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Badass Quote of the Day

Glenn Greenwald, perhaps the single most indispensable voice for civil liberties in today’s media, has moved from Salon.com to the Guardian. In a recent column at his new home, he offers up this eloquently worded statement in defense of a government limited by real constitutional safeguards:

When a government is permitted to transgress the limits that have been imposed on its power (in the case of the US, imposed by the Constitution), the relationship between the government and the citizenry changes fundamentally.

In a free society, those who wield political power fear those over whom the power is wielded: specifically, they harbor a healthy fear of what will happen to them if they abuse that power. But the hallmark of tyranny is that the opposite dynamic prevails: the citizenry fears its government because citizens know that there are no actual, meaningful limits on how power can be exercised. A nation in which liberties are systematically abused – in which limitations on state power are ignored without consequence – is one which gives rise to a climate of fear.

This climate of fear, in turn, leads citizens to refrain from exercising their political rights, especially to refrain from posing meaningful challenges to government authority, because they know the government can act against them without real constraints. This is a more insidious and more effective form of tyranny than overt abridgment of rights: by inducing – intimidating – a citizenry into relinquishing their own rights out of fear, a state can maintain the illusion of freedom while barring any meaningful dissent from or challenge to its power.

Exactly right. I first saw this idea expressed in Bertram Gross’ Friendly Fascism.

Comments

  1. lancifer says

    In a free society, those who wield political power fear those over whom the power is wielded: specifically, they harbor a healthy fear of what will happen to them if they abuse that power.

    This is ultimately the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. That is why so called assault weapons should be the last guns to be banned. Those who believe that tyranny is a thing of the past are dangerously deluded. I have never owned a gun of any kind but I understand the reason the framers put the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights.

  2. lancifer says

    Perhaps you should try “explaining it” to the US Supreme Court that recently upheld the right to bear arms as an individual right.

    Of course being an authoritarian bootlicker you are all to glad to cow tow to authority. So long as that authority leans in the correct political direction of course.

  3. D. C. Sessions says

    What’s really interesting is that the “real meaning of the Second Amendment” was unknown for almost 200 years, until it was revealed on a set of golden plates that only a few could translate.

  4. dingojack says

    OOOh I’m a ‘authoritarian bootlicker’, So who referred to the authority figures again? Oh yes the ‘I’ve got mine. fuck you’ libertarian, who worshippers at the foot of the fallen idol of the Austrian School.
    Dingo

  5. lancifer says

    D.C. Sessions,

    Buried in a hillside in Palmyra, New York I believe.

    I purchased a set of “seeing stones” on ebay the other day, so let me know if you stumble across any ancient tablets in your basement that you need translated.

  6. says

    I think the Supreme Court essentially got it right three years ago in the DC gun case. I think the Second Amendment does confer a right to own firearms. But the court also said, quite correctly, that this does not mean that right is unlimited. Measures like waiting periods, background checks, registration requirements and the like are reasonable restrictions designed to achieve a clear and compelling state interest and I see little chance that the court would invalidate such laws. Whether they would invalidate a ban on assault weapons or not is anyone’s guess, but they rejected a blanket ban on the ownership of handguns. There’s a stronger argument to be made that a ban on assault weapons achieves a compelling state interest, but that may not actually be the standard.

    I don’t recall whether the court articulated a particular standard that must be applied to gun rights cases in the DC case. I don’t think they did. I doubt they would apply strict scrutiny in such cases. But I’ll need to look up the case to know for sure.

  7. lancifer says

    D.J.,

    “Oh yes the ‘I’ve got mine. fuck you’ libertarian…”

    The only thing “I’ve got” that I’m worried about losing is my freedom. The constitution is there to safeguard my rights and those of all Americans. I take comfort in the fact that guns are available, as a last resort, if a tyrannical government attempts to abrogate those rights.

    You are comfortable with ceding your power to the government in the hope that it will act benevolently. Even worse, you are eager for a “tyranny of the majority”. Imagining that you, of course, will be part of that majority.

  8. lancifer says

    Ed,

    But the court also said, quite correctly, that this does not mean that right is unlimited. Measures like waiting periods, background checks, registration requirements and the like are reasonable restrictions designed to achieve a clear and compelling state interest and I see little chance that the court would invalidate such laws.

    Agreed. It is certainly a reasonable interest to stop criminals and the mentally ill from having guns. So long as those reasons are not used as a pretext to stop law abiding citizens of sound mind from owning guns.

    There’s a stronger argument to be made that a ban on assault weapons achieves a compelling state interest, but that may not actually be the standard.

    Well, since the ruling upheld the individual right I’m not sure that the “interests of the state” should be the standard. Certainly a disarmed populace is in the “interest of the state” if that state wants to ensure the servility of the people.

    I kind’a think that preventing the government from getting out of control was the whole purpose of the 2nd amendment to begin with. It wasn’t put in the Bill of Rights to secure the right to hunt ducks or stop burglars.

  9. says

    I think it’s rather silly to believe that the Second Amendment is really going to safeguard your rights if the government is intent on taking them away. That amendment may confer a right to own firearms, but not to own grenade launchers, tanks or artillery. All the shotguns and handguns in the world aren’t going to help you overthrow or stop a tyrannical government.

  10. says

    Lancifer wrote:

    Well, since the ruling upheld the individual right I’m not sure that the “interests of the state” should be the standard. Certainly a disarmed populace is in the “interest of the state” if that state wants to ensure the servility of the people.

    I don’t know what actual standard the court would apply (or has applied), but strict scrutiny is the strongest possible standard and that requires that the government show that the law being challenged is the “least restrictive means” of achieving a “compelling state interest.” But that interest can’t be “we want to ensure the servility of the people,” no court would accept that. The interest would have to be the same as that used to justify any of the other limitations that we both agree are legitimate — public safety, for example.

  11. dingojack says

    Uh Lance – Gun ownership has no effect on tyrannical governments, As note by that well-known leftist rag The Economist:

    The idea that, in the modern world, a country full of people with private handguns, shotguns and AR-15s in their households is more likely to remain a liberal democracy than a country whose citizens lack such weapons is frankly ridiculous. Worldwide, there is no correlation whatsoever at the country level between private handgun ownership and liberal democracy. There are no cases of democratic countries in which nascent authoritarian governments were successfully resisted due to widespread gun ownership. When authoritarian governments come to power in democracies (which is rare), they do so at the ballot box or with heavy popular support; where juntas overthrow democratic governments, as in Greece, Brazil, Chile or Iran, popular gun ownership is irrelevant. Once authoritarian governments take power, if they decide they don’t want citizens to own guns, they take them away, easily crushing any isolated attempts at resistance. When, on the other hand, authoritarian governments are overthrown in military uprisings (as opposed to peaceful revolutions, which are more common), the arms that defeat them come from defecting soldiers or outside aid. Widespread gun ownership among the common folk may conceivably have been an important obstacle to centralised government control in 17th-century Britain, just emerging from feudalism; but since the universalisation of the modern nation-state in the 19th century, the degree of force that governments can bring to bear has overwhelmed any conceivable popular defence of localised rights and privileges by companies of yeoman musketeers. To stack up against police, the National Guard or the US Army, private gun enthusiasts would, at a minimum, have to be packing an arsenal that would be illegal in any state in the union, even Arizona.
    “Gun rights. A Stinger for Antonin”. July 30th 2012.

    In fact the level restriction (or freedom) of gun-ownership has no correlation to how oppressive the government is. Own guns or not it ain’t protecting you. It also has no correlation to property rights, business rights, Freedom of speech, in fact it poorly correlates to most measure of rights.

    Dingo

  12. lancifer says

    Ed,

    I think it’s rather silly to believe that the Second Amendment is really going to safeguard your rights if the government is intent on taking them away. That amendment may confer a right to own firearms, but not to own grenade launchers, tanks or artillery. All the shotguns and handguns in the world aren’t going to help you overthrow or stop a tyrannical government.

    Tell that to the Libyan people and the citizen militia currently attempting to oust the Assad government in Syria. They started with a handful of Kalashnikovs and are currently surrounding Syrian air bases. In fact the guys that wrote the constitution had just assembled a rag tag militia and were in the process of routing the most powerful government on the planet at the time, the British.

    In any event it was the clear intent of the framers that citizens be armed to dissuade the government from becoming tyrannical. I actually have no problem with people that think it is an antiquated idea attempting to legally amend the constitution to eliminate or change the second amendment. That is how the framers meant for the constitution to be changed.

    What I’m vehemently against is trying to “interpret” the second amendment out of existence. That is tyranny and I would take up arms to oppose such actions if necessary, even though the only gun I have ever owned was a Daisey BB gun when I was a kid.

    (My liberal ex-mother in law tossed the BB gun in protest when I stored it in her garage when my ex and I were moving to a new house. I hope she got a thrill out of her own little act of “gun control”.)

  13. lancifer says

    DJ,

    Such is your opinion.

    Don’t like the second amendment? Change it by getting a two thirds majority of congress to make a new amendment taking away those rights. (Good luck with that.)

    Then get 33 state legislatures to ratify that amendment.

    It’s called the rule of law. You may have heard of it. Perhaps the Economist has found that passe as well.

  14. dingojack says

    Lance – you might like to play with this. Export the data into excel and run a linear regression (a linear trend line) to see how correlated (or not) different kinds of freedoms are relative to each other.

    Freedom of gun ownership (2011).
    Madagascar 80
    United States: 64
    Syria: 58
    China: 45
    Australia: 44
    Fiji: 57
    Egypt: 53

    Note the uniformly increasing level of oppressive governments as you go down the list.

    Dingo

  15. dingojack says

    Lance – so you’re saying that The Economist’s analysis is wrong. How so? What evidence do you have that gun ownership protects people from oppressive governments (not anecdotes – evidence).
    OBTW – Slavery was legal once too, and?
    Dingo

  16. yoav says

    Tell that to the Libyan people

    I seem to remember some NATO airstrikes being involved.

    and the citizen militia currently attempting to oust the Assad government in Syria. They started with a handful of Kalashnikovs and are currently surrounding Syrian air bases.

    The rebbels were being crushed until they started to get large scale defection from the military and as a result access to heavy weaponry, as well as arms from the gulf states.

    In fact the guys that wrote the constitution had just assembled a rag tag militia and were in the process of routing the most powerful government on the planet at the time, the British.

    As pointed in the article Dingo quote that was a time when the type of weaponry available to government wasn’t any different then that available to private citizen, this isn’t the case anymore. Americans also tend to conveniently forget the role of French arms and troops in defeating the British for the sake of some imagined mythology about a bunch of farmers singlehandedly beating the world’s strongest army.

  17. lancifer says

    Dingo,

    You are missing the point. Even if there is no statistical correlation between any given nation’s gun laws and its “freedom” the second amendment is the law in the US and was put there to ensure an individual right to bear arms.

    I really have no interest in discussing whether this was a good idea or not. It is the law regardless. I have no doubt that you and I will not agree on this issue.

    What a surprise.

  18. jba55 says

    D. C. Sessions: “What’s really interesting is that the “real meaning of the Second Amendment” was unknown for almost 200 years, until it was revealed on a set of golden plates that only a few could translate.”

    Heretic! It is widely known, and even more widely believed, that the *true* plates were olive drab on one side and grubby steel on the other. Not like unto an ammunition can. Please render your guns unto the proper constitutional authority.

  19. dingojack says

    Or perhaps I should have said Prohibition was ‘the law of the land’ once too.
    It was ineffective and had unexpected bad consequences, for little gain.
    It’s not really an much of argument in support.
    Dingo

  20. slc1 says

    Re Sir Lancelot @ #14

    In fact the guys that wrote the constitution had just assembled a rag tag militia and were in the process of routing the most powerful government on the planet at the time, the British.

    Sir Lancelot’s knowledge of history is as faulty as his knowledge of climate change. Without the support of France, both in terms of cash, arms, and naval ships, the American Revolution would have died aborning. Ever hear of the battle of the Capes in which a French fleet chased off a British naval task force. Sans this British strategic defeat, no Battle of Yorktown as Cornwallis’ force would have been withdrawn.

    As for the situation in Syria, the rebel forces are being assisted by a number of contingencies.

    1. The rebels have a safe haven in Southern Turkey and are being supplied via that country with arms and cash from the Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia. They also have a safe haven in Northern Jordan.

    2. The rebels have profited greatly by numerous desertions of Sunni Muslims from the Syrian Armed forces.

    3. The rebels have profited from the fact that the Syrian Army has to deploy considerable forces involved opposite the Golan Highths facing elements of the IDF there. These forces are not available to suppress rebel contingents in several major Syrian cities.

