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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    I Don't Think That Law Means What You Think It Means Comment
    Gregory Morris, 12/26/07 7:36:35 am
    Hrm... California continues to confuse me.

    I really don't get this one... is private property no longer private? The First Amendment gives all Americans the right to say what they want. What a lot of crazies don't understand is that it does not give you the right to access to media or private property. However, this case is about California's state laws. So... since I don't know what those are, or anything about them really, I'm going to make the broad and generalized statement that they are clearly stupid, and must have been written by a bunch of socialists. Or the court was wrong. How else do you explain someone's "right" to protest overriding the private property rights of an individual or corporation?

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

    Re: I Don\'t Think That Law Means What You Think It Means
    guy, 12/26/07 1:54:54 pm
    I know, I know, I'm picking nits but:

    "The First Amendment gives all Americans the right to say what they want."

    No, the First Amendment recognizes the existing human right of self expression. That distinction gets glossed over too many times.

    Re: I Don\'t Think That Law Means What You Think It Means
    Gregory Morris, 12/26/07 2:35:16 pm
    Yeah, yeah. I slip up sometimes. In the context of what I was talking about, I really mean "secures the right" not "gives the right"...

    That's why you shouldn't blog early in the morning before you are awake :)
    Re: I Don\'t Think That Law Means What You Think It Means
    jadegold, 12/27/07 5:14:32 pm
    Actually, "gives" is a better word.

    If we say rights are "self evident," we're really taking a lazy way out. It's akin to arguing Ford makes a better car than Honda because I say so.
    Re: I Don\'t Think That Law Means What You Think It Means
    Gregory Morris, 12/28/07 6:51:40 am
    I'm not sure that's the "lazy way out." There is plenty of scholarship in support of the concept that the rights in the First Amendment were pre-existing in one fashion or another. Whether they are "god-given" or "natural" rights, or if they trace their roots to common law, or even if they can be considered "pre-existing" simply because they were not previously denied in the new world... there are good arguments in support of the idea that the Bill of Rights acknowledged rights, rather than created them. Certainly believing that all of our rights are granted by some old document can also be considered "lazy".

    Your argument makes no sense what-so-ever. Care to elaborate? I don't think anyone is saying freedom of speech is pre-existing just "because I say so".
    Re: I Don\'t Think That Law Means What You Think It Means
    jadegold, 12/30/07 4:33:21 pm
    It's sloppy scholarship if one asserts rights are "God-given;" after all, this seems to indicate--at the very least--that one has some intimate, detailed knowledge of the will of 'God" or some other deity.

    Of course, such a claim is open to a great deal of mischief.

    WRT "natural rights," they are simply lazy and dishonest thinking. After all, claiming something as a "natural right" is the equivalent of saying something is true because it is true. It's a circular argument and one designed to cut off debate. That's why invocation of 'natural rights' was a favorite of segregationists and others. If you haven't a good argument as to your views--it's probably the best you can do to say it's a 'natural' right or law.

    Documenting rights isn't lazy; obviously (or hopefully), these rights were conferred with some purpose and thought.

    Re: I Don\'t Think That Law Means What You Think It Means
    Gregory Morris, 12/30/07 9:50:38 pm
    Well, assuming you don't believe in a higher power (which seems to be the case), or some type of objective truth that in some sense governs humanity, it makes sense to call any scholarship based on a "god given" right sloppy. I agree that saying "it is so because it is so" is no good in a debate, and those that espouse that simplistic belief ought to be ignored.

    However, likening the concept of "natural rights" to segregationist views, because they happened to espouse it is similarly sloppy. In addition, it is not a valid comparison. I am not suggesting that because rights are natural, you can arbitrarily make them up and deem them valid.

    The question at hand is whether or not the right to freedom of speech/expression existed in some form or another before the Bill of Rights was drafted. Personally, I think the concept of individual liberty is not only natural, but directly tied to human instinct, rather than the philosophical fancy of our founding fathers. Does instinct alone confer some "right"? No, probably not. But could these natural human tendencies, our yearning to be free of the capricious rule of others, combined with what is undoubtedly the best possible means of achieving the goals of a government "by the people" be construed in such a way as to define a pre-existing right? I haven't seen any good evidence to the contrary.

    If you wish define the idea of a "right" differently than me, you are by all means allowed. My definition, however, is that a right is natural and exists regardless of the law. Otherwise, what is a right? If laws grant you a right, then it isn't a right, but rather a privilege. A privilege, even granted by the overwhelming will of citizens, is still a privilege in that it can be revoked if circumstances change.
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