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Rights or Privileges?

Scott Ritsema | April 16 2005

To the casual student of history, one natural law of politics becomes evident. It is clearly inevitable that the powerful seek to expand their power. And, in order to do that, they must strip the liberties from their subjects. Various techniques have been applied in this process. In America, one of the primary methods of choice in expanding government power and robbing people of their rights is to re-define the God-given the rights of the citizens. Our precious liberties become privileges, and our rights become not unalienable, but subject to government overview. This is one of the most dangerous developments in America today, because when we lose the foundational, unalienable character of our liberties, then we have lost our country and we will reap the inevitable tyranny.

First, the re-defining of our rights as privileges is especially frightening. One example of this transformation surrounds the “issue” of 2nd Amendment rights. According to our rulers, the private ownership of guns is now a privilege, and since many in America have abused that, then it is the role of government to step in and regulate this misused privilege. Furthermore, freedom of speech has taken a similar hit. When we abuse our privilege to speak out against what we oppose, that privilege might well be taken away, categorized as “hate speech” and simply done away with, goodbye 1st Amendment. Next on the list would be the right to protest. Again, this is now a privilege, as was stated quite clearly by Mayor Bloomberg of New York when he said, regarding protests, “if we start to abuse our privileges, then we lose them.” Finally, freedom of religion is now a privilege. Preachers are being harassed or barred by law to speak in a manner which is not P.C.—to do otherwise would be abusing their privilege to practice religion.

Similarly, our leaders have re-defined the source of our liberties. To concur with our Founding Fathers that our rights are “endowed by our Creator” is unacceptable in the mainstream, which gives them the perfect opportunity to claim for themselves that divine role. Bill Clinton said it quite poignantly, “…we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly.” First of all, Clinton was mistaken that the Constitution “gave” anybody any freedom. The Founding Fathers believed that God did that; they simply made it the law of the land. Secondly, the subtext to Clinton’s words are that since men granted the freedom in the first place, then if we do not use it “responsibly,” men (government) can take it away.

Furthermore, this philosophical error with regards to the source of our liberties comes through when politicians discuss security and liberty. Nearly all politicians refer to seeking a “balance between liberty and security.” But, if our rights are God-given and unalienable, then government does not even have the power to take chips from the liberty side of the scale and place them on the security side.

However, they do believe they have this power and they do believe that our fundamental rights are only privileges that are subject to government oversight. They are wrong. The American people need to stand up and remind them of the facts of history and the philosophy of our founding. There is only one direction we can go, other than toward these beautiful truths, and that is toward the ugly state of tyranny.