reply to post by WTFover
Thank you so much, WTFover for your considered reply. Once again, you do not fail to disappoint as well. While you have asked to give you the
opportunity to argue your case in the matter of practicality of rights, before I speak to your argument, allow me to speak to the language of
practicality. The very use of practicality as an alternative to rights necessarily relegates rights into the realm of theory, and antithetical to
what is practical. Rights are not theoretical, they are law. As such they are practical in every sense of the word.
It would be a good experiment indeed, to have each member in this thread list fifty of what they believe to be rights. It is my prediction that we
would discover that some members have a misunderstanding of what rights are. There has been allusion to that all ready with some members framing
freedom as doing whatever one wants to do. However, rights are not doing whatever one wants to do, and in fact, while I have the absolute right to
keep and bear arms, I don't want to, and even better, I don't have to. Just because I have a right to do something doesn't mean I have to, and in
some cases it doesn't mean it is prudent to do so. Just because I have a right to do something doesn't mean I should exercise that right without
regard for others. This is not to say that just because in some circumstances it would be imprudent to exercise my right to commit to an action, that
this imprudence negates my right to do so, or empowers government to regulate that right.
Further, I am not so certain that "one persons rights end where another persons begins" is correct. We both have the right to speak freely, and to
publish freely, and my right to do so doesn't end with the beginning of your right to do so. It is not as if we have to take turns exercising this
right, and if we both choose to speak freely, and this freedom of speech turns into an argument, and the argument escalates to the point where we are
both screaming over each others speech, this is not a violation of another persons rights, as rude as it may be.
My right to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose, but this is not the same as saying my right ends where yours begins, and the principle behind
my right to swing a fist ends at the tip of your nose lies in the harm it causes if I strike you. Unless I am defending myself against harm you have
made clear you intend to cause, then I do not have a right to punch you. Outside of defense, we do not have the right to cause harm. This is how we
understand what rights are, not in that we claim them to be rights through reification, but we define them by the parameters of the harm not caused by
I most emphatically agree that on a planet of 7 billion people we must take great care to not transgress upon one another, but even on a planet of
only 7 million, or even 7 thousand, we should still take great care not to transgress upon one another. It is not as if because we have nearly 7
billion people on the planet that suddenly inalienable rights have become impractical, on the contrary, precisely because there are so many people on
the planet, the only practical strategy is to take great care to respect the rights of others. If we do not learn to do this then humanity will
likely self destruct. If we take the great care necessary to respect the unalienable rights of others, humanity has a real shot at expanding towards
greatness only imagined. Of course, this is the kind of idea that becomes dismissed as not being "realistic", or is "Utopian", but I am not
advocating any Utopia, I am advocating freedom, warts and all.
It is heartening to read your words regarding illicit substances and to know that, at least partially, I have managed to convince you that what a
person does that causes no harm, they do by right. That prohibition laws only succeed in creating bigger problems and do not in any way accomplish
what they are supposedly intended to do. I am not necessarily in agreement with you that people should be limited to using "illicit" substances in
the privacy of their own home. Certainly people have the right to go to a saloon or pub and drink alcohol, and I can see no reason why people
shouldn't have the right to go to an establishment that offers other substances for their pleasure and to enjoy that right.
In regards to mnemeth, first let me say that I have to love that guy, if for no other reason that mnemeth tends to make me look fairly moderate when
it comes to rights and freedom. I am in agreement with you that people should not be driving while impaired, but I do take issue with your language
once again. As you put it; "a person voluntarily and necessarily relinquishes his/her right..." My brother, people do not relinquish rights, even
voluntarily so. A right is a right and it exists even when one voluntarily abstains from exercising that right, but no one, any where, ever
relinquishes their rights. This is the sort of thinking that confuses the matters on what are and what are not rights. I would submit that people do
not have the right to drive a vehicle while they are impaired and cannot reasonably operate the vehicle. Such reckless disregard for the rights of
others is quite simply not a right. No right has been relinquished, it just doesn't exist.
However, and in fairness to mnemeth, I don't think he is arguing that people have the right to drive recklessly. What he is challenging is the
arbitrary nature of legislation that has defined DUI's under a very narrow parameter, that does not take into account many factors that would
otherwise reveal that the person who has been charged with a DUI is not in fact impaired to drive. Indeed, the whole DUI/DWI legislative process has
moved in the direction that governments are prone to move towards, and now many legislatures are attempting to define coffee intake as yet another
chemical that will impair driving. I am not arguing that in some circumstances that coffee does not impair the ability to drive, what I am arguing is
that arbitrary legislation regulating this type of behavior is pointless, and accomplishes nothing more than aggregation of power and revenue. It
does not protect people, nor does it prevent reckless driving.
Licensing schemes do not ensure that people possess the knowledge and ability to perform a certain action, and in terms of driving, I not only know
"licensed" drivers who have little knowledge of the vehicle they are operating, but have a very limited ability to drive that vehicle and yet, they
were issued a license. I also know plenty of people, police officers included, who will drive so recklessly, and with such disregard for others, it
boggles the mind. During my tenure as a bartender, I came to know plenty of police officers who I was proud to call my friend, but just because they
were my friends, some of those police officers were idiots after closing when they would insist I hang out with them and have a few more beers. They
would not only drive recklessly and under the influence, they would assume that my problem with their reckless driving was due to law enforcement and
insist that because they were cops no legal harm would come from their actions. Oh brother!
