“Rights”: Liberals Have Perverted the Meaning of the Word

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This week, we once again celebrated Independence Day. For most, this is an occasion to watch fireworks, grill out, and enjoy a precious day off from work. A time to get together with friends and family and, with any luck, enjoy a beautiful summer day. Millions of Americans will go the entire day without giving a single thought to what it is we’re actually celebrating.

That sounds pious, so let’s immediately come down off the high horse. After all, the Fourth of July is a time to relish our independence, and it’s about more than simply breaking away from the British Empire 239 years ago. It’s about the principle that made the United States unique among all the countries of the world – not just in 1776, but from the beginning of recorded history. It’s about the rights of man – inalienable and God-given – and the freedom from an oppressive government. And included in those rights is the right not to spend the 4th studying the Declaration of Independence. Americans work too damn hard to have some snooty writer questioning how they spend their days off.

But since our rights are under constant attack these days, this week is as good a time as any to reflect on what those rights actually are. And that includes reflecting on what they are not.

Our rights are collected in the Amendments to the Constitution, but they aren’t there to remind individual Americans what they are and are not allowed to do. They are there, rather, to remind the federal government of its proper place. These are the rights our politicians are sworn to uphold, and these are the rights they are forbidden from trampling.

Nothing in life is absolute, of course, and the same goes for the Bill of Rights. Most of us agree that each of these rights comes with certain exceptions. Most of us realize that we don’t live in a black and white world. There are always going to be gray areas. That’s why we have courts.

Liberals, of course, have exploited these gray areas for all they’re worth. The dangers of their crusade against individual liberty have been well-documented.

Just as dangerous, though (and not nearly as well-documented), is their perversion and expansion of our rights into areas that are not in harmony with the country’s founding. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, but it does not guarantee you the right to be published in the New York Times. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, but it does not guarantee you the right to get a free gun from the federal government.

In addition to chipping away at our actual rights, the left has been busy trying to make us believe that our “rights” include things like: Access to abortion; free healthcare; a college education; a financially-secure retirement; etc.; etc.

An excellent test to see if a “right” is really viable is whether or not it forces someone else to provide it. You can’t have a legitimate “right” if, in order to exercise it, you must take someone else’s rights away. You can’t have a legitimate “right” if, by codifying that right into law, you actually increase people’s reliance on government.

Dependence is, after all, the very opposite of what we should be celebrating.