  21. dingojack says

    SLC – I suppose you want the right to bear a 15Mt thermonuclear device* :D.
    Dingo
    ——–
    * Well it says ‘arms’, it doesn’t specify what kind

  22. Rodney Nelson says

    Whenever I read some idiot (yeah, lancifer, I’m calling you an idiot) thinking his Glock 9mm is going to protect him against the 101st Airborne, I think about what actually happened in real life.

    In April 1943 the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto tried to oppose removal of Jews to concentration camps. Several thousand Jews armed with rifles, pistols, Molotov cocktails, and a few automatic weapons took on a reinforced SS-Panzergrenadier brigade. It’s estimated 13,000 Jews died during the fighting (many from smoke inhalation and being caught in burning buildings) and most of the remaining 50,000 ghetto inhabitants were sent to the camps. Officially the Germans suffered 100 casualties but the Polish underground believed the real figure was closer to 300 casualties. So we see when civilians armed with rifles and pistols take on regular military troops, the civilians end up losing big time.

    In 1945 the Polish Underground (Armia Krajowa or Home Army) tried to liberate Warsaw from the retreating German Army. The uprising was timed to coincide with the arrival of Soviet forces in the Warsaw area. Primary Polish objectives were to drive the Germans from the city and to establish Polish sovereignty by giving the Polish Government in Exile a base before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. The Soviets stopped short of Warsaw and let the Underground and the Germans fight it out.

    Wikipedia says:

    Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass murders. Jews being harboured by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighbourhoods. German casualties totalled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw’s buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically leveled another 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city.

    In both cases we see that when civilians armed with rifles and pistols take on regular military troops, the civilians end up losing big time.

  23. parasiteboy says

    Ed@11 says

    That amendment may confer a right to own firearms, but not to own grenade launchers, tanks or artillery.

    I have often wondered why there is a limit set on what arms can be owned. I don’t me this facetiously, but the way the 2nd amendment is written, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”, arms such as those mentioned by Ed above should be allowed to be owned by citizens.

    When a country sells rockets and fighter jets to another country it is an “arms deal”.

    The reason that I bring this up is that if we can set a limit on what “arms” can be owned by a private citizen, then the question of “can a limit be set?” is already answered and the question then become where to set the limit.

  24. greenspine says

    In some fairness, the Syrian Armed Forces is not exactly the Wehrmacht.

    Maybe not, but the firepower differential would be similar if all the 2nd amendment Red Dawn fantasists tried to rise up against the modern US military, no matter how many AR-15s they had in their back yard bunkers. I have yet to hear how private assault-rifle ownership acts as a countermeasure to laser-guided munitions launched from a stealthy unmanned drone at 20,000 feet.

  25. says

    I think the Supreme Court essentially got it right three years ago in the DC gun case. I think the Second Amendment does confer a right to own firearms.

    While I disagree strongly with this interpretation (I read it to say that members of a ‘well-regulated militia’ which is to say the National Guard, have got the right to have guns, not just any random yahoo), this is actually completely irrelevant to the question of what level of gun control is advisable. If the second amendment does guarantee a right which turns out to be incompatible with a modern civil society, then it should be changed. The Constitution is not holy writ, and not a single word of it encompasses anything approaching a natural law. Indeed, it doesn’t even compass a very good understanding of political science, let alone economics or sociology. It was a fairly workable model of government when it was written (not good, I wouldn’t say, given that it e.g. enshrines chattel slavery, but it did serve to keep things running more or less), but that was over 200 years ago, and the world is a very different place now, and we need a legal system that works for the world the way it is now. lancifer, this goes for what passes for your argument too.

  26. Homo Straminus says

    Guys, I hate to out-nerd you but Lancifer is a woman from the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan (who was in my opinion an anti-feminist). Perhaps in this forum it’s a dude, but from the text she’s a lady, and a deadly one at that.

    I have no opinions regarding the actual topic at hand that haven’t already been said. Apologies.

  27. Homo Straminus says

    P.S. Yay Glenn! I’m glad he’s still writing incisive pieces, although I admit he dropped off my radar after leaving Salon.com. But then again, so did Salon…

  28. typecaster says

    You are missing the point. Even if there is no statistical correlation between any given nation’s gun laws and its “freedom” the second amendment is the law in the US and was put there to ensure an individual right to bear arms.

    This is called moving the goalposts. Your original claim was that an armed citizenry is a deterrent to tyranny. A number of people called bullshit on that (count me among them), since there’s no evidence at all that an armed citizenry is capable of any such thing. Your response since then has focused on the existence of the Second Amendment, which no one has disputed in any way. We KNOW the Second Amendment is the law of the land – that’s not the subject being discussed. The question being discussed is YOUR claim that arms in citizen hands effectively deters tyranny. That claim is not proven, and you haven’t offered any evidence to support it.
    .
    It seems to me that the one “missing the point” is, well, you. And it was your point to start with.
    .
    Just sayin’.

  29. Homo Straminus says

    @33: Dude, just making the point. I know (s)he is well-known, but I thought it worth saying that it’s a girl’s name would reduce the “Lance” substitutions. I most likely missed the post where he outed himself.

  30. comfychair says

    If you’re in a self defense situation and need more than 3 rounds, you’re dead anyway. Those double 30-rd banana clips do not actually make your penis bigger, and will not save you when Big Brother decides to send a Hellfire missile in thru your bedroom window, and it’s past time that everyone admits that the only thing weapons like that get used for is mass murder.

  31. says

    @34
    For that matter, when I google ‘lancifer’, the whole first page of hits I get are for a Christian straightedge rapper, so your assumption about who our local troll is referencing with his ‘nym.

  32. slc1 says

    Re Homo Straminus @ #30

    The gentleman calling himself Lancifer actually used to comment here using the name Lance. He is a physics teacher at some junior college in the Midwest, possibly Kansas or Iowa.

  33. Michael Heath says

    Glenn Greenwald writes:

    This climate of fear, in turn, leads citizens to refrain from exercising their political rights, especially to refrain from posing meaningful challenges to government authority, because they know the government can act against them without real constraints.

    One of the initial reactions by polling experts regarding the ’12 election was high voter turn-out by blacks and Hispanic voters compared to previous elections. The conclusion was that voter suppression success by the GOP in previous elections coupled to suppression efforts in ’12 was a primary factor in increasing turn-out. So while Mr. Greenwald is correct this can be an outcome, it’s not necessarily the only possible income. It is worth raising as a point and possibility as Greenwald does; but we should also note we do have other options.

    I continue to be impressed with successful modern day revolts against tyranny coming predominately through peaceful means. My generation was raised to believe violent means was the only viable option when it increasingly appears that option is inferior to other available options. Perhaps because conditions have evolved to make this true now but not necessarily true in the past.

    However, I’m increasingly frustrated the U.S. lacks the moral authority and the will to aggressively promote secularism as a necessary ingredient in any revolt attempting to replace tyranny with a liberal democracy, e.g., Egypt. Our failure to protect the equal rights of others in the Jim Crow 1930s was a primary reason FDR balked at taking a more aggressive line against the Nazis in the early- to mid-1930s [1]. We’re now seeing our failure in protecting the separation of church and state cause a similar diplomatic failure when it comes to influencing recent populist uprisings.

    1] Cite: Erik Larsen’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin.

  34. Homo Straminus says

    @38: Ah. Thanks for the clarification/back story. I only know ‘Lancifer’ from the books, so was confused by the name/gender conflation. Thank you again for clarifying!

  35. kyoseki says

    @35

    it’s past time that everyone admits that the only thing weapons like that get used for is mass murder

    There are several million of these things in circulation, the fact that they account for only a handful of the firearms deaths in this country would suggest otherwise.

    According to the FBI, out of 9500+ gun murders in this country in 2009, less than 350 were committed with rifles, that includes both “assault” rifles and hunting rifles. Handguns, in contrast, were responsible for at least 6500 murders.

    So can we put the hyperbole aside? The only thing that the vast majority of these guns get used for is sport/target shooting.

  36. lancifer says

    Hi Dr X,

    Thanks for the clarification on my teaching position.

    As to the other posts…maybe when I have absolutely nothing important to do I’ll respond.

  37. kyoseki says

    Personally speaking, I’m OK with people owning whatever the hell they want to, but they should have to demonstrate both proficiency and responsibility first.

    The 2nd Amendment begins “A well regulated militia”, so let’s just regulate the militia (and I’m sorry, but claiming that the 2nd Amendment only applies to the National Guard is a non-starter, it’s already been confirmed by the Supreme Court as an individual right, so harping on about that just makes you sound like a Conservative bitching about Roe v Wade).

    Earning the right to own a firearm would go a long way toward building respect within society – most European countries, for example, allow you to own many of the same firearms you’re allowed to own here, without anything like the same level of gun violence.

    We already put restrictions on the types of weapons you can own and when (for example, you cannot buy a handgun until you’re 21), so I don’t see any problems with placing similar restrictions on other firearms such as semiautomatic rifles.

    I would propose:
    At 18, you are able to own a “basic” firearm, say a .22 rifle or a single/double barreled shotgun
    At 21, you can own a handgun (semiauto or revolver), but ONLY if you’ve owned a basic firearm for a year without any incidents
    At 23, you can own an AR/AK type semiauto rifle, but again, ONLY if you’ve owned handguns for at least 2 years without incidents.

    All stages would require proficiency testing – if you don’t know what you’re doing with the things, then they’re not going to be of any use to you.

  38. kyoseki says

    Sorry that should read “Earning to the right to own a firearm would go a long way toward building respect FOR FIREARMS within society”, something we’re sadly lacking here and I feel that stems from the attitude that it’s a god given right.

  39. Michael Heath says

    kyoseki,

    Without getting to your level of specificity, I don’t have a problem with your general policy prescription; i.e., there are very good arguments for the regulation of guns more in-line with how we regulate driver’s licenses. I do have a problem with how you refer to our rights . . .

    kyoseki writes:

    Earning the right to own a firearm

    We don’t earn our rights since they aren’t granted to us, a government which grants the exercise of rights is by definition tyrannical. Instead in a free society, our rights belong to us where they are inalienable. So the more relevant questions regarding a particular right, in your case the right to own and bear arms, are the following:
    1) Does the federal government have an obligation to protect a particular individual right? In your example, the right to own and bear arms. Even if the 2nd doesn’t refer to a individual right which is now precedent, the 9th Amendment still demands the court consider the federal government’s obligation to defend our right to own and bear arms, including against state laws which infringe upon the exercise of that right.

    2) Did we delegate specific powers to the federal government which allows them to infringe up on our right to own and bear arms? Related, do state laws infringing on our exercise of a right(s) violate a right the federal government is obligated to defend? Precedent from the two recent SCOTUS cases currently and emphatically states, “yes”, both the federal government and the states can infringe upon the exercise of our right though not to the point of prohibition for the average Joe.

    3) Do other individuals have a competing right and if so, whose right should enjoy the protection of the government at the expense of the other? In the case of gun rights this is largely unexplored territory in the courts; I predict this argument will gain increasing consideration given how gun ownership rates are decreasing. A court which acknowledges the existence and fealty to the 9th Amendment would most likely greatly favor individuals who seek to protect themselves in public from those who bear arms. Probably not to the extent of prohibition to bear arms, but possibly the prohibition of most concealed weapons rights though not open-carry rights. However, my confidence the SCOTUS will soon acknowledge and consider our 9th Amendment rights is very low.

  40. lancifer says

    kyoseki,

    Well, a reasonable voice among the many irrational and emotional rants. I agree with everything you just said. I even like your restrictions.

    See, I have no problem with reasonable restrictions on firearms. The individual right to bear arms is no different than any of the other rights protected by the constitution. It carries with it the responsibility to not infringe on the rights of others.

    Oh, and you can actually get a permit to own fully automatic weapons. One of my neighbors has several fully automatic weapons including an M-16, an Uzi and a Thompson sub machine gun. As you might expect the back ground checks are extensive, including finger printing etc.

    And the last time I checked no one has ever been murdered by some one with a fully automatic weapons licence (tax stamp to be precise). First of all it would just be easier to use a hand gun in most instances and the people that own fully automatic weapons are a pretty stable bunch.

  41. lancifer says

    Now one post above accuses my of “moving the goal posts” because I’m not willing to argue about whether armed citizens can effectively oppose a well armed tyrannical government. I’m not moving the goal posts. I just have no interest in arguing that point at the moment.

    Although I will just say that the posts that mention that various revolutions and uprisings had help other than the small arms of the citizen combatants in no way means that those small arms were not important in those various struggles.

