Hold Fast to 36 Words

 

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.

Thirty-six words that lie at the foundation of American life.

This is a dream. It’s a great dream.

“The first saying we notice in this dream is an amazing universalism. It doesn’t say, ‘some men’; it says ‘all men.’ It doesn’t say ‘all white men’; it says ‘all men,’ which includes black men. It does not say ‘all Gentiles’; it says ‘all men,’ which includes Jews. It doesn’t say ‘all Protestants’; it says ‘all men,’ which includes Catholics. It doesn’t even say ‘all theists and believers’; it says ‘all men,’ which includes humanists and agnostics.”

“Never before in the history of the world has a sociopolitical document expressed in such profound, eloquent and unequivocal language the dignity and the worth of human personality. The American dream reminds us—and we should think about it anew on this Independence Day—that every man is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.”

 

 

The quote above is by Martin Luther King, delivered in a sermon on July 4, 1965, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. The words of the Declaration are a dream. Reality intrudes and, short of G-d’s justice, there is no assured equality of life, liberty, and happiness. It is only a statement of why our government was “constituted amongst men” in the form it was, with the limits expressed. Individual and personal freedom, liberty, and independence are the touchstones of the American dream. With it, everything else is possible. Without it, nothing is possible.

It is a dream that has animated America and called forth self-sacrifice for its preservation. But a new dream intrudes: That all men are either oppressors or oppressed; that there are privileges, not rights; that there is license, and not liberty; that there is identity, not individuality. Self-sacrifice is not called upon to support this dream. Instead, it is supported by assigned sacrifice — the selection by the State of whose sacrifice is to be demanded.

It has ever been the conception of Progressives that a society be perfected, and not individuals; that individuals be pruned or weeded to promote the perfection of that society. In that conception individuals must be subservient to society, not merely included or excluded based on personal conduct. Such conception is of necessity hierarchical, externally organized, and controlled. It is not organic; it must be molded, pounded, sanded, and buffed.

Thirty-six words, and a resolute commitment thereto, are all that stands between you and slavery. Hold fast to these words.

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Rodin: It is a dream that has animated America and called forth self-sacrifice for it preservation. But a new dream intrudes: That all men are either oppressors or oppressed; that there are privileges, not rights; that there is license, and not liberty; that there is identity, not individuality. Self-sacrifice is not called upon to support this dream. Instead it is supported by assigned sacrifice — the selection by the State of whose sacrifice is to be demanded.

    Well put.  The only true privilege these days is leftist privilege . . .

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I have always linked those 36 words in my mind and heart as an equal part of documenting the American founding as the Constitution itself.

    • #2
  3. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I have always linked those 36 words in my mind and heart as an equal part of documenting the American founding as the Constitution itself.

    Yes, I hold the Declaration as one of two founding documents, and consider it binding upon law.  Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Progressives would be so offended to know how elitist they are. They live to impose their superiority on others, to intimidate them, cow them, and make them subordinate to their offensive and oppressive ideas. The question is whether we are strong enough to fight back to maintain the country we love.

    • #4
  5. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    The question is whether we are strong enough to fight back to maintain the country we love.

    We are. But will we be the current generation? It is like the dilemma presented to Britain and France in the 193os. Germany could have been defeated with a lot less bloodshed than it eventually took. But they waited too long. If we can’t or won’t defeat them now, they will be defeated later when the rot demands it. But it will be horrible. 

    • #5
  6. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Thank you for an eloquent post.

    I love the fact that Ben Franklin is responsible for “life, liberty and property” changing into the Purfoot of Happineffs. Ben was a master of words and how to apply them precisely.

    He’s also proof of my favorite aphorism: never underestimate an old fat guy. Another admirable OFG, William Howard Taft, has a great quote that is relevant to this discussion. “No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.”

     

    • #6
  7. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Thank you for an eloquent post.

    I love the fact that Ben Franklin is responsible for “life, liberty and property” changing into the Purfoot of Happineffs. Ben was a master of words and how to apply them precisely.

    He’s also proof of my favorite aphorism: never underestimate an old fat guy. Another admirable OFG, William Howard Taft, has a great quote that is relevant to this discussion. “No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.”

     

    The question involves these stated rights, which may include implicit rights.  (The stated rights are not assumed to be logically independent: one of them may imply all or part of another one)

    1. The right to life
    2. The right to liberty
    3. The right to property
    4. The right to the pursuit of happiness

    By his counterproposal, Franklin implicitly asserts that

    • affirming 1, 2, and 4 is necessary AND sufficient
      AND
    • affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient OR not completely necessary

    My first question is, “Which did Franklin believe?”

