You Say You Want a Conversation, Well… You Know…

JOE HUFFMAN MAKES a few points at his blog and on Facebook. It’s a short and concise statement of some positions. Might take five minutes to read. Go thou and do so.

Back? Good. Now. I don’t see any point to disagree on. However, as he says earlier commentators have fallen short, as much as I respect Joe, I must argue something the like in his case. I have therefor taken the liberty…

Let us begin at the beginning. The Declaration of Independence asserts…

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 — that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

It goes on from there at some length, but that’s the nut for the purposes of this discussion.

I don’t think you can have a clearer statement of original intent. So, when it comes to interpreting the Constitution, or surveying the limits that law places on what government may do, one must surely acknowledge that, pre-existing the federation call the United States, all people have a right to life and to liberty.

(The original original intent, I’m told, was that the third enumerate should be property, and that was changed in committee — which should tell you the value of committees. If the original had been let stand, we might have had a more vigorous defense of the right to property in Kelo. Or not. I’m just sayin’s all.)

The Constitution, in part (the Ninth Amendment), states that…

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The text would seem to permit one to assume that the right to life is enshrined in the Constitution and that, while not granted there, it is certainly protected there. It is not enumerated, such as is the right to keep and bear arms, but is, by implication if nothing else, acknowledged.

18 U.S.C. Sec 241 reads:

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured – They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Source, the U.S. House of Representatives
I have removed line breaks.

Essentially, if you violate someone’s enumerated civil rights, they can make a Federal case out of it.

Incidentally, that includes Second Amendment rights. That sign you have outside your business? The one that says weapons are forbidden? It’s a violation of civil rights and makes you liable for prosecution. And please note the death penalty provision in the above-quoted statute.

What’s that? You say that the Constitution is a limit on the powers of government? Well, of course. But the government is not the only party capable of violating the rights of the people. And to sanction one but not others is to leave the citizen open to — what’s that phrase? An endless train of Injuries and Usurpations. Further, while the First Amendment is specifically a limit on Congress, as the sole legislative authority of the Federal government, all the rest of the Bill of Rights speak of no actor and are general and absolute proscriptions or grants without limit. These are to protect the rights of the individual citizen against all comers. Not just the government.

So, my take is that, far from being the solely duty of volunteer groups of civil attorneys (although they’re welcome to join in), as Joe suggests, the prosecution and punishment of government officials and others in positions of public trust for malfeasance in the matter of public shootings of defenseless persons is also the duty and responsibility of officers of the government.

In the service of — as the Declaration above quoted puts it — securing these rights.

And that failure to do so amounts to, in my mind, joining in the conspiracy.

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