  42. lancifer says

    Also, I actually agree with Michael Heath (holy cow write down the date), at least up to, and perhaps partially including, his point number two.

    The constitution does not grant rights, as Mr. Heath correctly points out, they are inalienable.

  43. lancifer says

    kyoseki,

    Oh, I hadn’t seen your post at #45 when I said I agreed with everything you said.

    As my above post #49 indicates rights are not granted by the government. I agree that they are not however “God given” except as a metaphor for innate.

  44. bnerd says

    Meh. I don’t really think this is as “badass” as you make it sound. Fear can be a good motivator; and I think this is especially true in crisis situations. But that doesn’t apply to everything. Fear can spark aggression (as has been shown in multiple psychological studies) and certainly, no one has presented evidence that a Government more afraid of its people is less likely to be totalitarian than a Government less afraid (if anything I’d wager someone like Stalin was intensely afraid of the people as paranoid as he was, to use but one example). That’s not to say the citizens should be helpless. But I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that fear motivated relationships produce great results on either end.

  45. kyoseki says

    *shrug*

    They are only “inalienable” because we deem them to be so.

    The Constitution delineates those rights that the Federal Government are obligated to protect, yes, but those rights can be (and have been) amended at any time with sufficient popular will.

    Are all European countries tyrannical because they place restrictions on firearms ownership? Is our government non-tyrannical simply because they do not?

  46. slc1 says

    Re Sir Lancelot @ #48

    Now one post above accuses my of “moving the goal posts” because I’m not willing to argue about whether armed citizens can effectively oppose a well armed tyrannical government. I’m not moving the goal posts. I just have no interest in arguing that point at the moment.

    That’s because Sir Lancelot doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground relative to history, as with climate change. His contention has been totally discredited by myself and Mr. Nelson. Without the support of France, the American Revolution would have been a failure and Washington and his compatriots would have been hung for treason. Similarly, without the arms’ smuggling from Turkey, the Syrian rebels would have been wiped out long ago.

  47. lancifer says

    bnerd,

    I don’t presume to speak for Ed or Greenwald, but I assume the idea is that a government that fears it’s citizens is less likely to try to fuck them over. Kind’a like the idea that if your bother or sister in law is a mixed martial arts champion you are perhaps a bit less likely to smack your spouse.

    (Feminists please note my careful wording that is completely gender neutral.)

  48. bnerd says

    Lancifer,

    I guess I have a hard time believing that; as fear is a tool that can be both positive and negative. But speaking more broadly, whether you think the Government should be small and less active or larger and more active; in order to come up with decent solutions you have to understand your constituents and their concerns as best you can. I just don’t think fear enables that. Perhaps I’m wrong, but the activist in me who’s been working in the LGBTQ community for years can’t help but think a more harminious relationship would produce better results all round than one based on fear.

  49. lancifer says

    slc1,

    How does any of that imply that small arms were of no utility to these rebellions? Please show me where I said that privately held weapons were a necessary and sufficient condition to overthrow a tyrannical government.

    Seriously dude, you should perhaps spend more time carefully considering both your argument and that of the person you are verbally maligning before spouting vituperate and off the mark rejoinders.

    And for Christ’s sake I’ve told you the name of the University where I teach about ten times. It aint no “junior college” Clem.

    Also why in the hell do you have to drag “climate change” into every thread in which I comment? It’s like a kid that likes to tattle on his sibling when caught by his parents “But Billy hit me first and he stole a cookie last week!”

  50. lancifer says

    bnerd,

    I completely agree with you that a government peopled by officials that respect and understand the needs of their constituents is the ideal situation, but occasionally some pretty bad actors gain power even in democratic systems and it doesn’t hurt if they know that they can’t use force to impose their will on the people they are suppose to be serving.

    Kind of like my above spouse analogy. I would prefer my sister or brother have a spouse that loves them and has their best interests at heart and would never consider using force or violent intimidation against them. But I don’t mind them knowing that I am 6’4″ and weigh 220lbs in case they were considering force as an option.

  51. Michael Heath says

    kyoseki writes:

    *shrug*

    They are only “inalienable” because we deem them to be so.

    The Constitution delineates those rights that the Federal Government are obligated to protect, yes, but those rights can be (and have been) amended at any time with sufficient popular will.

    No, you’ve still got it wrong with two new defects thrown in as well.

    The 9th Amendment expressly notes our rights go beyond those which in your words are, “delineated”. Using your framework we effectively grant government the right to conjure up whether an unenumerated right exists or doesn’t, but that is not even remotely correct. Such deliberation would instead be a direct violation of the standard set in the Declaration of Independence regarding the concept of just governance.

    Consider the court upholding restrictions of student speech rights in Bong Hits for Jesus, in spite of the existence of the 1st Amendment. In that case J. Thomas’ argument hinges on whether the government has to protect those rights and claims, “no” (my above #1). That the states have sufficiently delegated powers to prohibit such speech (my above #2). The courts are technically limited by the parameters of how we define rights which is why I objected to your defective framework. When the framework I published above is violated, that is where we encounter a violation of the Constitution and an unjust infringement on our rights but importantly since the courts generally follow what I pointed out above, public policy is crafted without a sufficient appreciation of our rights, the idea of limited government, and the competing rights of others.

    kyoseki writes:

    The Constitution delineates those rights that the Federal Government are obligated to protect, yes

    The Constitution expressly limits the power of the states to infringe upon our rights, i.e., see the 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments along with the Supremacy clause as examples.

    kyoseki writes:

    The Constitution delineates those rights that the Federal Government are obligated to protect, yes, but those rights can be (and have been) amended at any time with sufficient popular will.

    I never argued otherwise. In fact I expressly noted such in my item #2:

    Did we delegate specific powers to the federal government which allows them to infringe up on our right to own and bear arms?

    But such constitutional infringements doesn’t make our right(s) disappear, it instead is a cost we incur living in a ‘liberal democracy’ with heavy emphasis on the latter word.

  52. Michael Heath says

    I inadvertently submitted the above comment prior to completing and proofing, sorry for the grammatical errors. I also used Bong Hits as an illustration because J. Thomas correct use of the framework I report above also reveals how weak his argument is. Specifically, that we delegated power to the state to deny students the type of speech being considered; where his argument was “tradition” rather than an ability to point to any text in the Constitution which delegated such powers. It’s far easier to discern this failure by the Court when they at least use the proper framework for considering rights.

  53. lancifer says

    kyoseki,

    Er, what Michael Heath just said, quite eloquently I might add.

    At any rate I have no problem with the sensible restrictions on gun ownership you listed, so long as there isn’t some underlying precedent making weapons ownership a “privilege” granted by the government rather than a sensible and democratically derived limitation on an existing right.

    But on a practical level it is mostly the same thing. Guns should only be owned by people that have not previously demonstrated a reason that said ownership would be a clear and present danger to the well being of others.

    My neighbor with the fully auto weapons is no threat to me or anyone else. Well anyone not stupid enough to go into his house and attempt to do him harm. In any case he would be sensible enough to dispatch them with one of his many hand guns.

    Fully automatic gunfire is just too messy, and the bullets are really expensive!

  54. kyoseki says

    You missed my larger point;
    In the grand scheme of things, there is no such thing as an inalienable right, regardless of whether it’s enumerated in the Constitution or not.

    There is nothing physically stopping the US from repealing the 2nd amendment; it would be politically difficult (and somewhat unlikely), but it is not impossible. This then would allow individual States & municipalities to enact legislation banning firearms left, right and center with the inevitable clusterfuck that would ensue.

    Would the right to keep and bear arms still be considered inalienable in that instance? I would say not. The very definition of inalienable means unable to be taken away, the fact that certain other countries have largely already done so would suggest that this “right” is anything but.

    All “rights” are fluid and considered by society as a whole, they can be given & taken away simply by modifying the Constitution (or whichever social contract your society happens to use as a basis) to do so.

    Whether we consider it a right we’re unable to exercise or not a right at all is functionally irrelevant.

  55. kyoseki says

    Yeah, I have no fundamental problem with people owning fully automatic weapons either, but the paperwork should be (and is) horrific :)

  56. says

    @Michael Heath
    First you say that

    We don’t earn our rights since they aren’t granted to us, a government which grants the exercise of rights is by definition tyrannical. Instead in a free society, our rights belong to us where they are inalienable

    How was this determined? What rights are inalienable? In what sense are they inalienable, since quite clearly any and all rights can, in fact, be taken away by a society which chooses to do so? What process is used to distinguish inalienable rights from other rights?
    The only citations you provide are from Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, neither of which represent anything other than a particular society’s definition of rights at a particular time. Indeed, the Constitution excluded quite a lot of people from the realm of those who have rights when it was first written.

  57. lancifer says

    Oh, and I think I mentioned this somewhere above, but it bears repeating, I have never owned a firearm nor do I plan to purchase one anytime soon.

    While I am distressed with certain excesses of the federal and even some state and local governments I don’t see armed rebellion as a useful or necessary option in the foreseeable future.

    There is a cliched saying that goes something like “Soap box, mail box, ballot box, jury box and ammo box……use in that order. ”

    I think there are a few boxes left in the progression before going to the ammo box. But I’m more comfortable knowing it’s there if we need it.

  58. kyoseki says

    Well, as long as we’re confessing;
    I do own firearms (though not any AR type weapons), but use them exclusively for sport/target shooting, they are kept locked up or dismantled when not in use.

    Like most liberal gun owners, I have no problem with reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, but the fringes in these kinds of debate always do the bulk of the shouting. People either want a complete gun ban or they want the things sold in supermarkets.

    The legislation being proposed right now (Feinstein’s reinstatement of an assault weapons ban) will not be effective in curbing firearms deaths, nor even in preventing mass shootings, we need to find another solution, but I believe that that lies in changing society’s attitudes toward the things.

    The UK, for example, never had a significant problem with gun violence, even when it was possible to own
    “assault” rifles there (similarly most European & other industrialized nations allow firearms ownership without the same level of violence that we see here). Conversely, Mexico & Brazil both continue to suffer major problems with gun violence even though they have de facto bans on the things – this is the path I suspect the US would go down were any firearms ban enacted.

  59. slc1 says

    Re Sir Lancelot @ #56

    How does any of that imply that small arms were of no utility to these rebellions?

    Neither I nor anyone else said they were of no utility. Our point is that, in the absence of an outside force, they would be virtually useless. Thus far, 4 examples have been supplied demonstrating that to most folks satisfaction. Sir Lancelot has yet to supply a single instance where they were even close to providing a rebel force with significant resistance to a professional fighting force. We have already demolished Sir Lancelot’s references to the American Revolution and the Syrian Rebellion.

    As for climate change, every time Sir Lancelot posts a comment which I reply to in rebuttal, that subject will be brought up, whether he likes it or not.

  60. lancifer says

    kyoseki,

    I like shooting guns, but not enough to pay money for one or the ammo. I live in a very safe neighborhood and haven’t felt the need for a weapon in my home, although I have considered it on occasion. There have been times in my life when a concealed weapon would have been useful, but I doubt I would ever commit to carrying it day to day.

    I have shot my neighbor’s M-16, Thompson and his Uzi. It was fun for about twenty minutes and then we ran out of old TV’s and other junk to shoot to hell and gone. Then it was just noisy and expensive. (He makes me pay for my rounds and on full auto the M-16 empties a full thirty round magazine in about two seconds if you hold the trigger too long.)

    Not to mention the sobering stress of having to be constantly aware to keep the muzzle down because high rounds could go over the earthen berm and travel for quite a distance, possibly endangering people not even in visual range. An automatic weapon loaded with .223 ball ammo is after all not a toy to be taken lightly.

    I would have to have more money and fewer other interests before I took up shooting.

    I agree with your assessments of both the (in) effectiveness of an assault weapons ban (largely a dubious limit on the look of a weapon) and the underlying reasons that gun violence is so much more prevalent in the US than European countries.

    I fear that the public clamor for action in the currently highly emotionally charged political atmosphere will result in some very poor and ineffective public policy.

  61. kyoseki says

    @68

    I fear that the public clamor for action in the currently highly emotionally charged political atmosphere will result in some very poor and ineffective public policy.

    Agreed, right now we’re looking at an awful lot of ill informed support for what will likely prove to be ineffective legislation. At least she’s learned from the pathetic California assault weapons legislation though and has decided to include ALL semiautomatic rifles instead of trying to just ban the ones that LOOK scary.

