Thursday, February 19, 2004
On Rights (Part 1 of a no doubt on going saga):
Let me begin by first explaining the origin of the idea for this series. I've been kicking this idea around for some time, but the "crystallizing" event came from a long time friend and fellow blogger, Cinnabari. Some time ago, she posted a few paragraphs on her blog, something along the lines of telling people they didn't have a right to go through life in an unoffended manner.
Well, this woke up my muse and he/she/it has been chattering non stop ever since. I feel like I must explore and explain this topic if for no other reason than to shut he/she/it up. Now, if you visit Cinnabari's blog, you'll find that we don't agree on much. She is, in my humble, unbiased opinion, one of the best science fiction writers around. Anyone with the keys to a publisher's press would be well served to pay her a big chunk of change for her work. Though we may not see eye to eye on much, she does make me think, which is one of the reasons she is one of my dearest friends.
End of digression.
Rights. We all have them. The Declaration of Independence states the following:
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.
The Constitution goes on to enumerate other rights. The first ten amendments, or Bill of Rights for those of you who flunked your high school civics course, spell out the freedom of speech, assembly, press, religion, the right to keep and bear arms, protection from unlawful search and seizure and self incrimination, and so forth.
What I want to explore here is the rights which people seem to have given themselves as of late. I have a few I'll explain here, and whenever I find another one, I'll add it to my list. Some of you may want to take notes, as you may not have the rights you think you have.
You do not have a right to work in this country. No one is required to hire you, give you a job, or otherwise employ you in any way, shape manner or form. You have the freedom to choose your vocation. If in making this choice you choose a profession that is less than profitable, you do not have the right to expect to be bailed out. If your skills are not suited to the current marketplace, go get some that are. You can do a lot of things in this country. John Wayne gave a great soliloquy about this concept in The Alamo while portraying Davy Crockett:
Republic. I like the sound of that word. It means a man can breathe free. Come or go, buy or sell, be drunk or sober. A man can do that in a Republic.
Now this one I take almost directly from Cinnabari. You do not have a right to walk through this life unoffended. Sorry about that. Get over it. Get over yourself. People are different. They think different from you, they believe different than you. That is, by the way, their right to do so. In my humble opinion, there are a lot of thin skinned people out there who need to be offended.
3. Freedom of Speech.
You'd think after 228 years, we'd have figured this one out. You have the freedom to say whatever the hell you want, within certain very broad restrictions. You can't openly threaten the President. If you have access to classified data you can't go blabbing it to the New York Times. You can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. Within those limits, say what you want. The catch about the whole deal is two-fold. First - this freedom applies to everyone. You may go on your diatribe about someone, group of people, issue or whatever. Just be prepared for the object of your rant to turn around and rip you up one side and down the other. If what they say offends you, please see item 2 in this list. Second, and something that would seem to be patently obvious - Nobody has to listen to you. Freedom of Speech neither includes nor implies a right to be heard.
Nobody has a right to success. That is earned, most times through extreme effort, long hours, and great risks. You would do much better to emulate those who have succeeded in life that to criticize them for their lifestyle.
5. The Level Playing Field
All animals are created equal. Some animals are created more equal than others. - George Orwell -Animal Farm
Life is not fair. I apologize if I have just burst your world view bubble. Some people are just better at what they do than others. If there is something you really want to do, and for some reason just can't seem to do it well enough to be competitive, you have two choices - a) get better at it, or b) find something else that you're good at.
I'm sure there will be more of this that I'll get around to, but for now,
Here endeth the lesson.