    1. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient
      OR
    2. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is not completely necessary?
    • #7
  8. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Thank you for an eloquent post.

    I love the fact that Ben Franklin is responsible for “life, liberty and property” changing into the Purfoot of Happineffs. Ben was a master of words and how to apply them precisely.

    He’s also proof of my favorite aphorism: never underestimate an old fat guy. Another admirable OFG, William Howard Taft, has a great quote that is relevant to this discussion. “No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.”

     

    The question involves these stated rights, which may include implicit rights. (The stated rights are not assumed to be logically independent: one of them may imply all or part of another one)

    1. The right to life
    2. The right to liberty
    3. The right to property
    4. The right to the pursuit of happiness

    By his counterproposal, Franklin implicitly asserts that

    • affirming 1, 2, and 4 is necessary AND sufficient
      AND
    • affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient OR not completely necessary

    My first question is, “Which did Franklin believe?”

    1. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient
      OR
    2. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is not completely necessary?

    Isn’t is possible that Pursuit was a poor substitute for Property but Property had to be eliminated (despite being the right word) because of political and philosophical arguments against it?  That’s what I read.

    • #8
  9. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Thank you for an eloquent post.

    I love the fact that Ben Franklin is responsible for “life, liberty and property” changing into the Purfoot of Happineffs. Ben was a master of words and how to apply them precisely.

    He’s also proof of my favorite aphorism: never underestimate an old fat guy. Another admirable OFG, William Howard Taft, has a great quote that is relevant to this discussion. “No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.”

     

    The question involves these stated rights, which may include implicit rights. (The stated rights are not assumed to be logically independent: one of them may imply all or part of another one)

    1. The right to life
    2. The right to liberty
    3. The right to property
    4. The right to the pursuit of happiness

    By his counterproposal, Franklin implicitly asserts that

    • affirming 1, 2, and 4 is necessary AND sufficient
      AND
    • affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient OR not completely necessary

    My first question is, “Which did Franklin believe?”

    1. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient
      OR
    2. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is not completely necessary?

    Isn’t is possible that Pursuit was a poor substitute for Property but Property had to be eliminated (despite being the right word) because of political and philosophical arguments against it? That’s what I read.

    It is possible that the reason for his counterproposal was one of these two things

    • 1, 2, and 3 were too controversial, and 1, 2, and 4, though different in substance, would be an acceptable political compromise even though he believed they were flawed
      OR
    • He merely thought that the wording of 1, 2, and 3 was impolitic, and that the wording of 1, 2, and 4 expressed the same substance in a more acceptable way. 

    If I understand you correctly, that’s what you are saying.

    • #9
  10. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    The question involves these stated rights, which may include implicit rights.  (The stated rights are not assumed to be logically independent: one of them may imply all or part of another one)

    1. The right to life
    2. The right to liberty
    3. The right to property
    4. The right to the pursuit of happiness

    By his counterproposal, Franklin implicitly asserts that

    • affirming 1, 2, and 4 is necessary AND sufficient
      AND
    • affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient OR not completely necessary

    My first question is, “Which did Franklin believe?”

    1. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient
      OR
    2. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is not completely necessary?

     

     

    Life, liberty and property was the original idea.  However “property” was problematic because slaves were property and slavery was abhorrent.  That necessitated the substitution of “pursuit of happiness”.   The idea of “happiness” is a concept of Francis Hutcheson (Scottish philosopher) and involves the active fulfillment of God’s purpose for oneself.  Happiness is state of using one’s gifts to create prosperity for the community.  It is act of giving.   The Scottish enlightenment also gave us a formalization of separation of powers in branches of government.  Madison was Scottish educated.   To answer the question 1,2,3 are all codependent and support #4. 

    • #10
  11. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    The question involves these stated rights, which may include implicit rights. (The stated rights are not assumed to be logically independent: one of them may imply all or part of another one)

    1. The right to life
    2. The right to liberty
    3. The right to property
    4. The right to the pursuit of happiness

    By his counterproposal, Franklin implicitly asserts that

    • affirming 1, 2, and 4 is necessary AND sufficient
      AND
    • affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient OR not completely necessary

    My first question is, “Which did Franklin believe?”

    1. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is insufficient
      OR
    2. Affirming 1, 2, and 3 is not completely necessary?

