Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Government threat to life, liberty

Government threat to life, liberty

(My Clovis News Journal column for July 6, 2012)

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have all heard those words, and most of us probably recognize them from the Declaration of Independence, but have you ever stopped to think about what they mean?

Those three things may seem random and unconnected, but they are as interconnected as links in a chain. Each is entirely dependent upon the one preceding it, and leads, or should lead, to the one that comes after it. Happiness is dependent on the liberty to pursue it, which you can't do if you are not alive. Originally "property" was mentioned instead of "pursuit of happiness", but it was later realized that property is just a facet of happiness. There are many other ways to pursue your happiness; many, but not all, depend upon your property, and your ability to keep it.

Even people who seek to violate the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of others are trying to make themselves happy by doing so. They couldn't try to be happy without that freedom, but, freedom is only a part of liberty.

Liberty is the freedom to do anything you want as long as it doesn't violate the identical rights of anyone else. If your happiness depends on you punching people who are minding their own business, or if you believe you have to steal to make yourself happy, you are out of luck. Unless you get a job that comes with the illusion of authority to do those things. That still doesn't make it right.

Sadly, even though Thomas Jefferson claimed that government's purpose was to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, there is no greater threat to those "unalienable" rights today, and for the past several generations at least, than government.

How do you fix that? Either you stop permitting government to legally interfere with the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of everyone, or you have to put that power away; out of reach of those who use it as a weapon. That was what the Constitution was supposed to do- place most things beyond the reach of government. But government grew, and now it ignores the rules which were supposed to restrain it. It considers everything to be within its reach, and few people disagree.

No government can ever claim to possess "just powers" yet violate the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of anyone without losing its legitimacy. No matter how badly you want that to not be true.


Angry armed mother gets off

Yes, the double meaning is intentional.

There was a recent case where a mom, who was an armed government employee, came home to discover her 19 year old daughter and a male visitor enjoying themselves in a naked fashion.

The mom became violent, striking the man and then holding him at gun point (and handcuffed naked) until she discovered, through a phone call, that she couldn't have him charged with anything because he was an invited guest. She was then arrested, but the charges were dismissed.

I was sent this story in an email from someone who thought it was funny and liked the outcome.

I did neither.

I responded thusly:
While the mom's emotional over-reaction was somewhat understandable from a parental point of view, I hope the guy sues her. And wins. An invited guest in the home doesn't deserve to be held at gun point even if doing something, with consent, that you don't like. He wasn't harming her, trespassing, or damaging her property in any way. She was wrong.
Which got a reply from him in which he disagreed:
First - Invited or not you don't [have sex with] my daughter in my home without my permission. Second - She held him at gun point till she found out the facts and then she let him go. He did sue her and this was the court decision upholding the dismissal of the district court. For a change the court was right!!

This bothers me for a few different reasons.

It assumes ownership of the daughter. It asserts that it is not also her house. It claims the right to demand permission from someone not involved in the activity, and who isn't harmed by it. It seems to say that holding an innocent person at gun point (after punching him) is OK as long as you then let him go- no liability here for initiating force. I think the court was clearly wrong.

Added- He later responded, and said this in regards to the daughter's property rights:
Until the daughter is granted or gifted that right or a portion of that right of ownership, she has no ownership interests.

Hmmm. OK. I don't think rights can be granted (or withdrawn), but only respected or violated. I respect my (nearly) 5 year-old daughter's property rights- especially when she asserts them. Those rights don't come from me. Sometimes she doesn't use those property rights in a way I would choose for her to use them. That's life. Sometimes I assert my property rights in ways that irritate her (and others). It's not something I have to ponder. I would hate to have someone who is a part of my family, living with me, but whom I declare has no property rights to the house, or at least to their portion of it. Now, she can't burn her room without damaging everyone else's property, or without endangering my life, but the same boundaries apply to me and my decision about burning my room. As long as we live under the same roof, the best way I can see to get along is to respect each other's boundaries and property rights. That mom did not.