“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.”
But do we? hold these truths to be self-evident, I mean?
I don’t think we do. We think we do until it’s challenged, until someone tries to exercise these unalienable rights. We were reminded of this today when thousands of children nationwide walked out of their schools to protest for gun reform.
I’ll be the first to admit that I believe this “endowed by their Creator” thing to be complete and utter bullshit. There is no all powerful “Creator,” therefore, there is no omnipotent being to give us anything. Our rights are. They are because we all recognize them, for ourselves and for each other. Those of us who aren’t ignorant, shitty bigots recognize that all people have the same rights including Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Leaders, such as Roosevelt with his “Four Freedoms,” brought it up, too. He believed that all humans, not just Americans, share entitlement to basic freedoms.
It turns out that these rights aren’t self-evident. You have but to speak with a firearms freak to be reminded that their right is spelled out in the Second Amendment. Ignore that they’re misinterpreting it to mean all people in the USA get/carry any and all weapons they want with NO exceptions or limitations. I don’t have the rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, according to the gun nuts, because those freedoms are not clearly spelled out in the Constitution. And because my freedom would step on their all-important freedom to own and/or carry around killing machines. And we can’t have me wanting something reasonable when their freedoms are obviously more important than anyone else’s.
No, those rights I referred to are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence (quoted at the start of this post), a letter to the king of England notifying him of the colonies’ intent to be free of England’s rule, but it’s not in any legal documents. And let’s face it, we can pretend, but those rights weren’t obvious (“self-evident”) then either. Men weren’t all equal. At the same time that line was written into the Declaration of Independence, men and women lived as slaves – literally as slaves – in the New World. And later, when the Constitution was written, men and women lived as slaves in the United States of America. Clearly, these truths weren’t self-evident then.
In that letter to the king where the authors mention that (obviously) all men are created equal, and all of them have these rights, maybe they only meant white men. Was that the part that is “self-evident?” Nope. Again, any gun owner will tell you you have the rights spelled out in the Constitution. They/you have the right to own all these weapons, anything your crazy/angry/homicidal heart desires, but I don’t have the right to life (well, sort of, according to 5th and 14th Amendments), to be free (again, sort of), and to generally live without fear so that I may do what I need to in order to be prosperous and content, to live my life in peace. It’s not just me because I’m a woman. According to them, even men don’t have that freedom, not even white men. The solution to my concern about all these crazy extremists and ammosexuals, their murder sprees, and the fact that they don’t recognize my (supposedly self-evident, so-obvious-we-don’t-even-need-to-put-them-in-the-Constitution) rights? According to them, I should get guns, too. Then I “won’t be afraid” which is what they think I’m saying when I remind them that I, all of us, even and especially the children of this country, have the right to live in peace.
(Don’t bother trying to help these troglodytes understand that guns don’t solve any problems. At all. Since they choose guns as their one and only tool, their hammer, they see every problem as a nail. And you should, too. /eyeroll)
The Gun Lobby has put one hell of a whammy on these assholes just to sell guns. Fuck them. The Lobby has taught these people, our fellow citizens, that their Second Amendment rights top all other rights especially because ours, these supposedly obvious (“self-evident”) ones, aren’t specifically listed in the Constitution. And they’ve chosen to believe it and to hold their own rights above all else. Above other citizens, above the children. So fuck them. And fuck all of you who think your right to own killing machines without limitation or regulation trumps the basic rights of everyone else to live free of fear of your selfishness, insecurities, ignorance, and stupidity.
Today even the little children are begging for their “self-evident” rights to be recognized:
It is freezing cold and these 60+ elementary school protesters are lying completely still, and no one is making a sound, just the posters flapping a little over their bodies. Alexandria, Virginia. pic.twitter.com/6OI0GHbdQN
— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) March 14, 2018
Society doesn’t work if we don’t recognize each other’s rights. And again, rights don’t come from a god, the invisible pink unicorn that lives in your shoes or even from the flying spaghetti monster (forgive me, Oh, Noodly One, for this point is important). They come from us. We recognize that they are, and we recognize that everyone has them. That is, we recognized them until some group of assholes like those gun freaks tell us that they, their group, don’t recognize any rights other than the ones specifically enumerated in the Constitution, the ones that are there to protect the People from the government.
But what about everyone’s rights? The basic human rights we should all recognize to protect us, not just from the government, but from each other?
The truths that we assume are self-evident now (even though they clearly weren’t 200 years ago)? that all men (and women, I hope) are created equal? that they are endowed (by their Creator, if you subscribe to that sort of thing) with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? If they aren’t recognized by all, then they aren’t self-evident truths, are they? That means that we don’t recognize them? I’m serious. I’m asking because I seriously thought we all had them until recently. I certainly recognized them for everyone, not just me.