     

     

    Life, liberty and property was the original idea. However “property” was problematic because slaves were property and slavery was abhorrent. That necessitated the substitution of “pursuit of happiness”. The idea of “happiness” is a concept of Francis Hutcheson (Scottish philosopher) and involves the active fulfillment of God’s purpose for oneself. Happiness is state of using one’s gifts to create prosperity for the community. It is act of giving. The Scottish enlightenment also gave us a formalization of separation of powers in branches of government. Madison was Scottish educated. To answer the question 1,2,3 are all codependent and support #4.

    Hold on, hold on.   Ricochet says this Comment is from DonG.  Is this a bug or something?  Isn’t it from @Saint Augustine?

    Anyway, it looks as though you know your stuff, and have probably answered my question, as soon as I’ve set aside a few minutes of my peak-thinking time to read it carefully.  Thanks, whoever you are.    ;-)

    • #11
  12. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    The Progressives would be so offended to know how elitist they are. They live to impose their superiority on others, to intimidate them, cow them, and make them subordinate to their offensive and oppressive ideas. The question is whether we are strong enough to fight back to maintain the country we love.

    Actually, I think they are offended by the idea that we would assume to be their equal.

     

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Actually, I think they are offended by the idea that we would assume to be their equal.

     

    I guess it’s a good thing that we don’t care what they think!

    • #13
  14. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    “Pursuit”. Not a right to happiness or property, just the pursuit.

    The subtext is “Good Luck, boy.”

    • #14
  15. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    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.

    This must be one of the most well-crafted sentences ever written. It is as simple and elegant as it is profound and evocative.

    But I can never read it without the words “among these” snagging on my brain a bit. It always makes me wonder what the other, unlisted unalienable rights are. Is there a full list somewhere? If not, how do we determine what they are and, importantly, who gets to determine what they are. Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to improve upon the declaration as set forth, and yet… there is just enough wiggle room in the words “among these” to open the door to all types of mischief.

     

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Freeven (View Comment):

    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.

    This must be one of the most well-crafted sentences ever written. It is as simple and elegant as it is profound and evocative.

    But I can never read it without the words “among these” snagging on my brain a bit. It always makes me wonder what the other, unlisted unalienable rights are. Is there a full list somewhere? If not, how do we determine what they are and, importantly, who gets to determine what they are. Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to improve upon the declaration as set forth, and yet… there is just enough wiggle room in the words “among these” to open the door to all types of mischief.

    I wonder if they didn’t try to list all of them because dissension would arise about which were legitimate and which were not, what was left out, what should have been included. Maybe they just wanted us to contemplate what those listed meant to us: what does it mean that we have a right to life, and how does that play out in our lives? What does it mean to pursue liberty, why is it important, why would we want to be sure that it is a right that is protected. And finally, the pursuit of happiness–each of us gets to decide what that means to us, and it will likely be unique, special and personal. In fact, I wonder if we pursue those three, would we find that other unalienable rights we pursue are integral to these three? Just rambling. . .

    • #16
  17. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

     

    “right to privacy” The right to “be left alone,” or to be free of government scrutiny into one’s private beliefs and behavior. Abortion is harmful to another life. Is there a question regarding the validity of this assertion?  

    The “right to privacy” is just an alternate way to express guaranteed individual liberty but that does not include a right for an individual to harm another innocent party.

    • #17
  18. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    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.

    This must be one of the most well-crafted sentences ever written. It is as simple and elegant as it is profound and evocative.

    But I can never read it without the words “among these” snagging on my brain a bit. It always makes me wonder what the other, unlisted unalienable rights are. Is there a full list somewhere? If not, how do we determine what they are and, importantly, who gets to determine what they are. Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to improve upon the declaration as set forth, and yet… there is just enough wiggle room in the words “among these” to open the door to all types of mischief.

    I wonder if they didn’t try to list all of them because dissension would arise about which were legitimate and which were not, what was left out, what should have been included. Maybe they just wanted us to contemplate what those listed meant to us: what does it mean that we have a right to life, and how does that play out in our lives? What does it mean to pursue liberty, why is it important, why would we want to be sure that it is a right that is protected. And finally, the pursuit of happiness–each of us gets to decide what that means to us, and it will likely be unique, special and personal. In fact, I wonder if we pursue those three, would we find that other unalienable rights we pursue are integral to these three? Just rambling. . .

    “Among these” sets forth an important principle: The burden is on government to demonstrate that an action it is taking does not impinge on an unalienable right, listed or not. The Roe v Wade reference I think is misapplied in the comment. The problem with Roe is not that there is no unalienable right to privacy, but that there is tension in an unwanted pregnancy between the unalienable rights of the mother to that of the incipient rights of the unborn. Each state was balancing these interests in their own way consistent with their understanding of their respect constitutions approved by their citizens and through laws adopted by those citizens’ representatives. The Supreme Court decided to federalize that balancing. One of the unalienable rights may be that citizens have a right to control their governments in the most local way possible. When a question is federalized it removes it from more localized control.

