- The case for Freedom of Expression for all peoples begins with the United States of America, which is the Grand Experiment of a country ruled by all of the people within it. As such, it is a model for a world ruled by all the people upon it.
- In these United States of America the right of Freedom of Expression, or Free Speech, is not a singular right. Attempts to define it as such are therefore doomed to failure. History is proof of this continual failure. The right of Free Speech flows naturally from all of our primary rights, and therefore is more robust and resilient than any singular right. However, as with any right, one must use it in order to keep it. To use Free Speech properly as an inalienable right, enriching our earthly existence, depends upon defining our primary rights properly.
- The primary rights of every citizen of these United States are outlined in the Declaration of Independence. These include the Right to Equality, the Right to Life, the Right to Liberty, the Right to The Pursuit of Happiness, the Right to Safety, the Right to Good Governance, and the Right to Prudence. These are the inalienable rights that cannot be abridged. This is the stated purpose for the birth of the United States, and why it is known as the Grand Experiment. From the start, however, these ideals were under attack, and the full exercise of the people's inalienable rights became criminal the day the Constitution became the law of the land. The Constitution of the United States has dissevered and stifled the boundless and free rights that are declared so eloquently in the Declaration of Independence for all people.
- I am tempted to footnote the references to the Declaration, but this of all documents, should be common knowledge among all peoples of the world. The benefits it bespeaks are immeasurable. That it is not common knowledge, even though it continues to be the ground-spring of independence and human rights worldwide, speaks volumes. Read it. Speak it. Live it.
- There are many who would argue that the Constitution of the United States supersedes the Declaration, and is more pertinent to the issue of Free Expression. Their voices are so many, and so loud, that I must take a few paragraphs to dissuade them from their blind leap of faith.
- The Declaration recognizes the Right and Obligation to Good Governance by declaring: “. . . when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them (the people) under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” The Declaration then goes into detail on actions that a government may not take. These are listed as charges against King George III and Great Britain. More than a few of those crimes against the people are now constitutional for the government of the United States of America to commit upon the people, foreign and domestic. This is in direct conflict with the stated principles for the creation of the United States, and highlights how destructive the Constitution of the United States has been to the valor of the country “. . . of the people, by the people, and for the people . . .” (Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, 1865). Because the Constitution is in direct conflict with the Declaration of Independence, its continued existence is dangerous to the inalienable rights of all the peoples of the world.
- The legend that has grown up around the power of the Constitution is abominable, as the abolitionist Lysander Spooner declared in his pamphlet, No Treason (1869): “The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. . . . only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. . . . They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory . . .”
- Not only must we consider who the “people” are who are referenced in the Constitution, but we must, as well, ask why those particular people wanted to “. . . form a more perfect union . . .”, and whether their dismissal of the Articles of Confederation and their modifications upon the Declaration of Independence support or violate the original conception of inalienable rights. Assessing the history of these United States from the perspective of the Declaration leaves no doubt the Constitution is a mistake, but in a different fashion than were the Articles of Confederation. There is no sane argument against dissolution of the Constitution in a land where the Supreme Court rules that a corporation is a person, but women and children are not. There is no sane argument against dissolution of the Constitution in a land where the Supreme Court equates free speech with monetary gifts to politicians. There is no sane argument against dissolution of the Constitution in a land where the Supreme Court rules that torture is legal and the torturers are above the law. There is no need to go on. We all know the litanies of abuse, of violence, and of injustice that are plaguing this once Grand Experiment.
- The Constitution abrogates, and makes a mockery of, every inalienable right declared. Therefore, the Constitution of the United States has been, at best a hindrance, at worst a contract of slavery. Spooner recognized this, as did many others in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War. Ironically, though ending chattel slavery was one of the consequences of the Civil War, enslaving the entire population under Federalism was another. With that, I dismiss the Constitution as irrelevant to the discussion of the definition of Free Expression, and thereby return the Declaration of Independence to its rightful place as the charter of our inalienable rights.