Technically, we have a right to life. The evidence is the laws that are supposed to prevent people killing other people (other than the barbaric ones that allow the government to put people to death – but this isn’t the time to go into capital punishment). If you’re a white man, especially, some effort will probably be put in to trying to solve your murder and punishing the person who committed the crime. If you’re a woman or non-white, likely less effort will be invested, but it still might be done. I suppose it depends, but technically, we all have a right to life. Technically.
As for liberty, we supposedly have the right to not be incarcerated without due process (see 5th and 14th Amendments). You know, except for that whole Gitmo thing. Oh, and unless you’re a black or Hispanic man. They’re not so concerned with your right to liberty if you’re not white in the United States. You know how it is – old white dudes got to make their money from the privatized prisons, right? There are also the ICE detention centers holding people all over the country. I’m referring to their existence and not even going into the abuses that are happening and being ignored inside these detention centers. But, you know, other than all that, right to liberty and all that. That one is sounding less and less like a right and more like a guideline which is unacceptable, in my opinion.
We have laws that prevent us from kidnapping other people or restricting their freedom to move around, and other than when it involves spouses, these laws are taken pretty seriously. After this, though, the whole “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” gets very vague and loose. Some places have laws or ordinances against terrorizing people, stalking them, harassment, etc. but many do not. Some places take hate crimes seriously, or they say they do, but do they? I mean do they now considering that hate crime is supported, even encouraged, by many in our own government up to and including the president? What we do have in place is not very useful, and when you add in “cyber crimes,” we’re even less likely to feel safe even if we don’t know of someone, in particular, who is stalking us or using our identity or who picked up a stack of guns at Wal-Mart on the way home from work so they can come after us or someone we love.
The United Nations has a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but that doesn’t help us if our government and our people don’t recognize those rights. Look, it’s nice to have the Bill of Rights. Don’t get me wrong. We need those kinds of protections from our government (and we need to stop interpreting them so loosely/incorrectly), but those are supposed to be built on top of basic human rights. My concern here, tonight, is those basic human rights. They are supposed to be obvious and universal. Clearly, they’re not. So, how would I go about getting our rights, yours and mine, recognized – besides the E.R.A. which I also need – by and for everyone? There might be precedents buried somewhere, but I need them to be in a central place where we can ALL review them and where I can remind someone when they’re stepping on mine where they are and what they are. How do we do that?
(Yeah, I included a fuck all y’all in here. It’s appropriate today when even little children are participating in a demonstration in this supposedly “great” country because they want to live. It’s appropriate when even the little children have to demonstrate because “our” government and neighbors don’t give a shit about any of us. The adults are getting nowhere, have gotten nowhere, so the kids are stepping in; they have to if they want to live. Lawmakers want our/the gun manufacturer’s money and whatever Trump and Putin want and screw the rest of us. Still, thanks for reading my post. You were warned that sometimes they’re rants. So there you go. End of rant. *hugs*)
Link: Fifth Amendment of Constitution – right to life and liberty in relation to due process. “. . .nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; . . .” (one of the reasons the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station is a problem).
Link: Universal Declaration of Human Rights – United Nations General Assembly, adopted 10 December 1948 as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. This is not the day to get me started on Nikki Haley at the U.N. in relation to human rights. Even if these rights apply to us, and I can’t tell if they do, she is not an advocate for any human’s rights.
Link: Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities – perhaps we’d qualify for these rights if we were naturalized citizens? but S.O.L. if natural-born?
Link: Franklin D. Roosevelt Speaks of Four Freedoms on 6 January 1941
Link: “After Daughter’s ‘Unimaginable’ Death, Parkland Family Moved To Action” – by Melissa Block and Marisa Peñaloza at NPR. We think we can understand the fear, but we can’t understand the loss. Still, we need to try. “It’s unimaginable, but … we need to imagine it…”
Link: Scope Tunnel Effect – by E. Brooks at Gray Matters
Link: 27 words: a deeper dive into the 2nd amendment – by sincerely, schatz
Link to original tweet from Preet Bharara.
Link to original thread from Andy Richter (below).
Link to original tweet from Lois Beckett. (Screen shot below in case the link should ever be broken since it’s a video.) Text: “It is freezing cold and these 60+ elementary school protesters are lying completely still, and no one is making a sound, just the posters flapping a little over their bodies. Alexandria, Virginia.” Accompanying video is of young children lying still and quiet on the cold ground. The only movement is the posters covering their little bodies flapping a bit in the breeze. Of all the thousands of courageous students who took part in this important demonstration nationwide, this one leaves the deepest impression on me.
Edited 15 March 2018, 8 May 2018 (added comic of NRA man killing woman/children rights- would have been featured if I found it before this post)
#SelfEvidentMyAss #NeverAgain #GunReformNow #MarchForOurLives #NationalStudentWalkout #NationalWalkoutDay #Equality