It is said that this country is the land of the free. Although those who are venerated as the founding fathers in our history books may have shared with us their legacy of true individualism and love of natural rights, those who are in power today seek to enslave our population. Government as a institution is by its nature at odds with those rights but at one time the people held it back to some semblance of control. Now our corrupt and illegitimate senators, congressmen, justices, and presidents seek to enrich themselves at the cost of all of our freedoms.
There are many attacks on our natural rights. Judge Napolitano in the author’s note in his book, “It is Dangerous to be Right when your Government is Wrong" says,
“There is no human liberty, natural or constitutional, expressly guaranteed in the Constitution or traditionally viewed as belonging to all persons that has not been nullified by the government in America.”
In Broke, Glenn Beck compares the state of affairs in this country to the Roman Empire. He points out Rome’s excesses as a warning to show where the United States might be going.
I think an amusing quote from Beck when discussing having the government involved in our natural rights is,
“So let me get this straight… The government can’t efficiently run the Post Office, the school system, or the DMV. It can’t police our borders properly; it failed to prevent the S&L crisis, 9/11, the dot-com bubble, the housing collapse, and the credit crisis. Its IRS created a fully incomprehensible 78,000 page tax code and its Congress writes bills so long that no one has the time to read them- but I should trust it to make personal decisions for me against my will? I think I’ll pass.”
When discussing the Patriot act, which Napolitano calls the most unpatriotic of acts; he quotes Benjamin Franklin who stated, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Napolitano goes on to say that the Patriot Act is an all out assault on our civil liberties, and many of our other natural rights.
Adam Kokesh takes this a little farther. He describes how our government increases their control “The war on terror is especially dangerous because it is based on an ever-present hypothetical threat that can affect every aspect of our lives – giving governments an excuse to regulate every aspect of our lives.”
So what are our natural rights? Many people have lists and there are many different opinions. Judge Napolitano uses these,
“Our basic Human Liberties- thought, speech, press, worship, travel, privacy, association, self defense, bodily integrity, dominion over ownership of property, fairness from government, and the presumption of liberty at all times under all circumstances and in all conflicts- are the essence of humanity.”
Our government for some time has had a policy of assassination of people we do not like. Ron Paul cites an instance on February 3, 2010 when the director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair admitted to the House Intelligence committee that not only are we targeting foreign enemies but American citizens. This became clear recently. American citizen Anwar-al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in Yemen with no due process. A week later his son, who was also an American citizen and 16 years old, was assassinated by a drone strike while attending a barbeque. Our constitution is supposed to protect us against this practice, “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or confession in open Court.” (U.S. Constitution, Sect.3). These actions must end.
Our property right to our body has also been infringed upon. Adam Kokesh defines the right to self ownership in this way,
“Anything less than self-ownership is slavery. All concepts of rights come from self-ownership. Your self-ownership is the acknowledgement by others of your right to control yourself. If you do not assert control over something of value, someone else will. Without the assertion of self-ownership, there is no freedom.”
Ron Paul argues that years ago our government said they owned us by installing a draft. The government decides what can be done with you, not you, and it decides that you will fight and maybe die for a war you may or may not agree with. Paul elaborates that the ones who are owned are the poor. The rich find ways to get out of the draft. He uses the example of former Vice President Richard Cheney who received five student deferrals during Vietnam. Paul a former member of the Air Force calls Cheney a, “chicken-hawk,” because he dodged the draft yet is willing to send others to the wars he helped start. Another good example is our current president, Donald Trump, who also received several deferments.
The rights, although separate, of speech and assembly are connected because what good does the right to free speech do if you cannot share your thoughts with others, and what would it matter if you were free to get together if you could not say anything.
The First amendment says, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech” (U.S. Constitution. 1st amend). It is easy to say that we should be able to communicate with each other. The hard part is, as liberty minded people such as Andrew Napolitano argue that we must protect harmful free speech such as the bigoted wailings of Fred Phelps. Phelps is the leader of The Westboro Baptist Church which believes that God is punishing our country because we tolerate homosexuality. We must protect speech we despise continues Napolitano or the government will decide which groups, ideas, or speech is good and which is bad. By allowing the government this power we will lose the right completely.
Along with the freedom of speech comes the freedom of assembly. The first amendment also says, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the right of people to assemble” (U.S. Constitution. 1st amend). This means that we can gather to talk with each other or protest. It also implies that you can choose who or who not to associate with.
The fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. It also requires that warrants must be based upon probable cause and have an, “Oath of Affirmation,” as well as give specific description to what, who, and where a search or seizure will happen (U.S. Constitution. 4th amend). Compare that to what the TSA does in our airports and roads or to what the Patriot Act allows, or even to the new ruling in Indiana that allows the police to enter your home with nothing more than suspicion. Contained within this amendment is your right to privacy.
One of the acts of our government to remove the right to privacy is the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act allows the FBI to write warrants themselves. It also allows them to look into your personal records including financial records in section 505. Napolitano shows they can now look into to legal records and even keystrokes on your computer. All of this can be obtained with self written warrants. Judge Napolitano also gives a 2007 Justice Department Inspector General audit that showed that the self written warrants are being used in ordinary criminal investigations unrelated to national security. Conveniently the Patriot Act also guards the FBI agents against criminal prosecution for wrongdoing when they write their own warrant. Napolitano rightly asserts that this puts them above the law.
The patriot act is bad but it is not the only law being created to infringe on our right to privacy. In New York after 9/11 the New York Police Department implemented a new initiative that removes our right to privacy. Napolitano writes that this initiative was designed to place three thousand cameras all over New York to watch its citizens.
No natural right is more basic than the right to move and to travel. Napolitano feels that this seemingly basic right is constantly under attack by the Transportation Security Administration also known as the TSA. He argues that the TSA is discouraging movement by making it more and more uncomfortable to fly. As of October of 2011 the TSA is being used in Tennessee in conjunction with the Tennessee State Police to search land based vehicles randomly and encourages semi drivers to be their eyes on the road and report people who they suspect as possible terrorists on our highways. As of November of 2011 many other states are looking at implementing the TSA’s land based program.
The right to bear arms may well be the most important right of them all because it is the right to self defense which protects the rest. Quoting Thomas Jefferson Beck says, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear their government, there is tyranny.” He continues to conclude that the right to bear arms is not and never has been about defending against criminals or hunting. It was from the beginning about defending yourself and your freedom against a tyrannical government.
Kokesh as well adds to the argument saying that it is the right to property that is being assaulted. Guns just like any other property should not be arbitrarily taken from people. The government does not get to decide what you own.
The 2nd amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed” (U.S. Constitution. 2nd amend). The founders actually had close to a unanimous agreement about the right to bear arms. Napolitano writes that he studied the personal letters of the founders and the notes taken at the Constitutional Convention and that two truths became clear, one that all of the founders agreed on the right and two that it was a right given to the individual and not to any group or state. Many lawyers he continues try to argue that the founders wanted guns in the hands of a police force or something like the National Guard. They argue that this is what is meant by, “A well regulated militia.” Napolitano asserts that it is obvious in his studies that this is false. Madison in federalist 46 defines the word militia as, “citizens with arms in their hands” (Federalist, No.46)
Ron Paul says in Liberty Defined,
“Tyrants from Hitler to Mao to Stalin have sought to disarm their own citizens, for the simple reason that unarmed people are easier to control. Our founders, having just expelled the British army, knew that the right to bear arms serves as a guardian of every other right. This is the principle so often ignored by both sides in the gun control debate. Only armed citizens can ultimately resist tyrannical government.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano continues this idea with,
“In modern society, where the natural law has been perverted, we have permitted the government to monopolize violence and coercion. This has resulted in our sheep-like acceptance of the theft of property, liberty, and dignity by the government.”
All of these rights are being taken away as our government creeps closer and closer to a tyrannical model of government. These rights are important but in Liberty Defined Ron Paul asserts that we can have our civil liberties fully intact and it will not matter if the government or other entities have control of money. He goes on to say part of the reason is that the central planners will use your money as they will, and as is done in the United States now, use it to fund ever expanding federal government and unpopular unconstitutional wars. This being so we must choose liberty to guide our country forward.
We have that opportunity right now. It is time to return to those principles that great men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine fought so valiantly for. It is time once again to be the leaders of this world. We can choose to put the idea of self ownership up to a vote. Adam Kokesh is running for the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party. His platform is the peaceful and orderly dissolution of the federal government. Localization is the key to bringing the natural rights of the people back into your hands and the hands of your community. Let Freedom Ring.
Beck, G. (2009). Arguing With Idiots, New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Beck, G. (2010). Broke, New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Federalist Papers. (1787)
Kokesh, A. (2015). Freedom!
Napolitano, A. P. (2011). It is Dangerous to be Right When Government is Wrong: the Case for
Personal Freedom, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Paul, R. (2011). Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect our Freedom, New York, NY:
U.S. Constitution. (1787)
U.S. Declaration of Independence. (1776).