- There is always the question of who the writers of the Declaration of Independence meant when they wrote “. . . all men are created equal . . ..” Practically speaking, it doesn't matter. As knowledgeable as we are today, the simple substitution of the word “humans” for the word “men” is the only change this document needs. We have every obligation to correct it, for no document is sacred if it does any violence to human rights. I would argue for “beings” as the substitute word, but that argument is a tough sell in these harsh times, and it is also outside the scope of this essay except to say that all living beings naturally have the same inalienable rights. How could it be otherwise?
- Consider, then, all humans of all genders and all ages are addressed by, and are protected by, this document. The Declaration of Independence even includes the guiding principles to use in affairs with people of other lands, or other worlds, with different traditions, customs and beliefs. If there is any doubt of this blanket protection of rights of all humans, the reference in the introductory paragraph of the Declaration references “mankind”, and we have long understood “mankind” to mean “the entirety of the human race”. This document speaks to the universe, and every person within it. The parameters of Free Expression for all persons are defined within this document in undeniable terms.
- Just because the writers of this document, themselves, could not live up to the lofty ideals within it, and thereby committed atrocities wholly inconsistent with the spirit and words of this document, does not mean their infamous acts should be sanctioned or lauded by us. In fact, atrocities such as Thomas Jefferson's government-sanctioned and tariff-funded genocide of the Native Americans should be boldly proclaimed as a warning to the people not to trust those who only know how to talk the talk, and cannot walk the walk. The words Jefferson used were beautiful, but his actions were fully despicable. Let that also be a reminder that this discussion is about inalienable rights, and not about specific people or personalities, nor is it about maintaining the status quo of any nation, doctrine or dogma.
- To the date of this writing we have not achieved the full realization of our inalienable rights. Therefore, every nation, every doctrine, every person is called to answer, as if in a court of justice, why this is so. Since the abridgment of primary rights is naturally a crime, and is in fact the only type of natural crime there is, every person who has helped restrict these inalienable rights is a criminal. Those who commit these crimes do not have the people's unlimited mercy, but even as criminals they have the same inalienable rights as everyone else.
- They do have the right of Equality, that no one has greater or lesser rights than they do. They can speak out on this to all, be heard in all matters, and have free and equal access to all forms of communication in order to express themselves to the full measure of their rights.
- They do have the inalienable right of Life, regardless of the crimes they have committed, there is no one that can rightfully kill them. They can speak out on this in whatever manner necessary to preserve their life.
- They do have the inalienable right of Liberty, to exercise the limits of their mind, body and spirit even while in rehabilitation for their criminal behaviors. They can speak out on this in whatever manner necessary to protect their liberty.
- They do have the inalienable right of Pursuit of Happiness, to quest after their place of peace within this universal existence. They can speak on this in whatever manner necessary to articulate their needs.
- They do have the inalienable right of Safety, to expect no harm be done to them by other humans in any manner. They can speak out on this in whatever manner necessary to secure their safety.
- They do have the inalienable right of Good Governance, to demand the organization of their community be such that it provides everyone within it the opportunity to live fully within their primary rights. They can speak out on this in whatever manner necessary to construct good governance.
- They do have the inalienable right of Prudence, to know that changes of governance will be done solely to address chronic inabilities to protect and nurture the inalienable rights of everyone within the community. They may speak out on this in any manner necessary to attain prudent change.
- That is the full extent of the multifaceted right of Free Expression. It is defined by the primary and inalienable rights it supports. It is limitless within the boundaries of those primary rights. The right to express oneself fully, and all other secondary rights that flow from the abundant headwaters of our inalienable rights, are the same for everyone. Free Expression is inherent within every one of our inalienable rights, and therefore the right to speak can never be denied or diminished.
- There are many who would argue that this assessment of inalienable rights is naive. If they are correct, then the Declaration of Independence is a farce. However, we know with all certainty that the Declaration of Independence is an expression of self-evident truths, and therefore this assessment is unassailable inasmuch as it reflects those natural truths.
- "'. . . All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.' This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of the French Revolution made in 1791 also states: 'All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights.' Those are undeniable truths. . . ." -- Hồ Chí Minh, Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, September 2, 1945.
– end –
- (painting by Charles Moffat)
Monday, April 05, 2010
Posted by OnlyEd at 4/05/2010 10:35:00 PM