressly granted legislative "power". The Constitution is truly a beautiful document. But the DOI lead Virginia into the fallacious belief that all rights needed to be codified, and the Bill of rights changes it all.

In the first amendment "right of the people to assemble", the second "right of the people to keep and bear arms", the fourth "right of the people to be secure in their persons", the sixth "shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial", the seventh "the right to trial by jury", the ninth refers to rights given by the Constitution, which is not true, and the tenth reserves "rights" for the people.

Because of this, i consider the BOR the thorn in the side of the US. It took one of the most fantastic legal documents and destroyed it at its core by invented this idea that freedom was because of rights. An absolute tragedy that redefined how people were going to look at the freedoms we enjoy.

It is not that we have the right to do something, it's that noone has the right or ability to take it away. Even "inherent rights" while expressing this message, uses the word "rights". The term should more correctly express that in interpersonal actions, noone can object or impede the freedom of others. The codification into law should not be what people can do, but what other people cannot do to impede it.

I think this needs a name. And whatever it is, it should not use the word "right". That has played out already most unfortunately.

Does someone have a more eponymous name?

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Indeed (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14492501)

There was considerable debate at the time of the writing of the constitution over whether a Bill of Rights was necessary, and by and large for exactly the reasons you state - a Bill of Rights would sound too much like an enumeration of the (limited) rights of the people (and were granted by the government), whereas the constitution was supposed to be about enumerating the limited powers of the government.

In the end, they compromised by having a BOR that enumerated certain specific issues of concern, largely as a result of what they experienced under King George, and then having a catch-all in the 9th and 10th to try and make it sound again like they were not simply listing only those rights which the people enjoyed.

Unfortunately it has ultimately backfired, as few people today seem to even really be aware of or understand the 9th and 10th. And they do presume the listing of rights means those are their only rights, and (FAR worse IMO) that rights are granted by the government.

I'm not entirely certain the poorly educated public of today can even begin to comprehend that the constitution is a listing of the limited powers of the federal government. Far too many, including a disturbingly large number of people walking around with college degrees, even Ph.D.'s, seem to believe the "general welfare" clause gives the federal government unlimited power to do whatever the hell they want, so long as they proclaim it to be benefitting the "general welfare". Because ultimately, what any one person does not consider general welfare, someone else does, and who's to say? Apparently the government is to say. It's the founders' worst nightmare.

So ultimately, the root problem is our own lack of education. A situation grossly exasperate by the ever increasing federal control of our education system. Which is itself a situation grossly exasperate by the unwillingness of too many people to see the conflict of interest inherent in federal control of education combined with federal desire for a poorly, minimally educated public that allows the feds to ever grow and expand and seize more and more power unto itself.

It's a death spiral, and we're almost certainly way the hell too far along to stop it.
We're well on the way to implosion, and the "suggestions" that many people have are just more of the same thing causing the death spiral in the first place. Terrorism, the Patriot Act, and wiretapping have nothing to do with it. They are symptoms, they are not the problem. Too many people understand that, or will admit to it. Too many people have too much vested interest in the causes of the problem that they cannot and will not admit to the root sources of the problem.

And so we're gettinge exactly what we deserve. That is, after all, the problem with "democracy".

*sigh*

If only there was someplace else to go.

Re:Indeed (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500488)

Well said. And thanx for the history lesson. I have heard that before, but never got the whole picture.

I may disagree somewhat as for education being the answer. Ultimately, we all have preferences, so we all see things differently. I think the answer is appreciation of different preferences. Well, not that i have to appreciate your preference, i can still think it to be the most vile and decadent thought around, but by golly you have the "right" to have it, and it is that liberty that i need to respect.

As for the general welfare, i always figured that when all states have a law doing something already, or are about to make it, the federal government can make it easier, similar to coinage.

Thanx for replying. Nice post.

Re:Indeed (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14505394)

Thanks to technology- education is not enough. Constitutions and charters have become largely useless pieces of paper- if the government or a corporation really wants to do something, they will do it and there is no realistic recourse. Cruise missiles are currently the ultimate surgical strike weapon- and you're not going to stop one with an AK-47 or whatever the weapon of the week is. A surprise attack with a cruise missile cannot be stopped- and is accurate to within 3 cm at this point.

Re:Indeed (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14505695)

You are correct - the government is ultimately going to do whatever it damn well pleases. Which is EXACTLY why education is MORE important than ever.

A well educated populace, who understands the constitution and shares a common vision of limited government that is too weak to attack its own citizens, would be smart enough to only vote for those politicians who agreed to work towards and maintain such a government.

But the people are stupid, and ignorant of their own constitution and their own history, so the politicians take advantage of it to accrue ever more power unto themselves.

A well educated population would not have let their government degenerate to this point in the first place.

Re:Indeed (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14509383)

You are correct - the government is ultimately going to do whatever it damn well pleases. Which is EXACTLY why education is MORE important than ever.

The difference is that I see the power of government as being very weak already- the real danger is the power of the corporation who assumes the services of government.

A well educated populace, who understands the constitution and shares a common vision of limited government that is too weak to attack its own citizens, would be smart enough to only vote for those politicians who agreed to work towards and maintain such a government.

There are no such politicians available- the only winners in the current system are politicians who have been bought and paid for by the corporations. Voting is just a sham- a show put on to pretend that we still have a democracy. All successfull parties- Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Reform, and Green- only put up politicians who have been bought and paid for by campaign contributions. The other minor parties haven't been able to elect a dogcatcher or school board member for over 75 years now.

