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What Rights?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I received, in my Inbox, the following quote by Samuel Adams:
"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."
~Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)
It got me thinking about our Rights and how we really have no Rights other than those we claim and defend. That makes sense, right? We all claim to have the "Freedom of Speech", but as soon as the government comes along and says, "Shut up or go to jail", we comply. Now, I ask you, do we really have this Right? No. of course not. Why? Because we have to be willing to claim and defend our Rights no matter what the consequences.
I also had the thought that we, as Americans, have become, generally, ignorant of our Rights. Want proof? Here you go:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
~Miranda warning
Here we have the government telling you what your Rights are if you happen to get stopped and questioned by law enforcement officers. People, let me tell you that if government has to tell you what your Rights are, you don't have any. Every American should know and claim their Rights and they should be willing to defend them, no matter what.
Maybe Alexander Hamilton's fear that an enumeration of some rights in the constitution might be taken to imply the absence of other rights. He tried to guard against it with an amendment:
The exceptions here or elsewhere in the Constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people, or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the Constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution. (Source)
This, of course, was the foundation for what later become the Ninth Amendment:
The enumeration in this Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Remember the Ninth? Seldom cited and hardly understood. Too bad. We really need to get back in touch with what made America so great: the individual, self-government, and the preservation and protection of our rights by our government. 


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