    That said, I do not agree with your idea that armed insurrection is likely to be effective for a couple of reasons;
    1: There is no way you could organize any kind of substantive resistance without being thoroughly dismantled by the US’ intelligence apparatus before any kind of attack could be mounted
    2: There simply is no need for it – if there’s one thing we’ve seen lately, it’s that the government (of either party) can happily enact any kind of totalitarian legislation without any significant resistance, they simply need to either sell it as necessary to make everyone safer or alternative to push legislation as a way to do away with any right enjoyed by “the other side” (like gay marriage or true religious freedom).

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that the conservative right are happy to volunteer away just about every right except the right to own guns, which they cling to ironically in the name of defending those very same rights.

  62. lancifer says

    kyoseki,

    Don’t agree with your two points but as I said, to less interesting posters, I really have no interest in playing out hypothetical resistance scenarios at the moment.

    It is a fact that the framers thought that firearms were an important deterrent to tyranny and that is the basis of the 2nd amendment. It wasn’t put there to protect the rights of hunters, target shooters or people defending their homes from criminals.

  63. yoav says

    It is a fact that the framers thought that firearms were an important deterrent to tyranny and that is the basis of the 2nd amendment.

    If you look at the original language of the amendment suggested by Madison
    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”
    it seem clear that the well regulated militia part was the significant part and the right to bear arms was intended as a defense against a foreign invasion.

  64. lancifer says

    yoav,

    You may have noticed the word “free” in that draft. Do you seriously contend that they felt the need to enumerate the rights of the army to have guns in the Bill of Rights as a safeguard against invasion by foreign powers?

    Also there is a wealth of contemporaneous writings of Jefferson, Madison, Franklin etc. that show the clear intent of the 2nd amendment was to protect an individual right to bear arms for the purpose of deterring an overly powerful central government.

    Here are just a few from Thomas Jefferson.

    “The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” -Thomas Jefferson

    “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”-Thomas Jefferson

    “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”-Thomas Jefferson

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” Thomas Jefferson

    It is no great task to Google up plenty from many of the other framers.

    If you want to claim that the 2nd amendment is antiquated or anachronistic that’s a fair argument, albeit one I think is wrong. But to claim that is wasn’t meant to safeguard the liberty of individuals against the tyranny of the state is sophistic at best and dishonest at worst.

  65. lancifer says

    kyoseki,

    Granted I didn’t dig through his personal papers at Monticello or anything. I just Googled “Thomas Jefferson quotes” so their may be a misattribution or popularized paraphrase in there somewhere. I wasn’t researching a thesis, just throwing together a blog post..

    Have you memorized everything the man ever said or is there some other reason you doubt those first two?

    Either way there are plenty of well known quotes of the framers on the topic.

  66. kyoseki says

    Just check wikiquote, they’re usually pretty reliable.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution check the “misattributed” box at the bottom of the page.

    As a general rule, if you can’t find the original source, then the quote is extremely suspect. You don’t get to claim that he might have said it just because nobody can prove he didn’t, that’s the same kind of tactic employed by people like David Barton.

    I know that’s one thing that really (and justifiably) gets up Ed’s nose.

  67. dingojack says

    Lance – “If you want to claim that the 2nd amendment is antiquated or anachronistic that’s a fair argument, albeit one I think is wrong“.

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating in this context. (I forgot to add the obvious: ‘and once they realised how idiotic and dangerous it was, they repealed it’).

    But to claim that is wasn’t meant to safeguard the liberty of individuals against the tyranny of the state is sophistic at best and dishonest at worst

    And I’m sure Mr Jefferson had an opinion on whether one should sleep with the windows open or closed too, but how is that relevant to the 21st century context? Laws aren’t handed down from god on golden tablets, they are living things that are meant to serve the population now, in the ‘real’ world.
    Mr Jefferson’s opinions (or Madison’s, or Hamilton’s & etc.) simply aren’t relevant.
    I’m guessing the ‘Founding Fathers’ thought that successive generations would think for themselves about what laws are appropriate for the context in which they found themselves.

    Dingo

  68. lancifer says

    Upon further review…

    I found this on the second one.

    “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”-Unproven! This quote was not found in the Jeffersonian Cyclopedia but several websites have attributed this to Jefferson.

    So I’m not sure it’s “bunk” but it is questionable.

  69. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I really have no interest in discussing whether this was a good idea or not. It is the law regardless.

    And you fucking DARE call others servile?

  70. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I have yet to hear how private assault-rifle ownership acts as a countermeasure to laser-guided munitions launched from a stealthy unmanned drone at 20,000 feet.

    Oh, that’s easy: it’s an UNMANNED drone. And a MANLY MAN clutching a MANLY GUN is VERY MANLY INDEED, far more than MANLY enough to swat the drone from the sky!

  71. Michael Heath says

    kyoseki writes:

    You missed my larger point;
    In the grand scheme of things, there is no such thing as an inalienable right . . .

    I missed nothing, you’re wrong and now you’re wrong from an entirely different perspective with this newest assertion. Of course we can’t empirically prove rights exist and they are inalienable. We instead assert rights exist and they’re inalienable within in a specific context, which I noted earlier is the Declaration of Independence here in the U.S. All humans can also now look to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The Declaration of Independence is an argument, one that provides perspective on the just relationship between government and people – where people are considered a collection of individuals. The DofI arguably carries no statutory weight but instead provides a standard to weigh statutes against (some claim the DofI should be considered in constitutional questions, but they are few and extreme, e.g., Clarence Thomas). The DofI sets a standard of “just governance” that asserts governments which fail to meet this standard, and all do to some degree, do so illegitimately and thus are ripe for reform or in some cases, revolt.

    If we were to unjustly infringe upon a collection of individuals rights, say a constitutional amendment that demands government protect the speech rights only of white men more than all other people, that doesn’t mean the speech rights of those infringed upon cease to exist as you assert, but instead means the government has violated the equal rights standard of the DofI and the UDHR.

    kyoseki writes:

    There is nothing physically stopping the US from repealing the 2nd amendment; it would be politically difficult (and somewhat unlikely), but it is not impossible. This then would allow individual States & municipalities to enact legislation banning firearms left, right and center with the inevitable clusterfuck that would ensue.

    Wrong again. We can certainly repeal the 2nd Amendment, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to the court could finding sufficient delegative powers at the federal or state levels needed to prohibit the exercise and protection of our individual right to own and bear arms.

    kyoseki writes:

    Would the right to keep and bear arms still be considered inalienable in that instance? I would say not. The very definition of inalienable means unable to be taken away, the fact that certain other countries have largely already done so would suggest that this “right” is anything but.

    An inalienable right doesn’t cease to exist simply because a government fails to protect the exercise of a right. For example, a Chinese citizen’s right to speech is every bit as inalienable as our right to speech in spite of that right being infringed upon by their government. Instead what we observe is tyranny by the Chinese government given they infringe upon that right rather than protecting that right. So the question isn’t whether a right exists or not, but the appropriateness of government action within the context that people assert their rights are theirs and they’re rights are inalienable. See my original, #1, #2, and #3 to review how we analyze the appropriateness of government behavior at the SCOTUS level (lower courts are also bound by precedent).

    My property rights exist in spite of the government getting a cut of my income, wealth, and consumption via certain unavoidable taxes I pay. This infringement on my property rights is not however, “unjust”. Precisely because I live in a liberal democracy where we’ve democratically delegated power to government entities to tax us in a manner that doesn’t violate the ‘just governance’ standard we assert via the DofI. Nor is this power to tax caused by, ‘the tyranny of the [simple] majority’, infringing upon that right. Instead that infringement required a super-majority to optimally which optimally defends individual rights while acknowledging we must suffer the infringement of some rights in order to co-exist.

  72. thomasmorris says

    It is a fact that the framers thought that firearms were an important deterrent to tyranny and that is the basis of the 2nd amendment.

    And as others have rightfully pointed out, what made sense 250 years ago doesn’t make as much sense now. Back then, it was possible that a movement with enough public support could use its firearms to overthrow a tyrannical government. That’s because the people were able to meet agents of the tyrannical government on fairly equal ground in regards to weaponry and firepower.

    Nowadays, on the other hand, any guerrilla movement – particularly an American one – is going to be hopelessly outmatched.

    America spends more on its military than any other country in the world. Your guns aren’t going to do you much of any good against its fighter planes, bombs, missiles, drones, tanks, and various other implements of destruction.

    Doesn’t mean I think all guns should be banned or anything like that, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that your guns are going to protect you in the extremely unlikely chance that the government wants to kill you. Yes, that was part of what the founders intended – but times have changed significantly since then. What was wise in the 18th century doesn’t necessarily make as much sense in the 21st century.

  73. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    We don’t earn our rights since they aren’t granted to us, a government which grants the exercise of rights is by definition tyrannical. Instead in a free society, our rights belong to us where they are inalienable .

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy responds:

    How was this determined? What rights are inalienable? In what sense are they inalienable, since quite clearly any and all rights can, in fact, be taken away by a society which chooses to do so? What process is used to distinguish inalienable rights from other rights?

    The idea of inalienable rights is a product of enlightenment thinking. Specifically the result of emergent enlightenment thinkers rejecting the idea that some have the divine right to rule over others. This was supplanted by the idea that government and its people have a contractual obligation to each other; an early and exemplary example would be the 1689 English Bill of Rights.

    All our negative rights are inalienable and was asserted as such during the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There is no governing body which has delegated powers to define what rights exist or don’t exist, instead see the numbered items at my post @ 46 to understand the context within which the SCOTUS considers how the government should act when the infringement upon a right is considered by them. The SCOTUS doesn’t determine whether a right exists or doesn’t, but instead whether the SCOTUS has an obligation to defend the exercise of that right, whether government has sufficient delegated authority (power) to infringe upon that right, or whether they have to infringe upon a right to defend what they determine is the superior right(s) of another.

    An excellent primer on rights and just governance is Randy Barnett’s, Restoring the Lost Constitution. An excellent introduction to the meaning of the DofI is Pauline Maier’s, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, which is now considered the authoritative text on the development of the DofI. Akhil Reed Amar’s, The Bill of Rights, is an excellent introduction to the history of how rights and the exercise of U.S. government power has played out historically in the U.S. Justice Stephen Breyer’s Active Liberty provides an argument on how rights and government should play-out according to his preferences. I also cite him here because he provides illustrative examples that enriches our understanding on the interplay between our rights and government action where Breyer’s biased preference towards democracy provides competing arguments to Barnett’s biased preference towards individualism.

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy responds:

    The only citations you provide are from Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, neither of which represent anything other than a particular society’s definition of rights at a particular time. Indeed, the Constitution excluded quite a lot of people from the realm of those who have rights when it was first written.

    I add more context in my previous comment post, in particular the 1948 UDHR. And you are correct that the U.S. government initially failed to sufficiently protect the rights of others and thus wasn’t in conformance with the standards set in the DofI. It still fails perfection relative to both the DofI and the UDHR, e.g., the right of gays and their families to enjoy equal due process and equal protection equivalent to those enjoyed by family members of heterosexual-led families.

    So even today we fail to meet the ‘just governance’ equality standard of the DofI. This imperfection at ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was well known, which is why we see the phrase, “in order to form a more perfect union”, rather than, “in order to form a perfect union”. Our current president does an excellent job of noting how like-minded people aspire to standards set in the DofI while recognizing we’re not there yet. His Cairo speech is a great example of his argument in this area as was his 2008 campaign speech on religion, both have total fealty to the arguments which developed the DofI, U.S. Constitution, and the UDHR. Unfortunately President Obama’s actions don’t always meet his lofty rhetoric as Ed Brayton has long reported.

  74. Michael Heath says

    lancifer writes:

    It is a fact that the framers thought that firearms were an important deterrent to tyranny and that is the basis of the 2nd amendment.

    D.C. v. Heller reveals the framers who favored the 2nd Amendment were not all basing their support in order to mitigate the threat of tyranny against one’s own government. J. Scalia presents a case which reveals some made this argument, though most of his sources were made prior to the development of the 2nd Amendent where that’s good enough for him (and obviously, the majority).

    However J. Steven’s dissent reveals the threat of tyranny was not a monolithically applied basis to develop and support the 2nd Amendment. Stevens did find a universally agreed-to basis for the 2nd Amendment. That was the need for states to support military resources needed to support federal action, especially given that at the time, the U.S. didn’t have a sufficient standing army and navy where there was debate whether we should or shouldn’t maintain one during times of peace. That lack of a fully staffed military and debate whether it was necessary was the primary premise which resulted in a need for citizens to quickly transform themselves into some semblance of a militia, ergo, the 2nd Amendment.

