What to write about?
I could write about the Rolling Stone UVA story, but why? At this point, Rolling Stone and “Jackie” have about as much credibility as an unemployed man with a 480 FICO score.
I could write about the riots over the Michael Brown and Eric Garner Grand Jury decisions, but, again, why? Pretty well everything has been said. People made up their minds before the evidence was in; they’re not changing them now.
I could write about CrOmnibus- the Republicans trying to sell out Conservatives once again. I could write about the Use of Force authorization that the SCOAMT wants, but won’t specify exactly what he wants. Sorry, Barry, no blank checks.
With all that’s going on in the news, maybe we need to get back to first principles. Maybe we need to consider why we’re conservative in the first place. It’s always a good idea to review why you believe what you believe from time to time.
So with that, I’ll consider the second* of the first principles: Natural Rights.
What are Natural Rights?
Natural Rights are those things (really the only Rights at all) that every human being possesses simply by virtue of being human. No government can grant or remove them. No one has more of them than any other person. Simply being human grants these rights. In many ways, they are simply laws of nature- like gravity or entropy. But, being laws of Human Nature, we often fight against them in various ways.
The Natural Rights are generally summed up as “Life, Liberty, and Property.” Some guy who was really smart in other ways nevertheless screwed the pooch and changed that last one to “pursuit of Happiness” in our Declaration of Independence. We can forgive him that, I guess, though that wording has cause great harm.
Each right really deserves its own post, and may get one, but they deserve a little bit of illumination here.
The Right to Life is perhaps more specifically “the Right to sustain and protect one’s life.” The Right to Life includes things like the right to self-defense and the right to bear arms. It includes the right to feed one’s self (which is a bigger thing than you might think).
It really should not be mistaken for a reverence for life. While I am pro-life when it comes to the abortion argument, it is not because of my belief in the Right to Life. Here, a baby has no more “right to life” than a man being eaten by a bear. Less, in fact, simply by the fact that the man being eaten by the bear has some chance of defending himself. He can be his own agent of life protection and sustenance.
The Right to Liberty is both the “right to be left alone” and the “right to do as you please.” From it we derive things like the freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to work.
The Right to Property is the right to accumulate property. It includes the right to purchase and own a home, as well as the right to build wealth.
Why are natural rights important?
A belief in God is the foundation of the United States of America (if you don’t believe that, go re-read your history). The Natural Rights are the pillars standing on that foundation holding the rest of the structure up. All of the Constitutionally protected (not granted) rights are either direct applications of, or logical derivations of Natural Rights. I mentioned some in the previous section. The Right to Life is the one where we derive the Second Amendment, for example. The prohibitions against double-jeopardy and bills of attainder also have roots in the Right to Life. The Right to Property is where we derive things like the 3rd and 4th amendments.
Natural Rights are also important because if you do not realize from where your rights come, you might agree to any sort of nonsense. If Rights are not Natural, then they must be granted by some agency. If some agency grants them, then that same agency can rescind them. If they can be rescinded, then they are not “rights” at all.
I said previously that no government can either grant or deny the Natural Rights. No matter how restrictive the regime, no matter how devoted to Communism and/or oppression, you cannot be deprived of your Right to Life, Liberty, and Property. The exercise of those rights can be legally forbidden and therefore punished, but the rights themselves exist and you retain them fully.
That may seem trivial. What good is having a Right to Property if exercising it is going to get you imprisoned and all your stuff confiscated? But it is just the fact that people lost sight of the Right to Property that caused them to agree to stop exercising it. Communism cannot exist if the People remember their Natural Rights and vigorously defend them.
One example that might seem trivial. My brother (sorry, bro, but it highlights the point) and I were talking at Thanksgiving, and he mentioned a device had been invented which could be added to a circular saw (or table saw, or maybe either) which would sense when your finger came too close to the blade and stop the blade nearly instantly. He further asserted that this device would add only pennies to the cost of a saw, and expressed disbelief that people making saws were fighting a regulation which would mandate the use of this device.
But, of course, if you really believe in the Natural Right of Liberty, you immediately see why such a mandate should be prohibited. My Right of Liberty says that I can do what I want. Maybe I want to add this safety device to *some* saws and charge a higher price. Maybe I know that some people have uses for circular and table saws which would be interfered with by this device, so I want to continue making them without it. Maybe I just don’t want to add the device to the saws I make. Why should it be the government’s business?
And so we come to the end of this primer on Natural Rights. It is our belief in these Rights which lead first to the Declaration of Independence, and then the Constitution. Our continued belief in them is what motivates the various Tea Party organizations. It is why Conservatives are so upset with Boehner’s CrOmnibus. Belief in the Natural Rights is why we side with Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman over Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. Our commitment to them is why false charges of rape such as those made by Rolling Stone are met with such condemnation. It is why we oppose rioting for any reason.
*-Yep the 2nd. As alluded to, the first First Principle is a belief in God. All the founders where Christians of one sort or another.