In one of my recent posts to this blog, I wrote about the concept of Negative Rights.
I had it pointed out to me that the term was actually a misnomer. I can accept that may be the case, but I maintain the term still needed explained, since people insist upon its use to, describe what’s being done—most particularly where the Constitution is concerned.
Another reality is, the desire to create the “hands off” statements in the Bill of Rights, was based on a perceived (if not entirely well guided) attempt on the part of those doing so, to point to the fact that there were a series of “positive rights” that could be seen to underlie the negative ones.
There’s no doubt it was seen as necessary to essentially prohibit the quashing of those rights, because they were basically seen as things that should be untouchable.
It can be argued that some of the restrictions were intended to be strictly placed on the federal legislature. That said, it can be equally asserted that there are Constitutions on the state level, that in some measure, mimic the concepts expressed in the national one.
As such, even if one can argue that the United States Constitution only prohibits the national law writing body from writing mandates against free speech, for example, it’s very likely that the several states have similar provisions in their respective charter documents.
This being the case, it seems entirely reasonable to argue, that freedom of speech, is at least something we can assert government at more or less no level, has the ability to legislate.
Some of the rights treated in the federal document, appear to be a great deal more restrictive, as I’ve said in past. The 2nd Amendment, being one, uses the simple expression, “…shall not be infringed.” in its language.
There’s no reference to who shouldn’t be able to infringe that right. The assumption this is a blanket prohibition—that it means literally nobody has the authority to in any way keep one from exercising the right in question—is in my mind, a valid one.
As a rule, these statements of things one should expect always to be able to do, should be left alone as long as one acting within them doesn’t abridge greater rights of another.
If for example, you assume the you can use the right to freedom of expression (if you choose to allow it to be so couched), to push another over a cliff, chances are good, you’ll end up depriving that one of his or her right to life.
In my view, rights are hierarchical, if one hasn’t life, liberty is of no consequence. Likewise, taking one’s liberty will almost certainly infringe on his or her right to pursue happiness. Flowing from pursuit of happiness, are the remainder of the listed freedoms.
This should be the basis for each and every denial of the exercise of rights. If a greater or equal freedom of another is challenged or removed through one’s performance of an act pursuant to a given right, problems ensue.
But truly, before this ever becomes an issue that another must face or deal with, you or I ought to make it our business to practice discretion.
This is one of the basic precepts that should apply to each member of a civil society.
So you want to march down the street in your authentic Nazi uniform, carrying that flag emblazoned with a swastika? Is that within your rights? Yes it is.
But even though you can claim your doing so is an expression of your rights, you need to be entirely aware that what you’re choosing to do will cause issues.
At that point, you should ask yourself a simple question, “Is this something I ought to do?”
It doesn’t matter if you do count yourself a member of the “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei,” it should be quite plain to you, that for many—that body having done untold damage—dressing in the uniform and holding the flag will very likely cause you to be subject to strong reactions from people who certainly don’t share your zeal for that group.
Should you expect your rights to be taken from you on the basis of those actions? Not as far as I’m concerned (others may disagree). Should you expect to potentially end up in a brawl? That’s another matter entirely. The answer is very likely, “Yes.”
As for me, unless you choose to act on your desire to support Nazism by doing the things those who supported it in past counted acceptable and reasonable, I’ll likely let you alone.
That’s not because I in any sense, agree with your expression. Rather, I recognize and support the right under which you make your (in my view extremely confused) profession of belief.
I can even state that, if you support the actions of Herr Hitler and those associated with that movement, I want to know that’s the case.
Better to me, is an adversary (and you may count yourself as such, if you support that foolish set of beliefs) who makes it clear what he or she believes, than one who hides that for which he or she stands, in order to remain undetected.
I know myself to hold ideals not possessed by many. Sometimes I wear my heart on my sleeve, at others, I keep what I profess under wraps, intent on getting others to consider things that will bring them to a place of understanding for concepts they may count problematic or downright wrong.
This is discretion. This is what I believe one ought to embrace when dealing with things that—correct or incorrect—will likely evoke strong (usually negative) reactions in others.
You have rights, that’s sure. You may act in them as you desire. Is it always good so to do? Not nearly so! Just because one can claim a given liberty, doesn’t mean one ought always do so. I’m not saying one can’t do so (recognizing potential for retribution of one sort or another), just that it’s far from always wise to do so.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.