    However as I noted earlier, even if the 2nd Amendment didn’t numerate a individual right to own and bear arms, that doesn’t necessarily equate to the government having delegated powers to infringe upon that right. The U.S. government would still need to test whether it had sufficient authority to prohibit the owning and bearing of arms, whether the states had such power if a state law was challenged, while also considering any competing rights challenges.

  75. says

    Michael Heath

    The idea of inalienable rights is a product of enlightenment thinking.

    Yes, I’m perfectly aware of this. So is the idea of the Luminiferous aether. It does not, however, constitute evidence of anything.

    I add more context in my previous comment post, in particular the 1948 UDHR.

    Yes, you’ve now cited three different lists of ‘inalienable rights’ (Engligh Bill of Rights, U.S. Contitution, UDHR). These three documents have wildly different lists of rights on them which are supposedly inalienable. Which one is right? How do you know?

    as was his 2008 campaign speech on religion, both have total fealty to the arguments which developed the DofI, U.S. Constitution, and the UDHR

    And well the focus should have been on religion, as the entire concept of rights having an existence external to a society is a faith claim.
    From the UDHR preamble:

    Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, …

    (Emphasis mine.)
    So, do you have any actual evidence to back up your claim that some things guaranteed to all citizens by their governments are special magical rights that can’t be* taken away (e.g. guns), while other things guaranteed to all citizens by their governments (e.g. Health care) aren’t.

    *except when they are

  76. mishcakes says

    I’m trying to flesh this thought out in my own head, so bear with me. I’m sure there will be holes, but feel the underlying assumptions to make sense.

    I find the idea of rights, extending beyond one’s own physical person to be nonsensical. For instance, it makes perfect sense to me for a person to have rights to his or her own body (anti-slavery, pro-choice), what he or she does with his or her own body (pro-marriage, pro-drugs being legal, pro-practice religion if you want to), how he or she is treated because of his or her body (pro-equality in the workforce, pro-ADA). And rights to decide/vote on rules/privileges governing ones life beyond that, rule/privileges not to infringe on the inalienable rights listed above.

    I think that owning things is on a case-by-case, state-by-state, country-by-country basis and should be called a rule or privilege.

    For example, I own my house, but if my country, by vote, decided that it was now owned by the city and I would be paying the city rent instead of the bank a mortgage… well, I might be pissed, but I would also be able to vote to switch it back. So, I think that home ownership is a rule or a privilege I have because I happen to live somewhere that grants me that privilege. If my dwelling was suddenly city-owned, it would still be “mine” in the sense that any Joe on the street wouldn’t be able to come in and help himself to a beer and have a nap on the couch (exactly similar to renting a home from a landlord). Home ownership is not a right.

    For another example, wages. I earn a wage and my government has decided that I do not own about 20% of that wage, give or take. In other words, I do not have a right to all the money I earn, I have a rule that states I must give some of it up. The 80% of what I take home is a privilege of the country/state/city in which I live.

    Same with arms. I think that owning arms, certain types of arms, certain amounts of ammo, etc should all be a privilege. In a sense, the restrictions somewhat in place already give it the status of a privilege rather than a right, after all, I can’t go purchase a rocket launcher even though the 2nd Amendment might be interpreted to give me that “right”. But I see arms ownership the same way that I do car ownership, and am surprised that one is a right while one is a privilege.

  77. Michael Heath says

    Dalillama writes:

    Yes, I’m perfectly aware of [rights are a product of enlightenment thinking]. So is the idea of the Luminiferous aether. It does not, however, constitute evidence of anything.

    I never argued from an evidentiary perspective while previously pointing out the impossiblity of doing so. I.e., that no group can objectively determine what is a right and what is not a right. Nor could any group justly use their findings to infringe upon the rights of others. Instead I pointed out a least a couple of times that instead we can and actually do determine the role government must play in the just defense or infringement of our rights.

    Dalillama writes:

    Yes, you’ve now cited three different lists of ‘inalienable rights’ (Engligh Bill of Rights, U.S. Contitution, UDHR). These three documents have wildly different lists of rights on them which are supposedly inalienable. Which one is right? How do you know?

    I never claimed any of those documents lists our inalienable rights so I suggest re-reading what I wrote in reference to them. I also expressly pointed out the Constitution’s 9th Amendment points out we have unenumerated rights and therefore we instead look to how government must act when the infringement of a right is challenged in court. Your analysis is as nonsensical as you describe it as being; precisely because as the framers knew and I pointed out earlier, neither you or anyone can determine what is and what is not a right. There is no feasible and just method.

    So we need to discard with the idea that any group can define the rights of others. It’s an impossible task. We can instead determine how government should act and whether it adheres to a standard of ‘just governance’. “Just governance” is of course a subjective standard, but objective when it comes to asserting.

    Me earlier as quoted by Dalillama:

    as was [Barack Obama’s] 2008 campaign speech on religion, both have total fealty to the arguments which developed the DofI, U.S. Constitution, and the UDHR . . .

    Dalillama responds:

    . . . the entire concept of rights having an existence external to a society is a faith claim.

    Dalillama then cites the UDHR preamble:

    Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, …
    emphasis Dailillama]

    Faith has different meanings where I do not read the meaning of this claim as related to religious belief. I disagree that the, entire concept of rights having an existence external to a society is a faith claim.. That is not the necessarily the framework U.S. or other countries. In fact, the DofI Drafting Committee (most likely Ben Franklin), had Jefferson change the religious-friendly “sacred” to the science-friendly “self-evident” from Jefferson’s rough draft to the final draft. Here’s Jefferson’s rough draft:

    We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; . . .

    to the final draft:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Where “creator” can be read as an individual will, including Spinoza’s god (natural laws without any attribution to a deity). Now I readily admit this is a somewhat awkward defense that faith isn’t necessarily involved in the assertion of rights. I think my defense is however arguable, where those who claim rights also come from a god have an argument which is reflective not of empirical truth, but instead a reflection of the times in which humans began to assert their rights.

    So if we lived in an atheistic society, would we have to abandon the DofI because of the reference to a creator coupled to our assertion our rights belong to each of us individually and no other human has the right to define those rights? I think not. I see this assertion in the DofI still effectively serves as a convenient artifice where the more accurate argument now would be that our rights belong to us and our countless. Therefore we can’t look to define what is and what is not a right, the very concern framers like James Madison had by numerating some rights and not others. But instead must direct our attention to government action and what is required of it to protect certain rights and justly infringe on other rights, either through the just delegation of power or in order to defend the superior competing rights of others.

  78. says

    Michael Heath

    I never argued from an evidentiary perspective while previously pointing out the impossiblity of doing so. I.e., that no group can objectively determine what is a right and what is not a right. Nor could any group justly use their findings to infringe upon the rights of others. Instead I pointed out a least a couple of times that instead we can and actually do determine the role government must play in the just defense or infringement of our rights.

    This is incoherent. If no one can objectively determine what is and is not a right, how can you determine when the rights of others have been infringed? What rights do you mean and why? Where do they come from other than legal guarantees and enforcement of same?

    neither you or anyone can determine what is and what is not a right.

    Then what are we even discussing? If no one can determine what is and is not a right, then no one can possibly come to any conlclusions about whether they’re being infringed, defended, or shoved into small tin cans like sardines. Are sardines rights? Who can tell? No one can determine what is or isn’t a right, after all.

    So we need to discard with the idea that any group can define the rights of others. It’s an impossible task.

    Nonsense. It’s done all the time, by every government everywhere. The Bill of Rights(English or U.S.), and the UDHR, consist of nothing but defining the rights of others, particularly the former two, as no one involved with writing them is alive anymore, so any rights which they define are defined for those other than the people who created them.

    In fact, the DofI Drafting Committee (most likely Ben Franklin), had Jefferson change the religious-friendly “sacred” to the science-friendly “self-evident” from Jefferson’s rough draft to the final draft.

    The wording changes nothing, nor is ‘self-evident’ notably friendly to scientific thought. Presuppositionalist apologists insist that their god is self-evident, but that doesn’t make it so. Quite a lot of things that people consider to be self-evident turn out not to be true under scientific investigation.

    Therefore we can’t look to define what is and what is not a right, the very concern framers like James Madison had by numerating some rights and not others. But instead must direct our attention to government action and what is required of it to protect certain rights and justly infringe on other rights,

    This is still as incoherent as it was when you said it above. If rights can’t be defined, how can it be determined whether they’re being infringed?

    I am arguing for an idea of rights very similar to that which kyoseki has been advancing, in that rights are something which a given society has decided that all members should have (if only some members of a society have it, it’s a privilege, but see below). There are empirical arguments for guaranteeing some rights, insofar as it is demonstrated that such guarantees achieve a societal goal. Assuming that the goal is a peaceful and prosperous society which maximizes the health, happiness and longevity of its members (I admit that I have no better justification for that goal than that I’d like to live in such a society, most other people also seem to want such, and I don’t like associating with people who are opposed to those goals since they tend to be real assholes IME), then we can empirically say that e.g. guaranteeing some property rights empirically benefits the creation of such a society (as does denying some of the things that people have claimed as rights involving their property), so it’s a good thing when society guarantees those rights. On the other hand, we can empirically determine that guaranteeing the right to be armed to the teeth at all times actually decreases the peacefulness of a society; therefore, it’s not a good thing when a society guarantees that right.

  79. Michael Heath says

    mishcakes writes:

    I find the idea of rights, extending beyond one’s own physical person to be nonsensical.

    I’ve never encountered a compelling argument otherwise. That’s as long as you confine yourself to the discussion of negative rights rather than also considering positive rights. Wikipedia does an adequate job of distinguishing the difference.

    mishcakes writes:

    . . . it makes perfect sense to me for a person to have rights to his or her own body (anti-slavery, pro-choice), what he or she does with his or her own body (pro-marriage, pro-drugs being legal, pro-practice religion if you want to), how he or she is treated because of his or her body (pro-equality in the workforce, pro-ADA). And rights to decide/vote on rules/privileges governing ones life beyond that, rule/privileges not to infringe on the inalienable rights listed above.
    I think that owning things is on a case-by-case, state-by-state, country-by-country basis and should be called a rule or privilege.

    I can’t follow your logic in regards to how one can separate-out our right to own property from our other (negative) rights.

    mishcakes writes:

    For example, I own my house, but if my country, by vote, decided that it was now owned by the city and I would be paying the city rent instead of the bank a mortgage… well, I might be pissed, but I would also be able to vote to switch it back.

    The Constitution as its currently ratified concedes you have a protected right to property ownership and that the government has a constitutional obligation to defend the exercise of that right. I think its safe to assume a simple majority which deprives you and I of our right to own property in your example would not merely be deemed unconstitutional as you probably already know, but would also fail to meet the just governance standard we assert as a free society, i.e., that would be tyranny.

    We tend to see encroachments of government power against individual rights by a simple majority, legislative or by referendum, to be a violation of just governance, i.e., the tyranny of the majority. That’s why at the federal level and many state levels, the major infringement of rights requires super-majority consent.

    mishcakes writes:

    If my dwelling was suddenly city-owned, it would still be “mine” in the sense that any Joe on the street wouldn’t be able to come in and help himself to a beer and have a nap on the couch (exactly similar to renting a home from a landlord). Home ownership is not a right.

    You’re conflating property rights with occupancy rights. Your example has you enjoying government protection of your occupancy rights in both cases. I continue to be unable to follow your logical path you go through to end up declaring a right doesn’t exist. I can assure you I have a right to own property and am glad I live in a country which protects that right with relatively few limitations on the government’s protection of that right.

    mishcakes writes:

    For another example, wages. I earn a wage and my government has decided that I do not own about 20% of that wage, give or take. In other words, I do not have a right to all the money I earn, I have a rule that states I must give some of it up. The 80% of what I take home is a privilege of the country/state/city in which I live.

    You have a right to your earnings. We’ve delegated authority to the government to garnish some of our wages, that’s an effective infringement of our rights but a just one given that we’ve constitutionally delegated taxing powers to the government. At some arbitrary range a compelling argument could be made that the government is failing the just governance standard if tax rates are significantly high enough (they’re not even close to that now though this is a subjective argument as is the entire DofI just governance argument).

    mishcakes writes:

    Same with arms. I think that owning arms, certain types of arms, certain amounts of ammo, etc should all be a privilege. In a sense, the restrictions somewhat in place already give it the status of a privilege rather than a right, after all, I can’t go purchase a rocket launcher even though the 2nd Amendment might be interpreted to give me that “right”. But I see arms ownership the same way that I do car ownership, and am surprised that one is a right while one is a privilege.

