Welcome back to the second part of a discussion that has been a bit philosophical and has taken somewhat of a religious turn. I’ve appreciated the comments and arguments presented in response to my previous article. It’s interesting to see the differences of opinions and the valid reasoning behind them.
After discussing the case of Richard Reid, a convicted terrorist who attempted to destroy a passenger jet en route from Paris to Miami, there have been several interesting opinions expressed that I would like to address and include some of their points in this article to see if we can build on this discussion together. Although this will be a cursory conversation that may not be the most in-depth discussion known to man, we’ll do our best.
Rights in and of themselves are only as resolute as the faith we put in them. Everyone conforms to some sort of social contract and, in doing so, agrees to the rules of that contract. We believe that man deserves specific rights out of respect for him being human. The amount of rights that we give to any human being depends greatly on how we view society and man’s need for liberty.
This would explain why Americans may think that other parts of the world are more controlling or more anarchic, yet many of the people that live in these foreign countries feel as if their lives are satisfactory, to say the least. Children in one society may feel completely comfortable living subject to the tempers and discipline of their parents while American children may feel that they aren’t (or shouldn’t be) required to follow their parental guidance. It’s all a matter of what rights we believe man should be afforded.
As you have heard countless times before, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights that we as Americans feel are endowed to all men. I agree. These rights constitute a sort of code that allows us to cooperate, legislate and co-exist. These rights become the rules of the game we call life (no pun on the Milton Bradley product intended). We detail more of our inherent rights in the First Amendment. In order to live peacefully, men are granted (that’s the key word) the right to express themselves and practice their religion. This is quite acceptable in my eyes. Man should be able to express his opinion and beliefs so long as it isn’t harmful to others.
There may be an argument that these rights of freedom to practice one’s religion and speak freely are inalienable and above revocation. I contend that such a scenario would create a loophole through which a person may act lawlessly without fear of consequence. Thoughts and opinions should and will forever remain free from control and legislation. It is the realm of actions that we are responsible for. Actions bring consequences. It’s simple Newtonian physics: An action brings a reaction. These rights can be taken away if so ordered by court of law. Due process is the key to removing any one of these rights.
Several of the comments from the last article quoted scriptures and examples of when it was necessary to take away rights of others. Primarily, such instances were few and occurred during times of war. However, the rights of the people were taken away when there was a need for greater unification or protection from harm in times of trouble. The people that failed to cooperate were stripped of many liberties afforded to them; not because they were treated lawlessly, but because they failed to comply with the laws under which they were living.
Moreover, if a person is expecting protection under a certain form of government, he or she should become subject to the system as a whole. In Richard Reid’s case, he wishes to exercise his right to practice religion, but up until recently he was deemed too dangerous to practice religion and communicate with the outside world. Of course, this opinion is to be determined legally in a court of law, but there is a value judgment that we make in his case. In my opinion, by acting out of hostility towards the U.S., he waived the right to certain privileges that perhaps he could have enjoyed had he been more civil.
In the end of all things, the design of the United States government is to “establish a more perfect union, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to us and our posterity.” To allow for the greater part of the American people to exist peacefully and enjoy life liberty and the ability to pursue their noble endeavors, the government must assist in removing and/or regulating any sort of threat or barrier that impedes the life and liberty of the nation as a whole. This perhaps applies to not only the Richard Reid case, but to a much broader myriad of issues.
Ultimately, there is a definitely a need to think about these issues. Like I said at the outset, this is purely philosophical and should be treated as such. They can be dry, but such conversations are necessary at times. Thanks to everyone who posted and I hope that you find this installment interesting enough and worthy of continual discussion.
Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. He thinks way too much.