    • #18
  19. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    The idea of “happiness” is a concept of Francis Hutcheson (Scottish philosopher) and involves the active fulfillment of God’s purpose for oneself.  Happiness is state of using one’s gifts to create prosperity for the community.  It is act of giving.   The Scottish enlightenment also gave us a formalization of separation of powers in branches of government.  Madison was Scottish educated.  

    Thanks, this is informative and helpful.

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    Life, liberty and property was the original idea.  However “property” was problematic because slaves were property and slavery was abhorrent.  That necessitated the substitution of “pursuit of happiness”.

    Thanks for this info also.  Does Franklin believe in the right of all men to their rightful property, with the understanding that not every claim to property is rightful?

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Django (View Comment):

    “Pursuit”. Not a right to happiness or property, just the pursuit.

    The subtext is “Good Luck, boy.”

    That’s why I capitalized Pursuit and not happiness.

    Pursuit: driving a large-engined car with open windows at high speeds along a deserted Arizona highway or a high Rocky Mountain pass for the pure happiness of it.

    • #20
  21. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Jonah Goldberg made a comment that I love, I think it was in Liberal Fascism, that many Americans seem to have decided that pursuing happiness isn’t enough. They want it delivered.

    • #21
  22. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Freeven (View Comment):

    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.

    This must be one of the most well-crafted sentences ever written. It is as simple and elegant as it is profound and evocative.

    But I can never read it without the words “among these” snagging on my brain a bit. It always makes me wonder what the other, unlisted unalienable rights are. Is there a full list somewhere? If not, how do we determine what they are and, importantly, who gets to determine what they are. Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to improve upon the declaration as set forth, and yet… there is just enough wiggle room in the words “among these” to open the door to all types of mischief.

    I think the right to privacy is akin to the right not to have unwanted foreign substances forcibly injected in one’s body by the state under threat of the loss of the right to free movement.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    This must be one of the most well-crafted sentences ever written. It is as simple and elegant as it is profound and evocative.

    But I can never read it without the words “among these” snagging on my brain a bit. It always makes me wonder what the other, unlisted unalienable rights are. Is there a full list somewhere? If not, how do we determine what they are and, importantly, who gets to determine what they are. Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to improve upon the declaration as set forth, and yet… there is just enough wiggle room in the words “among these” to open the door to all types of mischief.

    I wonder if they didn’t try to list all of them because dissension would arise about which were legitimate and which were not, what was left out, what should have been included. Maybe they just wanted us to contemplate what those listed meant to us: what does it mean that we have a right to life, and how does that play out in our lives? What does it mean to pursue liberty, why is it important, why would we want to be sure that it is a right that is protected. And finally, the pursuit of happiness–each of us gets to decide what that means to us, and it will likely be unique, special and personal. In fact, I wonder if we pursue those three, would we find that other unalienable rights we pursue are integral to these three? Just rambling. . .

    “Among these” sets forth an important principle: The burden is on government to demonstrate that an action it is taking does not impinge on an unalienable right, listed or not. The Roe v Wade reference I think is misapplied in the comment. The problem with Roe is not that there is no unalienable right to privacy, but that there is tension in an unwanted pregnancy between the unalienable rights of the mother to that of the incipient rights of the unborn. Each state was balancing these interests in their own way consistent with their understanding of their respect constitutions approved by their citizens and through laws adopted by those citizens’ representatives. The Supreme Court decided to federalize that balancing. One of the unalienable rights may be that citizens have a right to control their governments in the most local way possible. When a question is federalized it removes it from more localized control.

    The right to Life is a private right that applies to the living, in the womb or otherwise.  But the “unwanted pregnancy” conundrum stems from ignoring that the vast majority of pregnancies are freely entered into.

    • #23
  24. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Flicker (View Comment):

    “Among these” sets forth an important principle: The burden is on government to demonstrate that an action it is taking does not impinge on an unalienable right, listed or not. The Roe v Wade reference I think is misapplied in the comment. The problem with Roe is not that there is no unalienable right to privacy, but that there is tension in an unwanted pregnancy between the unalienable rights of the mother to that of the incipient rights of the unborn. Each state was balancing these interests in their own way consistent with their understanding of their respect constitutions approved by their citizens and through laws adopted by those citizens’ representatives. The Supreme Court decided to federalize that balancing. One of the unalienable rights may be that citizens have a right to control their governments in the most local way possible. When a question is federalized it removes it from more localized control.

