Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Bible Thumping

Things have gotten out of hand. I need to remind people of Thomas Jefferson's definition of rights. Jefferson believed that each individual has certain "inalienable rights." That is, these rights exist with or without government; man cannot create, take, or give them away. It is the right of "liberty" on which Jefferson is most notable for expounding. He defines it by saying "rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. he did not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." Therefore, for Jefferson, though government cannot create a right to liberty, it can indeed violate it. And the limit of an individual's rightful liberty is not what law says it is but is simply a matter of stopping short of prohibiting other individuals from having the same liberty. A proper government, for Jefferson, is one that not only prohibits individuals in society from infringing on the liberty of other individuals, but also restrains itself from diminishing individual liberty.

Those that forget President Jefferson's instructions are doomed to be tyrants or subject to tyrants. Sic semper evello mortem Tyrannis.

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