    They are not different. Our right to own a car and drive it is consistent with our right to own a gun. In both cases the exercise of our right can be justly limited or even prohibited. For example, we may be prohibited from driving if we’ve had too many DUIs, where the justification would be the superior and competing rights of other travelers to be more safe and secure.

    And again, since our rights are effectively countless and beyond the ability to anyone to define, including government, you have a right to own a rocket launcher. However the government would go through the process I originally pointed out @ 47 where I’ll change your ‘rocket launcher scenario to a nuclear weapon since I’m not sure whether laws exist prohibiting rocket launchers:

    1) The government has an obligation to protect your rights to arms so this step should not deprive you of the protected exercise of that right.

    2) We’ve delegated sufficient authority to the government to prohibit your right to own and use a nuclear weapon.

    3) Challenges in court by others claiming their right to be safe is greater than your right to own and use a nuclear weapon would most assuredly result in a ruling of others rather than you.

  80. lancifer says

    Azkyroth,

    And you fucking DARE call others servile?

    Arguing the various hypothetical future scenarios of an armed citizen rebellion against a hypothetically tyrannical future US government is not interesting to me at the moment. Being forced to discuss it by your pathetic taunts would be servile.

    So suck it asshole.

  81. lancifer says

    Not that he needs my approval (or would even appreciate it), Michael Heath is doing an admiral job of explaining the concepts of “rights” as put forth by the framers of the constitution, that is the basis of our system of governance.

    I have been waiting for him to miss something, so I can interject, but he has yet to do so.

    I would emphasize his reference to the Wikipedia article explaining the differences between the idea of positive and negative rights. The people arguing with him would do well to investigate the differences before making ad hoc arguments that continue to miss the mark.

  82. lancifer says

    Michael Heath,

    I found Steven’s dissenting opinion in Heller to be a less than compelling “rear guard” action. He tossed aside the many documents supporting the majority opinion while crafting a plausible, but inaccurate, view of the prevailing sentiments, as expressed by their writings, of the framers.

    It is certainly possible to believe that the framers viewed both preventing ascendance of a tyrannical government and facilitating state militias to assist the federal government, in defense of the union against foreign powers, as non-exclusive interests.

  83. lancifer says

    Dalillama Schmott Guy, (henceforth DSG)

    Michael Heaths’ arguments about the US constitution, and our system of governance, are predicated on the idea of negative rights.

    Positive rights, such as the “right” to police protection, food, housing, public education, employment, national security, military, health care, social security, are not “inalienable’. They are a contract, between parties, that can be rescinded.

    You continue to miss this distinction in your arguments.

  84. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    I never argued from an evidentiary perspective while previously pointing out the impossibility of doing so. I.e., that no group can objectively determine what is a right and what is not a right. Nor could any group justly use their findings to infringe upon the rights of others. Instead I pointed out a least a couple of times that instead we can and actually do determine the role government must play in the just defense or infringement of our rights.

    Dalillama responds (1 of 3) :

    This is incoherent. If no one can objectively determine what is and is not a right, how can you determine when the rights of others have been infringed?

    Two approaches which I’ve already laid out. One is to assume rights are effectively limitless and therefore when the infringement of a right is challenged in court or considered by our legislative bodies, we don’t go down the rabbit hole of discovering whether a right exists or doesn’t, but instead whether government must, and I repeat myself ad nauseam: a) seek to discover whether the government has an obligation to defend that right, b) if it’s the government infringing on the right – scrutinize the law to see if sufficient delegated constitutional powers have been extended allowing such infringements, or lastly, c) consider the existence of competing rights of others and whose rights the government is obligated to defend at the expense of the other’s if a competing rights challenge exists.

    So, not incoherent; but instead a reading comprehension failure on your part since I’ve covered this already where your criticism doesn’t directly refute what I’ve reported here.

    Dalillama responds (2 of 3):

    This is incoherent. […] What rights do you mean and why?

    Again ad nauseam; because we can’t determine the existence of all rights, the government assumes the right exists and instead goes through the steps I point to above. Unfortunately the court also uses different standards of scrutiny, but that doesn’t change my argument. It instead only changes the level of scrutiny they apply to government power that infringes on our rights.

    I just skimmed through: the majority and dissent in Griswold v. Conneticut, the dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, majority in Loving v. Virginia, the majority in U.S. v. Wheeler and the majority in Morse v. Frederick (aka Bong Hits for Jesus). All these cases cover the infringement of unenumerated rights except Morse – respectively: the right to privacy, the right to homosexual relations, the right to marriage regardless of race, the right to travel, and student speech rights. I also picked these five opinions from these three rulings since they either: obligated the government to defend a particular right (Griswold, Loving majority, and Wheeler) or, two that argued that a right could be infringed upon in spite of its existence (the dissent in Lawrence and the majority in Bong Hits).

    In none of these cases did the opinion have the justices attempting to conjure up the existence of a right, or its non-existence; the assumption was instead that the right existed. That exercise would be an exercise in absurdity as I’ve repeatedly noted. Instead attention was directed on government’s role as I’ve also repeatedly asserted.

    In the Lawrence dissent J. Scalia whined that the majority failed to determine whether, “homosexual sodomy” is a fundamental right. But that was specifically raised because J. Scalia wanted a lesser level of scrutiny applied to the government’s defense of its laws in order to defend those laws. It was not an argument no such right exists since the court does defend what it determines are non-fundamental rights; it just uses a different level of scrutiny against the government.

    As Ed has repeatedly argued in this forum, the distinguishing of rights as fundamental or non-fundamental is flawed, especially because it has the court deffering to government power at the expense of the protection of rights. I strongly agree with Ed because I think the lower levels of scrutiny fail the just governance standard. We should always apply, “strict scrutiny”, which obligates the government to defend its laws rather than require the plaintiff to better argue the government has an obligation to defend the right being infringed upon. However even if I agreed with the three types of scrutiny now applied, my argument here remains the same.

    So, not incoherent.

    Dalillama responds (3 of 3):

    This is incoherent. […] Where do they come from other than legal guarantees and enforcement of same?

    You appear to continue to wrongly assume that if a right exists, the government is obligated to defend the exercise of that right. That is wildly wrong for several reasons, the most obvious being in the case of competing rights where the government defends one right at the expense of another. Government protection of one right in certain cases where the right is defended in others doesn’t make the right magically but temporarily disappear, it merely reveals that our rights are sometimes infringed upon, e.g., my right to my earnings doesn’t extend to being able to avoid paying taxes.

    Another example is the government is under no obligation to defend some of our rights. One of those examples was raised in the 1st Congress during debate on the Bill of Rights’ 9th Amendment. The wearing of a hat indoors by the master of the house is a right which is an example our rights are countless. While this right exists in spite of the fact we have no legal guarantees or enforcement mechanism to protect that right if say, our spouse demanded we not wear our hat in the house.

    The third example is Bong Hits for Jesus. The majority never argued students don’t enjoy speech rights, but instead that the government isn’t obligated to defend their right of speech within the context of this case.

    All three fail your framework quoted immediately above, but work perfectly within the framework the courts use as I’ve previously noted. So again, not incoherent.

    I’ll address the rest of your post in a subsequent comment post.

  85. Michael Heath says

    Dalillama writes:

    The distinction between negative and positive rights is entirely irrelevant to the question of where rights originate in the first place.

    I agree with your assertion when it comes to narrow confines of our dialogue. Distinguishing the two was relevant to what mishcake wrote which is why I raised it in my response to him/her but not in my responses to you.

  86. says

    lancifer,
    Did you read post 93? I am entirely familiar with the distinction that you’re making, it is simply not relevant.
    Wikipedia lists such negative rights as :

    such as freedom of speech, private property, freedom from violent crime, freedom of worship, habeas corpus, a fair trial, freedom from slavery.

    None of these rights exist in the absence of a government or other organ of society enforcing/gurarnteeing them. If there’s no government, you’ll get no trial but mob justice, anyone can do you violence, take away things you consider yours, and/or enslave you who decides they feel like it today and is bigger/better armed/has more friends than you do and there’s basically squat you can do about it. So, where does the ‘inalienable’ part come in? How is it meaningful to say that you have those rights in the abstract if they’re violated on a consistent and universal basis? Particularly, since you seem really focused on negative rights being innate, how is it meaningfully different to say “I have a right to health care (positive right), but the U.S. is violating that right because I don’t have it” vs. “Iranians have the right to free speech (negative right), but Iran is violating that right because they can’t speak freely?”

  87. lancifer says

    DSG and MH,

    The idea of positive vs negative rights is certainly relevant to the overall discussion. Positive rights can be traced to the charters of governments and other public organs, or enacting legislation legislation.

    Negative rights exist even if they are not understood or applicable at any instant in time, such as the right to transmit radio signals before radio was invented. The right to “transmit” existed before there were any “transmissions”. DSG is asserting that the government would have to grant you the right to transmit.

    Quoting Michael Heath explaing how the idea of rights “existing” is “coherent”,

    Two approaches which I’ve already laid out. One is to assume rights are effectively limitless and therefore when the infringement of a right is challenged in court or considered by our legislative bodies, we don’t go down the rabbit hole of discovering whether a right exists or doesn’t, but instead whether government must, and I repeat myself ad nauseam: a) seek to discover whether the government has an obligation to defend that right, b) if it’s the government infringing on the right – scrutinize the law to see if sufficient delegated constitutional powers have been extended allowing such infringements, or lastly, c) consider the existence of competing rights of others and whose rights the government is obligated to defend at the expense of the other’s if a competing rights challenge exists

    This defense only makes sense in the case of negative rights, since positive rights are delineated in writing, and these contracts can be appealed to for state defense of those rights.

  88. lancifer says

    DSG,

    Particularly, since you seem really focused on negative rights being innate, how is it meaningfully different to say “I have a right to health care (positive right), but the U.S. is violating that right because I don’t have it” vs. “Iranians have the right to free speech (negative right), but Iran is violating that right because they can’t speak freely?”

    The answer to your question is in the meaning of the words positive and negative.

    The right to health care requires the “positive” actions of others and is expressly granted in legislation or other agreements.

    The right to free speech exists unless someone takes “negative” action to restrict it. Thus the Bill of Rights does not grant the right of free speech but only points out that it exists and restrictions can only be placed on that right to protect the competing rights of others.

    That is why the word positive is necessary to make the argument that rights are “inalienable” or “innate”.

  89. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    neither you or anyone can determine what is and what is not a right.

    Dalillama responds:

    Then what are we even discussing? If no one can determine what is and is not a right, then no one can possibly come to any conlclusions about whether they’re being infringed, defended, or shoved into small tin cans like sardines. Are sardines rights? Who can tell? No one can determine what is or isn’t a right, after all.

    This is arguably a response in bad faith. Sardines are not rights because we’re discussing the actions of individuals and the government’s response to such actions. And as I’ve previously noted, all our actions are rights.

    Within the realm of past and current controversy, this approach works exceedingly well in spite of dealing with a subjective topic. At the margins it of course appears absurd, but the government reaction can and usually still works perfectly. An extreme example, we have a right to kill someone. That initially sounds absurd. But if we apply the three actions government takes it works flawlessly. Two cases:

    1) I kill someone simply because they annoy me. The three factors to consider:
    a) The government has no obligation to defend my right to kill someone in this case.
    b) We’ve delegated sufficient authority for the government to deprive me of other rights (freedom) because I killed someone.
    c) The right of my victim to life is vastly superior to my right to kill that person.

    2) Someone violently attacks someone in my presence, the attacker is using a knife and repeatedly stabbing them. I shoot and kill them.
    a) The government has an obligation to defend my right to kill someone in this case since I was attempting to defend the greater rights of the stabbing victim.
    b) The government has sufficient authority and an obligation to create laws which defends my right to kill in such cases.
    c) My right to kill the person with the knife, and the right of life by the stabbing victim, are vastly superior to the right of the stabbing victim’s right to life.

    So, not as absurd as it initially appears. Of course we don’t go through these steps in the lower courts since the constitutional questions and principles are well-established by way of statutory law. But those principles still apply and underly the laws which prohibits me from killing people merely because they annoy me and defend my right when I act to protect the life of an innocent victim.

  90. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    So we need to discard with the idea that any group can define the rights of others. It’s an impossible task.

    Dalillama responds:

    Nonsense. It’s done all the time, by every government everywhere. The Bill of Rights(English or U.S.), and the UDHR, consist of nothing but defining the rights of others, particularly the former two, as no one involved with writing them is alive anymore, so any rights which they define are defined for those other than the people who created them.

