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  •  The Declaration of Independence (5+ / 0-)

    ... is an interesting historical document written before the existence of the United States of America. It has no force of law in the United States of America.

    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:20:43 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  so what? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RUNDOWN

      The constitution will not protect you if you rebel against the government.  Your ass will get shot or put in prison.

      I think virtually everybody agrees on this point, probably even that Yeager guy.

      However, rights do not come from government or the constitution.  If government gave you something, then government is free to take it away, and the whole concept of "unalienable rights" presumes that the government cannot take fundamental rights away.

      If our great-great-great-great grandparents had the right to overthrow governance by a mostly-democratic parliamentary monarchy, how can we say that our great-great-great-great grandchildren shall never ever consider overthrowing whatever sort of not-at-all democratic regime might exist in the future?

      the purpose of the second amendment is to promote a well-regulated militia, in the same sense that the purpose of the first amendment is to promote a well-informed electorate.

      by happymisanthropy on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:06:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the red herring (12+ / 0-)

        Woudla? Coudla? Shoulda? It's all moot. Why worry about hypothetical governments. We have a rule of law. We have a stable democracy. The problem with people talking about the "people" in THIS context is that they actually mean ONLY the "people" that agree with them, which is in the minority. If they were in the majority (like under Bush) they wouldn't be complaining about tyranny. They'd be telling us to move to Canada if don't like it, and that "Bush won, get over it."

        To them I say, Obama won, get over it. He won twice and he didn't need to disenfranchise voters to do it.

        •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RUNDOWN
          Woudla? Coudla? Shoulda? It's all moot. Why worry about hypothetical governments.
          Because anything more than a couple years in the future can only be hypothetical.  The Framers presumably imagined quite a number of hypothetical futures, probably none as weird as this one.
          We have a rule of law. We have a stable democracy.
          And if you say it will remain that way, you've wandered into the hypothetical.  
          The problem with people talking about the "people" in THIS context is that they actually mean ONLY the "people" that agree with them, which is in the minority. If they were in the majority (like under Bush) they wouldn't be complaining about tyranny. They'd be telling us to move to Canada if don't like it, and that "Bush won, get over it."
          If you're calling them hypocrites for not opposing illegal wiretapping and the Patriot Act with the same vehemence, I agree with you.  If you are saying that the specific hypocrisy of specific individuals should change my opinion on the nature and extent of "unalienable rights," no.

          the purpose of the second amendment is to promote a well-regulated militia, in the same sense that the purpose of the first amendment is to promote a well-informed electorate.

          by happymisanthropy on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:07:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What Makes Your "Rights" "Unalienable"? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DefendOurConstitution, a2nite

            This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: [http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher]

            by Beetwasher on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:30:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That part is deliberately (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RUNDOWN

              left vague in the Bill of Rights.  It deliberately avoids language like "people shall have the right to blah blah blah," which would imply that the rights are coming from the constitution itself.

              Instead it's "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech."  The freedom of speech is presumed to already exist.  Where did it come from?  The constitution doesn't say.

              the purpose of the second amendment is to promote a well-regulated militia, in the same sense that the purpose of the first amendment is to promote a well-informed electorate.

              by happymisanthropy on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:10:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It all comes from the consent of the governed (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Beetwasher, Catesby, RUNDOWN, Noddy, S F Hippie

                Even the Bill of Rights was put in force by a vote. And that wasn't vague at all.

                You can look for and believe in other sources of rights (god, nature, Aristotle, Ayn Rand), but none of those sources are going to stand next to you and defend the rights you presume are derived from them.

                So in reality, your rights are never any more than what you can get people to agree to, whether it's in a meeting of your garden club, a court of law, or anywhere else in the government.

                In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

                by badger on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:24:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  By that logic (0+ / 0-)

                  slavery didn't violate anyone's rights.

                  the purpose of the second amendment is to promote a well-regulated militia, in the same sense that the purpose of the first amendment is to promote a well-informed electorate.

                  by happymisanthropy on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:26:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's exactly right (6+ / 0-)

                    Get in your time machine, go back to Mississippi in 1830, and show me how you're going to enforce a right to be free of slavery (it's harder to be that noble on the ground, in reality, than in a Tarentino or Spielberg movie).

                    Don't confuse things you think should be rights (basically ethics), with rights you actually have (reality). Is there a Federal right to smoke marijuana? To gay marry? My state says I have both of those rights, but the Federal government says no. Why does my state say I have them? The consent of the governed, offered up last November. I didn't have those rights before then.

                    If the election in 1787 (IIRC) had gone the other way, there would be no Constitution and no Bill of Rights. Regardless of what you think your Creator endowed you with.