As to your questions regarding children, blind people, and Alzheimer victims driving, I would remind you that people do not have the right, unless as
defense, to harm others. It is not licensing schemes and legislation that dictates a child cannot drive a vehicle, it is the law itself that dictates
this. However, the licensing schemes and legislative process arbitrarily decide at what age a child is allowed to obtain a license to drive, which
appears to be in most states, if not all, at the age of 16 years old. However, if a child of 14 years old can demonstrate an ability and knowledge of
driving that makes clear that this 14 year old is not reckless in their driving, then why should they be denied their right to drive? What is the
principle behind 16 years old? Of course, parents have the right to raise their children in the manner that they see fit, provided they are not
harming that child, and if a parent say's no driving until the age of 16, then this is their right to do so.
The blind person is a different example. Does the blind person "relinquish" their right to keep and bear arms just because they are blind? That
blind person does not have the right to harm others, and prudence would dictate that a blind person grabbing a gun and firing it indiscriminately in
the direction he chooses is reckless and not a right. That does not mean this blind person relinquished the right to keep and bear arms, and as
technology advances, there may come a time when a blind person can use a gun with the same amount of accuracy as seeing person, and in the meantime
that blind person still retains his/her right to keep and bear arms. Technology may at some point facilitate the driving of blind people so that such
an act will cause no harm, but until that day, a blind person behind the wheel of an automobile is an action that by its nature is reckless. The same
goes for people with Alzheimer. These people never relinquished any rights. They never had the right to drive recklessly.
This is the practicality of it. If a blind person, or an Alzheimer victim can operate an automobile without driving recklessly, then what they do,
they do by right. All the traffic regulations in place, at least those that are intended to facilitate the rights of everyone, not impede them, need
no licensing scheme in order to have validity, and certainly the registration scheme where a person surrenders their bill of sale of the vehicle they
purchased in exchange for a title of registration is not at all necessary in order to have valid traffic regulations. The valid traffic regulations
are not a regulation of a right, they are the regulation of traffic. The same goes for parking ordinances. No one has the right to park in a manner
that impedes a persons right of way, or a businesses right to do business. This should be the purpose of parking ordinances. The effort to protect
the rights of all people, no more, no less.
To use your one word explanation, that being reasonableness
, I can see no unreasonableness to my explanations of rights, and how they work. We
are obviously in agreement of certain public regulation, for example traffic, as being reasonable. It is not reasonable because this regulation is a
regulation of the right to drive, and it is certainly not reasonable because state legislatures have declared driving to be a state granted privilege
and not a right, the regulation of traffic is reasonable because such regulation is intended to facilitate the right to drive, not impede it.
Your example of hauling a wide load on public roads is a great example of rights and their practicality. If a wide load is impeding traffic, it is
causing a demonstrable harm to other peoples right to drive, and as such people do not have the right to do this. If a wide load is using the roads
at a time when traffic is not being impeded, then no harm is caused, and that person hauls this wide load by right. Here is the problem with
licensing schemes, is that they are privileges, and too often people will be granted a privilege at the expense of other peoples rights. This is not
okay, and government does not have the lawful authority to grant such a privilege.
The argument that what is reasonable can be ascertained through "social norms" is a fallacy. For the Southern States in the beginning of the United
States of America, it was, arguably, a "social norm" that slavery was a valid form of economics. It was a majority of people, and in some cases
just a minority of people, running roughshod over the rights of individuals. Slavery is, as it always has been, unreasonable, regardless of the
"social norm" that accepts it as a valid form of economy. If an action causes no harm outside of defense, then it is a reasonable action regardless
of what the "social norm" say's about it. "Social norm" is a sociological term that hopes to describe in general a general attitude and culture
of a particular society. In my work as a tutor, I have recently tutored a student through his Introduction to Sociology class. In fact, I have
created a thread
that largely speaks to sociology, and the indoctrination of academia
in general. The text book this student was required to use defined law as "governmental social control". It was a definition that was causing
problems for this student, until he concluded that this definition was false. Upon concluding this, he accepted that in order to answer "correctly"
on any test asking what law was, that he would have to answer in the way the book defined it, but he used his own critical thinking skills, along with
my guidance pointing him towards literature and doctrines that refuted this definition, to know that just because he was being indoctrinate it didn't
mean he had to accept the indoctrination as fact.
This text book spent a great deal of time discussing "social norms" and the author was clearly of the mind that a current "social norm" was that
drinking alcohol was not accepted as a part of that "social norm". He made no distinction between drunkenness and drinking alcohol, simply asserted
that drinking alcohol was not a social norm and that when mass media glorifies drinking alcohol they are failing in their role as an "enforcer of
social norms". This is indoctrination, but is not a reasonable description of the social attitude towards drinking. It is arguable that the
"social norm" regarding drinking and driving was more lax at a point in history than it is today. Regardless of societies attitudes towards
drinking and driving, if that action becomes reckless driving, it is not, nor has it ever been a right. This, in my estimation, is a reasonable
understanding of rights.
You brought a smile to my face when you responded to my citation of Aristotle's assertion that all things aim towards the greater good. I agree with
you that we would all be better off if people understood this, and put more effort in perfecting their aim. You also suggested I was being too kind
to police officers in general because I asserted that they all aim towards the greater good. I respectfully disagree. I was not being kind, simply
practical. All people aim towards the greater good, this is not the problem. The problem lies in their aim. For those who have an accurate aim, the
greater good is easier to accomplish. For those whose aim is less than accurate, the greater good is not so easily accomplished. Just as the blind
person with a gun I spoke to earlier will have a difficult time hitting a bulls eye on a target, the ethically blind will have a problem hitting their
mark when they aim towards the greater good. I was not being kind to police officers, and spoke to that aim, and suggested that most police officers
have far better aim with a gun than with the greater good.
I will accept your defense of symbols and what they mean to people, in this context the symbol of the badge of law enforcement. In the end, we agree
on far more than we disagree, and that my brother, is a good thing. Thank you for contributing to this thread. It is always a genuine pleasure to
read your words, and I am as equally proud to be on the same team as you, as I am with Proto.