    Again with bad faith arguments. I never claimed governments don’t numerate some of our rights, in fact I referred to several documents that specifically do.

    I instead argued governments can’t numerate all our rights and therefore neither try to do so or use the identification of the existence of a right as their approach to rule on a controversy. So if I’m wrong, please provide a citation of a SCOTUS majority opinion whose precedent still holds which asserts a right doesn’t exist. That rather than the court using the approach I’ve repeatedly asserted: it’s obligation to defend a right (or not), the governments power to infringe upon the right, or ruling in favor of one person’s superior rights to the infringement of the other.

    I’ve provided several opinions and several other examples which support my framework to the detriment of your argument; it’s time to see what you have before I expend more of my time on your posts.

  91. lancifer says

    DSG,

    The idea of “entitlement” to positive rights is at the heart of the tension between those on different positions on the political coordinate system. (Right and left are oversimplifications.)

    The US constitution grants no positive rights. It only delineates what the framers considered the most important, and most abused, negative rights.

    I believe that you and M.H. are talking past each other due to this fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between negative and positive rights.

  92. Michael Heath says

    Re my “extreme example” @ 101:

    I need elaborate a bit. I was attempting to show that even in the extreme case of killing someone, the government will defend that right. I do concede as someone (Thomas Jefferson?) described, that my rights end at another’s nose (actually prior since assault is also against the law). So of course my rights don’t extend to actions against non-consenting others.

    So a right to kill will be protected in some cases, e.g., self-defense. But we shouldn’t encounter the government protecting the right by one to inflict harm on non-consenting others. And as previously noted, this is an extreme example where the model works very well within the parameters of past and current controversies whereas the idea that someone can determine the existence or non-existence of others fails not only at the margins, but also with past and current controversies. For example, “gays dont have a right to marry”, is absurd on its face.

  93. lancifer says

    Damn it!

    My last sentence in post #100 that reads,

    That is why the word positive is necessary to make the argument that rights are “inalienable” or “innate”.

    Should read, That is why the word negative is necessary to make the argument that rights are “inalienable” or ‘innate”.

    Apologies for the mistake and any confusion it may have caused.

  94. lancifer says

    I’m always ragging on my students for making a “sign” mistake and here I have done the same thing.

  95. says

    Michael Heath:
    1)I was under the impression that we were discussing a general framework of rights, not the specific workings and philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. government. Therefore, the rulings of the Supreme Court of the U.S. are largely irrelevant, as they do not even pretend to apply to anyone outside the U.S.

    2)I am aware of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution, and that these are, in theory at least, the basis for decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. That does not mean that they are either a)ontologically valid nor b) a good basis for decision making. The Iranian Supreme Court uses the Koran as the philosophical underpinning of their decisions; does that mean that the Koran is a useful guide to human rights?

    I am not impressed with philosophical maunderings about rights existing without any definition of them, and all that you have provided is a string of philosophical arguments which assume the independent existence of rights in the absence of some social definition and enforcement of them. None of your arguments have actually demonstrated this; indeed, you’ve said that it can’t be demonstrated. Things that cannot be demonstrated are faith claims, and not a fit basis for policy.

  96. dingojack says

    I think you’re kind of missing the point Michael is making:
    a) Governments don’t decide what ‘rights’ are, individuals do (either by themselves or collectively)
    b) If someone else thinks these ‘rights’ interfere with them they complain
    c) It goes to court and the court has to decide if it can justify supporting this ‘right’ or not
    d) The court case becomes a precedent for future actions….

    Rinse, repeat.

    Don’t reify rights.

    Dingo

  97. lancifer says

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    “Things that cannot be demonstrated are faith claims, and not a fit basis for policy.”

    Of course rights aren’t a material object. Were you expecting Heath to give you the molecular weight of a right? Rights are a concept that humans use as a construct to interact with each other on an equitable basis, similar to traffic rules.

    You could just as easily say that “right of way” doesn’t exist so it is “not a fit basis for policy”.

    Brute force certainly exists but I doubt many people will agree that it is a morally satisfactory basis for human interaction.

    Of course you could just as easily say that “morals” doesn’t exist. Other than sociopaths you won’t find many people willing to accept the limitations you are putting on the ideas that govern human interaction.

  98. mishcakes says

    My post was poorly thought out. Thanks to Michael Heath as always for his patience and thorough explanations. If I can be half the clear thinker and writer that he is one day, I will be proud.

  99. says

    dingojack

    Don’t reify rights.

    Michael’s the one arguing that case, not me. I’m the one who’s saying that rights are social constructs, which exist only in the same sense that laws (also social constructs) do.
    lancifer

    Rights are a concept that humans use as a construct to interact with each other on an equitable basis, similar to traffic rules.

    Veery goood. That’s the point I’ve been trying to make this whole damn time, while you and Michael insist that rights have some kind of cosmic manifestation separate from the society that defined them,

  100. lancifer says

    DSG,

    That’s the point I’ve been trying to make this whole damn time, while you and Michael insist that rights have some kind of cosmic manifestation separate from the society that defined them.

    Well OK, maybe I missed that. I skimmed through the already ongoing conversation that you and MH were having.

    The concept of rights embraced by the framers of the US constitution, and put forth by MH and me, is based on the idea that (at least negative) rights are not granted by collectives but are inherent to each person. This is of course not the only definition of “rights”. Although I think it is the best available at the moment as far as protecting individuals from the interests of groups.

    I assumed that you and Heath were having a discussion of the ideas that underpin the US system of constitutionally protected individual rights.

    IMHO, these ideas are the best thought out and practical definition of rights to date in the evolution of human interaction.

    I agree that the whole “given by a Creator” is bunk other than as a metaphor for insisting that these “rights” can not be usurped or abrogated by any collective group of other people. But without universal agreement on the “existence” of these rights individual liberty is at peril from what the Framers referred to as the “tyranny of the majority”.

  101. says

    lancifer
    The problem is that all of the arguments which have been offered presuppose the existence of rights independent of any society, and then arbitrarily declares what they are. After that, there’s all sorts of stuff about when they can be abrogated, which means that they’re not ‘inalienable’ even according to the philosophy that you’re supporting.

    insisting that these “rights” can not be usurped or abrogated by any collective group of other people

    But they self evidently fucking well can be usurped and abrogated by collective groups of other people, because it happens every fucking day. So where the fuck does this supposed property of being unabrogatable come from and what the fuck do you mean by it? The arguments that Michael presents and you endorse state repeatedly that these supposedly inalienable rights can be abrogated by the government if they determine that it’s needed (e.g. to defend the conflicting rights of others), so how do they meaningfully differ from non-inalienable rights, and how does one tell the difference?

  102. lancifer says

    DSG,

    But they self evidently fucking well can be usurped and abrogated by collective groups of other people, because it happens every fucking day. So where the fuck does this supposed property of being unabrogatable come from and what the fuck do you mean by it?

    What is meant by “inalienable” is that they can not be taken away. Even if they are “violated” they are still in effect. That we will fight, if necessary, to restore those rights and that no system that does not recognize those rights will be tolerated or supported.

    It has to do with the concept of “justice” which is also a slippery thing to explain.

    Beyond that you get into relativist arguments

  103. says

    lancifwr

    That we will fight, if necessary, to restore those rights and that no system that does not recognize those rights will be tolerated or supported.

    So, in other words, it is a proclamation of faith, which faith you will defend beyond the point of reason no matter the consequences. I rest my case.

  104. lancifer says

    Oh for Christ’s sake. That’s the best reply you can muster. Snap off some smug dismissal of a part of my earnestly crafted post and then declare victory? No counterpoint, no illumination, no supporting evidence?

    I expected better. What a waste of my time.

    Happy New Year.

  105. says

    How do you think I feel? I spent three days wading though the bullshit that you and Michael Heath spewed at me, and all you’ve got at the end is petitio principii. I mean, I didn’t expect anything better from you, but I’ve actually seen Michael construct valid argument based in reality before, I was wondering if he had another one.

  106. lancifer says

    DSG,

    How is explaining the idea behind human rights, as put forth by the framers of the US constitution, question begging? Are you claiming that there can be no objective definition of the word “rights” or are you asserting another allegedly superior definition?

    If it is the latter let’s hear it. If it is the former you are full of shit. There are no absolutes when it comes to the constructs of moral interaction. The system put in place by the US constitution places the rights of the individual as the fundamental concept of human interaction and then puts in place a democratic system to deal with competing rights, both of other individuals and the state.

    Do you also claim that the concept of justice can not be defined without appeals to petitio principii? If so then anything goes baby. I hope you are one well armed and funded mutha fucker because you are advocating that there is no logically discernible difference between killing someone and taking all of their stuff and participating in a system where even the weakest among us is protected by the concept of “rights”.

    As for not expecting any better from me? Go fuck yourself you petty little asswipe. I haven’t seen you lift even the simplest argument above your waist you fucking light weight.

    Let’s see if you can do better from here on.

  107. says

    As I said above, the only useful definition of rights which I’ve ever encountered is the freedoms or entitlements guaranteed by a society to every member thereof. Freedoms or entitlements guaranteed to only some members of a society are privileges. Rights, therefore, emanate entirely from a given society, and exist only in the context of that society.
     
    The question of what rights or privileges a society ought to grant is a separate one, and depends on what you consider the goal of society to be. For my part, I will quote myself at #89, because I don’t feel like retyping it and apparently you can’t be bothered to actually read the arguments I’ve advanced already before jumping in.

    There are empirical arguments for guaranteeing some rights, insofar as it is demonstrated that such guarantees achieve a societal goal. Assuming that the goal is a peaceful and prosperous society which maximizes the health, happiness and longevity of its members (I admit that I have no better justification for that goal than that I’d like to live in such a society, most other people also seem to want such, and I don’t like associating with people who are opposed to those goals since they tend to be real assholes IME), then we can empirically say that e.g. guaranteeing some property rights empirically benefits the creation of such a society (as does denying some of the things that people have claimed as rights involving their property), so it’s a good thing when society guarantees those rights. On the other hand, we can empirically determine that guaranteeing the right to be armed to the teeth at all times actually decreases the peacefulness of a society; therefore, it’s not a good thing when a society guarantees that right.

  108. lancifer says

    Your definition of “rights” is indistinguishable from your definition of “privileges”. Thus obviating the need for the word, or concept, of rights.

    By your definition, of rights and privileges, if there are three people on an island two of them can say that there is no right to not be eaten by the other two and those two can grant themselves the right to proceed to eat the third.

    This is indistinguishable from a system of “might makes right” and requires neither the words rights or privileges.

    At that point you are engaged in a semantic exercise justifying tyranny.

    Perhaps you also think that the concept of tyranny can only be supported by petitio principii as well.

  109. dingojack says

    So if societies decide who has rights or not, then if one society (say the US) decide that another (say Mexico) had no rights then invasion would be perfectly justifiable, any kind of war crime would be just fine, because it’s all about societies deciding, right?
    If the UN Declaration of Human Rights says it’s a right and the UN represents a majority of the human population then it must be a right, the majority has spoken.*
    ‘Might makes right’ idiocy, how surprising.
    Dingo
    ——-
    * I don’t think the UN has ratified a version of the 2nd amendment, guess Americans aren’t permitted to carry guns anymore.

  110. says

    Your definition of “rights” is indistinguishable from your definition of “privileges”. Thus obviating the need for the word, or concept, of rights.

    You apparently cannot read if you cannot see the difference between the idea of some members of a society and all members of a society.

    By your definition, of rights and privileges, if there are three people on an island two of them can say that there is no right to not be eaten by the other two and those two can grant themselves the right to proceed to eat the third.

    In what meaningful sense do three people on an uninhabitable island constitute a society? This constant recourse of libertarians to the ‘man/men alone on a deserted island’ is deeply annoying, as it does not represent the starting point of any human in all of history. Castaways in deserted and uninhabitable places, in fact, presuppose a society which developed the technology needed for them to have got there in the first place, which society has a system of rights and privileges already in place. In practice, many societies do, in fact have standard usages pertaining to such a situation, and it may be that according to those usages one or more of the castaways will be killed for the benefit of the others. The question of whose rights or privileges were violated is not one that comes up except in the context of those usages, and is usually not fully settled until such time as the survivors are reunited with some society, be it their own or another one.

    This is indistinguishable from a system of “might makes right” and requires neither the words rights or privileges.

    Might makes right is certainly one way in which rights and privileges can be apportioned, but such societies tend to score quite poorly on the measures I mention above, and it is therefore a suboptimal mode. Democratic forms of government are more usually based on some variant of ‘Mutual coercion mutually agreed upon,’ although as far as I know that specific phrase was coined by Garrett Hardin in The Tragedy of the Commons

    Perhaps you also think that the concept of tyranny can only be supported by petitio principii as well.