                    In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

                    by badger on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:36:44 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Previously you said (0+ / 0-)
                      It all comes from the consent of the governed
                      But now you're saying
                      show me how you're going to enforce a right to be free of slavery
                      Am I wrong in interpreting this as "rights only exist if your allies can exert enough force to enforce them?"

                      So, I can haz rights if
                      -The government agrees, and
                      -The government cares enough to send enough guns to enforce them.

                      But if having allies with guns is a prerequisite to having rights, why shouldn't I cut out the middle man and own the guns myself?

                      Oh, and

                      Don't confuse things you think should be rights (basically ethics), with rights you actually have (reality).
                      I don't.  
                      If you prefer to think of fundamental rights as mere ethical rights, go for it.  That doesn't make them a speck less important.
                      If the election in 1787 (IIRC) had gone the other way, there would be no Constitution and no Bill of Rights. Regardless of what you think your Creator endowed you with.
                      Which is relevant how? If a dictator executes a dozen undesirables somewhere in the world, I'm not going to say "he had the legal authority to do what he did under the Slobovian General Code Article Seven."  

                      I'm going to say they were murdered.  Because people have the unalienable right to not be arbitrarily executed.  Even if you want to call it merely an ethical right.

                      the purpose of the second amendment is to promote a well-regulated militia, in the same sense that the purpose of the first amendment is to promote a well-informed electorate.

                      by happymisanthropy on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:41:21 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Taking the last first (0+ / 0-)

                        You can call it murder because in your cultural and historical framework, it's murder. Slobovian culture and history may lead to other ideas about whether it's murder or not.

                        A lot of people - many outside the US, some inside the US - think that Timothy McVeigh was murdered. Some people even think that killing American kids without a trial using a drone is murder.

                        You'e arguing for an absolute conception of rights - based on what? What are you going to base rights - or even morality or ethics - on, except culture and history? And when you choose something to base it on, why do I have to accept your choice? Don't I have a right to disagree? I should, unless, as I point out, you're an absolutist.

                        So instead of rights as God's commandments, or more effectively, unicorns, I'd suggest it's only meaningful to talk about rights where they actually exist - and that's where people agree they exist (in a democracy), or generally, where they can actually be shown to exist.

                        Slaves in Mississippi in 1830 had, practically, realistically, no rights. No law enforcement agency or personnel would enforce them (beyond some property rights, to be sure), no court would recogize them, state or Federal, almost no church or fraternal organization would recognize them, and slaves couldn't exercise those rights you believe they had. So they add up to nothing.

                        So, to summarize, you haven't shown where rights come from, and, barring that, you haven't shown how rights can exist when they, in reality, don't.

                        In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

                        by badger on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 01:27:53 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
                          You'e arguing for an absolute conception of rights - based on what? What are you going to base rights - or even morality or ethics - on, except culture and history? And when you choose something to base it on, why do I have to accept your choice? Don't I have a right to disagree? I should, unless, as I point out, you're an absolutist.
                          You don't have to accept my choices, any more than I have to accept yours.  
                          So instead of rights as God's commandments, or more effectively, unicorns, I'd suggest it's only meaningful to talk about rights where they actually exist - and that's where people agree they exist (in a democracy), or generally, where they can actually be shown to exist.
                          The particular decisions of a particular regime in a particular century are barely worthy of my consideration.

                          Governments don't HAVE to exist, but if they do exist they need to respect the freedoms of their people.

                          Slaves in Mississippi in 1830 had, practically, realistically, no rights. No law enforcement agency or personnel would enforce them (beyond some property rights, to be sure), no court would recogize them, state or Federal, almost no church or fraternal organization would recognize them, and slaves couldn't exercise those rights you believe they had. So they add up to nothing.
                          And an armed attacker could mug me tomorrow, torture me for five minutes, and then kill me.  In this society of two people, there is no effective protection for my rights, so by your logic my rights do not exist.  No law enforcement, court, church, whatever, will take an interest during my lifetime.  I can't exercise those rights, so they add up to nothing.
                          So, to summarize, you haven't shown where rights come from, and, barring that, you haven't shown how rights can exist when they, in reality, don't.
                          I haven't attempted to do so, nor am I interested in trying.  
                          But, if you reject the notion that "securing the blessings of Liberty" is a legitimate function of government, what do you think is?

                          the purpose of the second amendment is to promote a well-regulated militia, in the same sense that the purpose of the first amendment is to promote a well-informed electorate.

                          by happymisanthropy on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 06:40:40 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  But I do think "securing the blessings of Liberty (0+ / 0-)

                            to ourselves and our posterity" is a legitimate function of government. I'd point out that the first three words of that same document (and the first three words of a number of paragraphs in the President's speech yesterday) are "We the People ...". Because that's the sole source of that document's - and that President's - legitimate authority, and of the rights it seeks to extend to us and to guarantee.

