Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What are rights?

There seems to be a lot of confusion over what constitutes a right, what grants a right, and what it takes to maintain a right. Let's start with what a right actually IS.
A right, contrary to the beliefs of some, is inherent in every human. Unlike a privilege, no one must grant it, and it should not be taken away except under extreme circumstances. The summary of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is fitting. Each individual has the right to live, be free, and strive toward his/her goals.
The Bill of Rights spells out specifics within that basic framework. The First Amendment protects freedom at its most basic levels. The Second protects life, freedom, and property from interfering forces. The Third protects freedom from the troops of the government. The Fourth protects property from unreasonable search and seizure. The Fifth protects life, freedom, and property from government forces. The Sixth and Seventh lay out ways to allow for due process when someone is accused of crimes worthy of stripping them of their rights. The Eighth protects those who've forfeited their rights. The Ninth notes that rights not listed are still not to be stripped away, and the Tenth separates the powers of the States from the Feds.
The Ninth Amendment is important to note, as it specifies that there are rights beyond those listed, and notes that the rights are enumerated, not granted, by the Constitution. The powers of the states and feds, however, are granted by the Constitution, and those not expressly granted to the feds are reserved to the states or the people themselves. This is also important, as a government does not have or grant rights.
But how do we maintain a right? At the most basic levels, we shouldn't have to--they are inherent. However, there are those who would infringe upon the rights of others, be they individuals, corporations, governments, or groups. To protect our rights, there are a variety of safeguards. We have legal protections against many infringements, such as police, civil suits, and criminal courts. We have elections to vote out those who would chip away at our rights. We have the system of checks and balances to keep any branch of government from overstepping their bounds. At the basest, most extreme level, we can protect our rights with force. If someone attacks you, self-defense is the only immediate protection. And, if there comes a time that the government strips us of our rights beyond the point of using the system to stop them, the freedoms of press and arms allow us to alert fellow patriots and defend freedom with force.

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