But the people are stupid, and ignorant of their own constitution and their own history, so the politicians take advantage of it to accrue ever more power unto themselves.

Except they haven't. What they've done is broker that power- sell it to the monied interests instead, putting themselves into being just puppets of the money interests.

A well educated population would not have let their government degenerate to this point in the first place.

A well educated population doesn't have a choice left in the matter- the Constitution is just a piece of paper that means nothing, voting has become a sham- and revolt is no longer possible because of the huge difference between the arms that the federal and state governments control, and the arms that the people control. We lost the day the original 13th Amendment was conviently "lost" when the federals burnt the Virginia State Courthouse during the Civil War- and now what we really have is an oligarchy, where a few family names control everything.

Re:Indeed (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#14509863)

A well educated populace, who understands the constitution...But the people are stupid, and ignorant

Ignorant != Stupid

And conversely

Educated != Understanding

Education only gives people the material to understand. Actual understanding comes from practice, and here, i think, that practice is respect.

Re:Indeed (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510632)

Education only gives people the material to understand. Actual understanding comes from practice, and here, i think, that practice is respect.

A good way to put it- I see no respect left for liberty in this world, especially where liberty, freedom, and profit are in conflict. Profit has become the overriding principle- and because of that, there is no actual respect left for rule of law.

How about "natural liberties" (1)

Tikiman (468059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14492583)

Perhaps the best term is "natural liberties". I am reminded of an article [humanlifereview.com] that spends some time differentiating civil rights from civil liberties - breifly, that a "liberty" is an area where government cannot act, and a "right" is an area where government is bound to act on behalf of citizens, usually at the expense of some liberty. It resolves the problem you describe by asserting that most of what we call rights are really better described as liberties after all.

Also, you may be interested in what Alexander Hamilton says in the Federalist 84 [uchicago.edu] :

Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing, and as they retain every thing, they have no need of particular reservations. "We the people of the United States, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America." Here is a better recognition of popular rights than volumes of those aphorisms which make the principal figure in several of our state bills of rights, and which would sound much better in a treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government.

Re:How about "natural liberties" (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14492681)

The problem with this is that I can think of no liberty that the government cannot theoretically remove if they set their mind to it. *Will not* remove, that is banned by the constitution from removing, yes, but Will Not != Can Not. If given the chance, a dictator can now employ a variety of techniques, including torture, holding families hostage, and the threats of bankruptcy, death, and homelessness, to force certain points of view on the population. And of course, by "government" I'm including the corporations that have gained the power of government through destroying the rule of law in the United States.

Re:How about "natural liberties" (1)

Tikiman (468059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14499671)

I would say that civil liberties could be called "practical liberties" and natural liberties are "theoritical liberties". The success of a government can probably be judged by how well the practical liberties overlap with the theoritical ones

Re:How about "natural liberties" (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14499765)

Depends upon the meaning of the word "success". Governments are successful in different ways. A dictator can be considered just as successful as a democracy- their aims are simply different. The problem is more that liberty is more a function of what the people are able to wrest from government than what government is able to wrest from the people; and at this technology level what the people are able to do to threaten government is very small indeed.

Re:How about "natural liberties" (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#14509934)

You're too depressing. :)

You give off negativity, and discussing things with you is useless since you'll just go a ranting. Which si too bad, because otherwise you have good comments to make.

Re:How about "natural liberties" (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510360)

You're too depressing. :)

When considering ideal forms of government, it's instructive to look at the bad as well as the good. Optimism does not make for a useful way to look at the world.

You give off negativity, and discussing things with you is useless since you'll just go a ranting.

If your proposed system does not handle the negative- then isn't it better to know about it?

Which si too bad, because otherwise you have good comments to make.

I'd rather have an answer to the original question- what liberty still exists that modern technology can't be used to remove? I can't find one- which means that we're better off having a LIMITED government than NO government.

Re:How about "natural liberties" (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500625)

Interesting. The difference between "rights" and "liberties" you mention is very nice.

One thing that bothers me though, is that it still directs the liberty at the individual, rather than expressing that noone can take it away. I think that is why the term "inalienable" was originally used. "Inalienable" is more to this point than "natural", even though "natural" is more descriptive. Though, a religionist might take issue with the word "natural" anyway, claiming that they come from a deity. So, in this case, i'd prefer "inalienable liberty".

Im going to split hairs here and say that "liberty", with common use, sounds to much like it is to be excersized only when there are no other issues involved. But that desperate times would call for desperate measures. (Am i making any sense?)

Re:How about "natural liberties" (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14505359)

The thing is- we don't have a single liberty left that can't be taken away. Technology can be employed to remove *any* liberty I can think of- even such autonomous ones such as beating hearts (rotary circulating pumps can be installed that remove the need for a heartbeat) or breathing (iron lungs used to be very large- but not any more, a small box hooked up to an oxygen supply and a juglar vein will suffice). There are no inalienable liberties left- if a government or corporation really wants to, they can violate all of your liberties.

It's too late (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14492642)

We now have international law on the topic- all member nations for the past 50 years have been displaying in public the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [un.org] . Now admitedly the countries have been very bad at following either the overt (posting) or subvert (changing of law to fit these rights) purpose of this document, to varying degrees- but we do have a statement of rights that governments are supposed to support in law, and if we want a just society, we would do well to start with the enactment of such laws.

Liberties are different- liberties are things that can't be removed or enforced at the point of a gun. There are very few liberties in this life.
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