                            And I believe in those things because of the culture I've lived in my entire life, and that culture's history (and that culture and history change continually, too). I don't believe in those things because there's something else that "makes" those things true. I don't know what that something would be.

                            Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

                            by badger on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:37:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Or to quote some guy today (0+ / 0-)
                        For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

                        In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

                        by badger on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 02:04:02 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Other than (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          badger
                          gift from God,
                          I'd prefer that he leave deities out of it, but I don't disagree with any of that.  That's what people create governments for, to promote and secure the rights they already have.

                          the purpose of the second amendment is to promote a well-regulated militia, in the same sense that the purpose of the first amendment is to promote a well-informed electorate.

                          by happymisanthropy on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 06:49:31 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                •  You're Obfuscating (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Calamity Jean, Noddy

                  I get what you're saying, but since the Constitution DOES recognize that and we, "the people" recognize the Constitution, we are assured our rights by its existence.

                  •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

                    The Constitution doesn't have the force of a physical law or law of nature. It can, and often is IMO, be ignored, often egregiously.

                    Were the Japanese interned in WW II - many citizens and native born - "assured [their] rights by its existence"? Even the Supreme Court ruled against them in Korematsu, and many of the same justices who voted for rights in Brown v. Board held that Fred Korematsu had no right to be free.

                    The Constitution, before the 14th Amendment, allowed slavery. How was it changed? I'd argue by the consent of the governed, acting through their representatives, but I'm obfuscating, so you tell me your version. I'd argue it goes back to Jefferson's phrase "as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness".

                    What is this magical thing the supersedes the consent of the governed and grants and enforces rights? Even a dictator needs the consent of the governed - he just gets via torture in backrooms or at the point of a gun.

                    In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

                    by badger on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 01:37:14 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And somehow it ended (0+ / 0-)

                      Without the Japanese Americans rising up with guns and putting down the tyrannical government.

                      •  No, and if you're going back to (0+ / 0-)

                        the original diary's point and premise, I agree with you on that (and thought you put it very nicely, too).

                        But the fact remains that the consent of the governed is what holds us together and determines what rights we possess realistically. That's all I've been saying in this subthread, because someone asked.

                        Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

                        by badger on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:27:05 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Understood (0+ / 0-)

                          I get your point. I just get tired of the whole "the people" kind of argument the way the right uses it. They act as though they are the people. I don't know who they think the left are. Something other than people in some way? I don't know. But yes, the consent of the people is a given in a democracy. The domination of the people is a tyranny.

          •  I guess I see room (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            leftreborn, Noddy

            Between tyranny and perfection.

        •  Just because some conservatives (0+ / 0-)

          are completely wrong on the subject today does not mean such an event is impossible in the future.

          They are two different and independent subjects.

          Not being able to imagine such an event shows a very narrow view of world history.

          And besides, people have always had a right to rebel against their governments, whether it's written down on a piece of paper or not.  And they are certainly not limited to the reasons outlined in a piece of paper.

          And the government has a right to try them for treason if they don't succeed.  

          Saying "You can't rebel, it's illegal!" is just ridiculous on its face.  It's been illegal in all places and at all times.  It was illegal when the US did it.  But we won.

          If these conservative idiots tried it, they'd lose.

          •  It's not a Question of Whether it Can Happen (0+ / 0-)

            But whether you acknowledge trolls by biting at their (the right-wing nuts)  bait.

            My problem with their whole premise is this notion of "the people" as though THEY are the people and THEY have the right to tell the MAJORITY of the people they are under a tyranny.

            It's obfuscation. Yes. There is some hypothetical distant future where it's a possibility. There are thousands of hypothetical futures, with various outcomes, and as many with a utopian conclusion as apocalyptic.  

            We don't need to know what the future is to know that at present we are so far from anything tyrannical that we can't responsibly use the word in the present conversation.

      •  Alas, not so. (0+ / 0-)

        The government can and does take 'fundamental rights' away all the time. It's called the "criminal justice system." Even if you are never charged with a "crime against the state" (almost all crimes are crimes against the state, which is why the state's prosecutor prosecutes), your fundamental rights can and too often are violated "under color of law." If that happens to you, you can sometimes seek redress against the state (and its responsible agents) in civil court. But only if you've got a few hundred thousand dollars to invest in the effort.

        Think of Joe Arpaio. Who as Sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ is positively famous for taking away the 'fundamental rights' of those he doesn't like the looks of. Note that he was re-elected to his position of power just a couple of months ago.

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