Tuesday, July 8, 2014
July 4th, Independence Day... the anniversary of the birth of a nation... the greatest nation to ever grace the face of Planet Terra... this grand American experiment. A birth-date subordinate only to December 25th, for Christians, and immediately superior to November 10th, the day upon which, back in 1775 at Philadelphia's Tun Tavern, figures it'd be a bar, the most elite fighting force the world's ever known was formed, it's the day we celebrate ratification by our Continental Congress of that wonderful document, our Declaration of Independence. In so doing our Home Boys officially threw down on the world's 500 pound gorilla, the supposed military super-power of the day. They'd already been revolting for over a year, but this declaration of grievances with England's King George made things official.
A list of grievances... how many of us read those grievances every once in a while? How many of us ever get past the second sentence, the one that reads; "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."? How many of us ever get past that issue of "rights," unalienable and indefeasible "rights?" How many of us truly understand the concept of "rights?"
In 1969 I was 17 years old, a '52 model with an attitude, and too young to enlist in the military without parental approval. When I said I wanted to quit high school and join the Marines, oh baby... we had to peel Mom off the ceiling. I learned the meaning of the expression "Not no, (insert string of expletives) no!" I didn't think Mom even knew some of those words. She also didn't know how strong willed, yeah strong willed is proper, her first born could be. She eventually relented, and I spent several weeks listening to sermons about consequences, even more than normal for the average teenager of the day, that once we raise our right hand and swear an oath there's no turning back without lifelong consequences.
After all the preliminaries, testing and a physical to ensure we were capable of serving, a Marine Corps Major came out to the large room we were milling around in, seated us and explained what was about to happen. He gave those of us who were volunteers an opportunity to change our minds, and a couple did. Then he had us stand, raise our right hands, and recite the following:
"I, (blah blah), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
I believe there was something about "lawful orders," but cannot document it at the moment. The My Lai massacre was front and center in the news of the day so great pains were taken to educate us about the difference between lawful and unlawful orders, a subject for another day. Anyone who's lived under the UCMJ understands how severely it restricts all those Constitutional Rights some will harp about ad infinitum. But we swore an oath to abide by those restrictions or suffer the consequences... just as all elected officials, and their appointed functionaries, upon taking their respective oaths of office.
Likewise, most organizations and groups have officer and member restrictions. There are accepted, and acceptable, rules and regulations members are expected to abide. Officers, in particular, agree to abide them simply by accepting a seat at the table. If they don't, well, those individuals must be prepared to accept the consequences for their personal actions because they did, after all, voluntarily associate themselves with that organization. Occasionally this causes a conundrum for the organization.
I use he and all its forms as a gender neutral pronoun.
Take, for example, the local Hamilton County Republican Party. There's a procedure in place, the primary process, for determining who shall be the Republican Party's candidate on the ballot for the immediately following general election. During this process the incumbent office holder agrees, by having accepted the party's nomination and support in a previous election cycle, to stand on his record before his peers in a contest of creds with all who choose to challenge him for office. The contestant the voters decide is most qualified receives the most votes, in the primary, and becomes the party's candidate for office in the subsequent final contest, the general election.
Now, say there's an elected official, a member of the governing body of the local party who sends a second, a proxy, to all governing body functions in the event he cannot attend, who decides the outcome of the primary process wasn't proper, the traditional, legally codified, and party sanctioned process used to determine who shall be the last man standing. Now say this elected official, again a member of the local party's governing body, decides to violate the party's tradition to support the voters' choice, and decides to run as a write-in candidate in the general election, against the individual the party has already determined is their candidate.
Therein lies the conundrum for The Party. "Their guy" would at that point be challenged by a member of their own governing body.
My favorite TreeHugger has exacted a promise that I'll not challenge the poor decisions and behavior of school board, and HCRP governing body, member Mrs. Thurman any more, so I won't. TreeHuggerBabe, and others, have also requested that in the event of a duel with one of my favorite English teachers I won't wait for the count of three to turn and fire... with the unstated admonishment, "And you know how you hate getting whupped by a girl." I had to remind them this is Tennessee, dueling is illegal.
This still doesn't resolve the issue facing the HCRP, does it, the issue of Mr. Fairbanks having been chosen by the voters of his district then being challenged by a member of his own party's governing board. If this is the case, with no consequences, why even have a primary race? If there's a primary race with no consequences for violations of convention, what's to keep Mr. Skillern, or any candidate who fails to prevail in a primary race, from turning right around and running as a write-in candidate in the general election? If members of the governing body aren't going to be held to account to their own rules, why even have a party? They all have rights, don't you know.
What this does, basically, is point to a misunderstanding or ignorance, perhaps ignore-ance, of the concept of rights.
In her essay Man's Rights, beginning on page 95 of her book The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand wrote; "The concept of a 'right' pertains only to action - specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men. Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive - of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights."
Applying this concept to the example above, Mr. Fairbanks has a right to run in the county general election unencumbered by competition from The Party, doesn't he. However, for a member of the party's governing board to run against him, even though he may have an individual right to do so, violates Mr. Fairbanks' absolute right not to have competition from other members of The Party. For a member of The Party's governing board to compete with Mr. Fairbanks subordinates Mr. Fairbanks' right in favor of someone who's voluntarily ceded some of his personal rights in order to participate in other activities. Correct? Any claim of right by another Party member, in this or any similar situation, especially a member of its governing board, is totally fraudulent... and the argument is lost.
Let's take some other examples that might clarify this concept.
Again from her essay Man's Rights, Ms. Rand wrote; "If some men are entitled by right to the products of the work of others, it means that those others are deprived of rights and condemned to slave labor. Any alleged 'right' of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right. No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as the 'right to enslave.' "
If an individual lives and votes in one area, and has financial interests in another, does that mean this individual has no right, nay, responsibility, to be involved in the politics where his property stands? To impose such restrictions would limit those who might be willing to invest in any locality, wouldn't it. How many Hamilton County businesses, for example, are owned, or partially owned, by non-residents? To make such an argument is fraudulent.
Let's take another of my faves... "gun nuts," in the current vernacular. Now, there's probably no greater advocate of a second amendment right than ichi wa. However, this right does not, nor can it, extend to subordinate the rights of any other citizen. The right of property ownership is, and must be, absolute if we're to have any rights at all. We may have a right to carry a weapon, a piece, hardware, things that go bang, but what right does any citizen have to pack heat in violation of the wishes of the property owner? A business is still private property. It's owned by someone, or some individuals. If their rules state there will be no weapons on the property, who is the Republican Party, the party of the rule of law, of smaller and more efficient government, the party of the rights of individuals, to institute law stating the owner must allow weapons on his property?
When I hire someone they come with full knowledge of what the job involves and what the work environment is. My property, my rules... it's sort of like when Pop said "You put your feet under my table, you'll go by my rules." Therefore, any employee has a choice to either accept the job or go elsewhere. That's the deal. Hard nosed? Perhaps. Each of us has choices.
When we use the power of a government gun to violate the rights of one citizen in deference to those of another, is anyone free?
Who's rights must be subordinated to whom?
Has the Republican Party establishment become any different than what they complain of the Democrats when they're perfectly willing to violate the rights of one citizen in order to garner votes of another, or another group, complaining about their rights being violated? Why, then, do they complain about the Democrats?
Man, these fireproof Underoos certainly are itchy...
Royce Burrage, Jr.