    The right to Life is a private right that applies to the living, in the womb or otherwise.  But the “unwanted pregnancy” conundrum stems from ignoring that the vast majority of pregnancies are freely entered into.

    I didn’t want to make this a discussion about abortion. I wanted to distinguish a perfectly good finding of a right to privacy to be included within “among these” from the question of whether to federalize abortion law.

    • #24
  25. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    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.

    This must be one of the most well-crafted sentences ever written. It is as simple and elegant as it is profound and evocative.

    But I can never read it without the words “among these” snagging on my brain a bit. It always makes me wonder what the other, unlisted unalienable rights are. Is there a full list somewhere? If not, how do we determine what they are and, importantly, who gets to determine what they are. Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to improve upon the declaration as set forth, and yet… there is just enough wiggle room in the words “among these” to open the door to all types of mischief.

    I wonder if they didn’t try to list all of them because dissension would arise about which were legitimate and which were not, what was left out, what should have been included. Maybe they just wanted us to contemplate what those listed meant to us: what does it mean that we have a right to life, and how does that play out in our lives? What does it mean to pursue liberty, why is it important, why would we want to be sure that it is a right that is protected. And finally, the pursuit of happiness–each of us gets to decide what that means to us, and it will likely be unique, special and personal. In fact, I wonder if we pursue those three, would we find that other unalienable rights we pursue are integral to these three? Just rambling. . .

    This makes a lot of sense, and I’d guess you are right. I just lament the lack of precision sometimes. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Freeven (View Comment):
    This makes a lot of sense, and I’d guess you are right. I just lament the lack of precision sometimes. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

    Me, too!  I just didn’t have that reaction this particular time! ;-)

    • #26
  27. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

     

    “right to privacy” The right to “be left alone,” or to be free of government scrutiny into one’s private beliefs and behavior. Abortion is harmful to another life. Is there a question regarding the validity of this assertion?

    The “right to privacy” is just an alternate way to express guaranteed individual liberty but that does not include a right for an individual to harm another innocent party.

    I agree. My point is that the inability to enumerate what are held up as as self-evident and inalienable rights is problematic when it comes to organizing a society of 360 million people with varying opinions on just what those rights are.

    • #27
  28. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    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.

    This must be one of the most well-crafted sentences ever written. It is as simple and elegant as it is profound and evocative.

    But I can never read it without the words “among these” snagging on my brain a bit. It always makes me wonder what the other, unlisted unalienable rights are. Is there a full list somewhere? If not, how do we determine what they are and, importantly, who gets to determine what they are. Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to improve upon the declaration as set forth, and yet… there is just enough wiggle room in the words “among these” to open the door to all types of mischief.

    […]

    “Among these” sets forth an important principle: The burden is on government to demonstrate that an action it is taking does not impinge on an unalienable right, listed or not. The Roe v Wade reference I think is misapplied in the comment. The problem with Roe is not that there is no unalienable right to privacy, but that there is tension in an unwanted pregnancy between the unalienable rights of the mother to that of the incipient rights of the unborn. Each state was balancing these interests in their own way consistent with their understanding of their respect constitutions approved by their citizens and through laws adopted by those citizens’ representatives. The Supreme Court decided to federalize that balancing. One of the unalienable rights may be that citizens have a right to control their governments in the most local way possible. When a question is federalized it removes it from more localized control.

    Well said, and I agree that the Roe example isn’t an apt way to make my point.

    Edit: After some thought, I stand by my example. See comment #32.

    • #28
  29. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    To me the pursuit of happiness has always been a smile and a wave.  Most people don’t know what brings happiness, and their views of happiness change over time, and achieving the thing that they are sure will bring happiness often brings misery; but they are free to Pursue happiness over and over again.  I think linguistically it’s a watery right, and Property would be better.

    But pursuit of Happiness supports Freedom of Conscience, of Thought, Expression and Action, and these are intangible (as opposed to most concepts of property which are material or lead to material goods).  And these immaterial rights are more valuable in the long run.

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  30. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Is it “self evident” that Roe’s “right to privacy” is or is not an unalienable right? It’s certainly not to me.

     

    “right to privacy” The right to “be left alone,” or to be free of government scrutiny into one’s private beliefs and behavior. Abortion is harmful to another life. Is there a question regarding the validity of this assertion?

    The “right to privacy” is just an alternate way to express guaranteed individual liberty but that does not include a right for an individual to harm another innocent party.

    I’ve always said that I have no problem with the Court finding a right to privacy.  It may be “among” the unlisted rights.  I just don’t think it gives one the right to kill someone else.

    • #30