    Lets see.. Tyranny: arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power. Nope, that concept seems to be a pretty definable one, and doesn’t invoke any magical concepts.

  111. lancifer says

    DJ,

    So if rights come from ‘society’, then who or what is ‘society’?

    Whatever DSG decides it to be, since he is after all a “society” of one and is therefor justified to take any action that he decides is a “right” or a “privilege”. No one can call his actions immoral or even “bad” because there are no such thing as “rights” independent of the judgments of societies.

    Before DSG’s latest irrational romp I said,

    Beyond that you get into relativist arguments.

    That is where DSG’s arguments lead whether he acknowledges it or not.

  112. says

    Dingojack

    So if societies decide who has rights or not, then if one society (say the US) decide that another (say Mexico) had no rights then invasion would be perfectly justifiable

    Happens all the time. Less so now than in the past, though,

    any kind of war crime would be just fine, because it’s all about societies deciding, right?

    A definition isn’t the same thing as a justification. I’ve said repeatedly that societies that do those things produce negative outcomes and fail to advance human health, happiness and prosperity (which, as I’ve stated twice now, are insofar as I’m concerned the only ethically justifiable goals for a society to pursue). That doesn’t mean that people don’t do it and consider themselves to be acting according to their rights and privileges, though.

    If the UN Declaration of Human Rights says it’s a right and the UN represents a majority of the human population then it must be a right, the majority has spoken.*

    Actually, the UN doesn’t really constitute a society in any meaningful sense either(see below). It might achieve such a status in the future, but it hasn’t yet. That said, almost all of the rights in that declaration do demonstrably improve human health, happiness, and prosperity where they are guaranteed, so I’m in favor of societies guaranteeing them.

    So if rights come from ‘society’, then who or what is ‘society’?

    Wikipedia provides a a workable definition:

    A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.

    Really, though, I hadn’t expected that ‘no such thing as society’ bullshit from you, dingo. This thread has been a real disappointment for me.

  113. lancifer says

    DSG,

    You don’t get to arbitrarily decide what a “right” or a “society” are. These words have definitions, even if you don’t like them.

    By your definition the totalitarian governments of the 20th century, that murdered millions of people, were indistinguishable from systems of governance that are based on the rights of the individual.

    The question of whose rights or privileges were violated is not one that comes up except in the context of those usages, and is usually not fully settled until such time as the survivors are reunited with some society, be it their own or another one.

    This is relativistic horseshit of the type I have no interest in debating. If you think that the people who were murdered, or rotting in labor camps or watched their relatives be murdered were not having their “rights” violated unless and until some later time when a different “society” judged their actions you are either an idiot or a sociopath.

  114. says

    You don’t get to arbitrarily decide what a “right” or a “society” are. These words have definitions, even if you don’t like them.

    Yes, they do have definitions, dipshit. I quoted the definition of society in my previous post. Here’s rights:

    Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory..

    By your definition the totalitarian governments of the 20th century, that murdered millions of people, were indistinguishable from systems of governance that are based on the rights of the individual.

    Hmm, let’s see; did the totalitarians act in a way that increased the health, happiness, and prosperity of their members? I’m going to have to say that no, they did not. Did the liberal democracies do so? What an amazing thing: They did! I’d say that’s a pretty major distinction, even if you can’t see it.

    If you think that the people who were murdered, or rotting in labor camps or watched their relatives be murdered were not having their “rights” violated unless and until some later time when a different “society” judged their actions you are either an idiot or a sociopath

    Were those massacres stunningly immoral by my own principles? Yes, they were. Were the unjustifiable by any reasonable ethical code? Sure enough. Were the contraindicated for any society that wished to remain peaceful and prosperous? Absolutely. Were they against the “fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people” according to the legal systems, social conventions, or ethical theories dominant in the societies that perpetrated them? They were not.

  115. dingojack says

    No the ‘no such thing as society’ shtick is all yours. Perhaps you should re-read your own posts*.

    So nations have no persistent relations with each other? Where do you think all those imported goods come from? The god ‘cargo’?
    So the Earth’s surface is an imaginary ‘geographical territory’ is it? What, prey tell, are you resting on?
    What do you think the UN’s treaties are for if not to share ‘common (human) cultural assumptions’?

    You still haven’t answered the question:
    If rights come from society who or what is society?

    Dingo
    ——-
    * if you can stomach it

  116. says

    dingojack
    Are you asserting that nations or governments are persons? If they’re not, then no, relations between them do not constitute a society.

    What do you think the UN’s treaties are for if not to share ‘common (human) cultural assumptions’?

    To try to define them, of course. It has had limited success so far, as evidenced by the fact that many societies still have a lot cultural assumptions and legal practices that directly contravene the various U.N. declarations.

  117. says

    Sorry, posted too soon.

    If rights come from society who or what is society?

    Try following the link I gave the last time you asked that. Read it very carefully. Then look into the references provided at the bottom of the page. Then stop asking deliberately obtuse questions.

  118. lancifer says

    DSG,

    Either make a relativistic argument or don’t. Saying things like…

    Hmm, let’s see; did the totalitarians act in a way that increased the health, happiness, and prosperity of their members? I’m going to have to say that no, they did not. Did the liberal democracies do so? What an amazing thing: They did!

    …is incoherent. Which members? Murdering some minority of a society to give advantage to the majority was clearly materially favorable to the majority so by that standard these societies “increased the health, happiness, and prosperity of their members”. Unless you are claiming that ‘liberal democracies” have benefited all of their members.

    Also, you are talking out both sides of your mouth because “liberal democracies” are almost universally based on the idea of individual human rights.

  119. says

    lancifer

    Which members? Murdering some minority of a society to give advantage to the majority was clearly materially favorable to the majority so by that standard these societies “increased the health, happiness, and prosperity of their members”. Unless you are claiming that ‘liberal democracies” have benefited all of their members

    Unquestioanbly they’ve benefitted a larger proportion of their members that the totalitarian regimes, what with not killing them off by the truckload and all. There’s a pretty good argument to be made that they benefitted everybody more, in fact. The rich in the U.S. an Europe live a lot better than even the highest ranking Soviet Commissars, and did throughout the 20th century, not to mention that reductions in morbidity and longevity have occurred across the board in those countries; the degree of benefit varies, but statistically speaking, everyone lives longer and healthier lives in Western Europe than in Russia, then or now.

    Also, you are talking out both sides of your mouth because “liberal democracies” are almost universally based on the idea of individual human rights.

    Yes, they are. I’ve been saying all along that guaranteeing some rights materially improves the conditions of a society. The liberal democracies do this, and it benefits them. I feel I should note at this point that very few liberal democracies include the right to bear arms among the rights they guarantee. However, you and Michael Heath have both included that one as a fundamental, inalienable, magical whatever right, the lack of which is a sign of tyranny. So tell me, is Sweden a tyranny? How about Germany? France?Japan? None of them recognize any kind of right to bear arms. Also, why the scarequotes? The meaning of the term liberal democracy is well established and it’s a standard term in political science.

  120. lancifer says

    You can’t use liberal democracy as an example of societies that grant rights when they are established on the idea that rights are inherent.

    Also you are drifting between relativistic and utilitarian arguments. I am not making an ontological argument that rights can be demonstrated to exist outside of a given framework. I am making the argument that a framework that is based on inherent rights is ethically and practically superior to ones that do not.

    I make no claims that rights are “magical” or extant outside of this framework. I do make the claim that individual liberty is best protected in this type of system, and systems that allow groups to decide the rights of its members are no better than systems run by omnipotent despots that can range from benevolent to oppressive.

  121. lancifer says

    Ack! I made a hash of that last post.

    I’m too tire to continue this argument tonight. I’ll try to do some more reading on the subject and continue the discussion in the morning.

  122. says

    You can’t use liberal democracy as an example of societies that grant rights when they are established on the idea that rights are inherent.

    I certainly can; regardless of the reasons they chose those rights to grant, practically speaking the rights in question exist only because and to the extent that they are enforced. That is to say, the rights exist because the governments enforce/guarantee them. The governments do this because enough of the people electing them agree it’s a good plan. They might agree on this because of the principles of Enlightenment philosophy, they might agree because they think their god wants it that way, or they might agree because they want those freedoms themselves and the best way to get them is to get everyone else to go along with you, but in the end, the rights exist because enough people agree that they should, and for no other reason.

    Also you are drifting between relativistic and utilitarian arguments.

    I’m not sure how you’re getting that. I would consider all of my arguments to be utilitarian ones.

    I am making the argument that a framework that is based on inherent rights is ethically and practically superior to ones that do not.

    I’m not certain why you’re so committed to the idea that rights are in any way inherent; that’s really our bone of contention. Indeed, your conception of inherent rights is demonstrably practically inferior to some others. As, for instance, in the cases of guns and healthcare. Specifically, countries that don’t guarantee the right to pack heat have a lot fewer shootings, and countries that do guarantee a right to healthcare have better health outcomes, longer average lifespans, and a competitive advantage for their businesses, who aren’t burdened with the expenses incurred by the U.S. system.

    systems that allow groups to decide the rights of its members

    All systems do this; in the U.S. system, that group was the Founders, and later the various legislatures and plebiscites which have amended the Constitution since then.

  123. says

    Tell that to the Libyan people and the citizen militia currently attempting to oust the Assad government in Syria.

    What, the Second Amendment covered Libya and Syria?

    Besides, the armed rebellions we’re seeing in those countries are not resulting in well-ordered liberty, they’re resulting in chaos, privation, mass-murders, and a total breakdown of every facet of civil society.

    And when did armed civilians ever advance anyone’s freedom? Slavery was abolished by peaceful political action, followed by MILITARY action; and practically all of the subsequent advances in individual rights were secured by non-violent resistance — AGAINST the armed citizenry.

    Your fetishization of guns is downright infantile.

  124. says

    …systems that allow groups to decide the rights of its members are no better than systems run by omnipotent despots that can range from benevolent to oppressive.

    Can you name even ONE government, at any point in human history, that wasn’t in one or the other of those categories? Certainly not the USA, where our basic rights are guaranteed by groups deciding to ratify the Bill of Rights.

    Seriously, boy, I can tell it’s past your bedtime — you can’t distinguish reality from dreams.

  125. says

    …the second amendment is the law in the US and was put there to ensure an individual right to bear arms.

    And like every other delusional racist gun-nut I’ve seen on the Internet, Lance completely ignores the first half of the amendment he pretends to revere. Here’s a little hint, boy: the second amendment also mentions “a well-regulated Militia” and “the security of a free State.” In fact, it mentions those things FIRST, and and the right to bear arms SECOND. If you’re going to pompously bang on and on about “the law,” then you’d better know the whole law, not just the bits you like.

  126. Stu says

    The funniest thing to me is that people think that if they have assault rifles, they would stand a chance (as a well-regulated militia) against the full force of a modern army, should the government decide to turn it on its own citizens.

    Good luck hitting that Predator drone with your AR-15. Also, I’m sure the people in that M1A2 are very, very afraid of your 30-round 5.56mm clip.

    Sigh.

  127. says

    The funniest thing to me is that people think that if they have assault rifles, they would stand a chance (as a well-regulated militia) against the full force of a modern army…

    It’s not the US Army they’re “defending” themselves against; it’s uppity minorities, atheists, bureaucrats, nosey cops, and other people who represent (in their minds at least) a threat to the reality they know. And it always has been, all the way back to the KKK days, whatever they may say in public.

  128. Stu says

    Oh, I agree RB; but that kind of invalidates the rationale and 2nd amendment justification for them having the weapons in the first place…

  129. says

    Let’s be fair here; I think that our ‘well regulated milita’ (the National Guard) could probably make a pretty good showing against quite a few of the professional armies in the world right now (although not the full force of the U.S. army, which is absurdly huge). Of course, the Guard has rocket launchers, grenades, armored vehicles, and air support, unlike the ‘militias’ that the gun nuts like to organize. Also, if the dipshits ever did start something, the Guard would probably be called in to suppress them before the Army would.

  130. Stu says

    Oh sure, National Guard vs others would be much more interesting.

    For about 4 hours.

    Scramble B2s from Whitman, JDAMs for every NG unit, and…

    Well…

  131. says

    I was counting the Air Guard in with the National Guard, they might have something to say about the B-2s. :) Seriously, though, that kind of thing is why I specifically exempted the U.S. army. I bet the Guard would make a decent showing against, say the Russian armed forces, though.

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