The Dialethic Right

Two things conservatives like to say:

Our constitutional rights aren’t granted to us by government. Our rights come from God, and the Constitution simply recognises them.

Illegal immigrants and terrorist suspects don’t have constitutional rights because they’re not American citizens.

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50 Responses to The Dialethic Right

  1. Brainpolice April 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    MSIE 7.0 Windows Vista

    Whoopsies.

  2. Rad Geek April 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

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    It may seem to be a contradiction, but this is really a matter for dialectic.

    Thesis: Our constitutional rights aren’t granted to us by government. Our rights come from God, and the Constitution simply recognises them.

    Antithesis: Illegal immigrants and terrorist suspects don’t have constitutional rights because they’re not American citizens.

    Synthesis: Only American citizens were created equal, because God only cares about Americans.

    You might worry that this is an uncharitable reconstruction of the argument. But I think that the Synthesis does seem to be a pretty accurate representation of common American conservative views.

    • MBH April 29, 2010 at 12:25 am #

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      I think that’s literally correct.

    • Brandon April 29, 2010 at 9:58 am #

      Chromium 5.0.389.0 Linux

      For that analysis to be correct, the common conservative would have to be an extreme religious fanatic, the likes of which I have never personally met (although I’m Canadian, and we tend to regard Americans with undisguised horror).
      I listened to Limbaugh for years and I never got the sense that he was particularly religious, just someone who saw pandering to fundamentalists as par for the course.

      • Ernesto April 29, 2010 at 10:03 am #

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        Their tacit approval, even if they aren’t fundamentally religious themselves, is just as damning. To fashion oneself a typical American conservative, this synthesis would have to at least be acceptable.

      • Anon73 April 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

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        There are several kinds of horror. Undisguised horror as in a) Reagan overthrowing democratic governments, b) gang members from Chicago, or c) Paris Hilton?

        • Brandon April 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

          Chromium 5.0.389.0 Linux

          I was talking about the kind of horror Kurtz is referring to at the end of Heart of Darkness.

        • Brandon April 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

          Chromium 5.0.389.0 Linux

          Actually, let me be more specific. Canadians regard Americans with stunned, appalled speechlessness, their mouths open and arms half stretched-out, as someone might regard a neighbor who uses a machine-gun to kill a fly.

      • JOR April 29, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

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        Why would they have to be an extreme religious fanatic? Someone who believes rights come from God, and God only cares about Americans (and maybe Israeli Jews) isn’t necessarily more religious than someone who thinks rights come from God, and everyone is created with equal rights, geography be damned.

        In fact I think someone could hold either belief without being particularly religiously devout. And both beliefs seem to be pretty compatible with serious religious faith.

    • Little Alex April 29, 2010 at 10:59 am #

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      America First! Right, boys?

  3. Ernesto April 29, 2010 at 8:41 am #

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    Indeed it does.

  4. apolitical April 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

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    The problem is the failure to clarify the word “rights,” because the Constitution covers both human/natural rights and civil rights. You can’t just clump them together. So…

    Our constitutional NATURAL rights aren’t granted to us by government (LIFE, LIBERTY, etc.). Our NATURAL rights come from God (OR, IF YOU’D RATHER, FROM SIMPLY BEING HUMAN), and the Constitution simply recognises them.

    Illegal immigrants and terrorist suspects don’t have constitutional CIVIL rights (VOTE, OWN LAND, etc.) because they’re not American citizens.

    Both, it can be argued, are completely correct.

    • Rad Geek April 29, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

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      apolitical,

      To “OWN LAND” is a civil not a natural right? Really? The traditional constitutional theory that conservatives claim to want to uphold has typically held the right to own and be secure in your own property is a natural right — in fact, one of the paradigmatic natural rights, alongside “LIFE” and “LIBERTY.” If you beg to differ with the view, and make basic security in one’s own property contingent on government recognition of status, well, OK, but you ought to say something about why.

      I also would suggest that it’s an odd sort of theory that would make some of the rights that warhawk conservatives wish to deny to terrorist suspects (e.g. the right NOT TO BE TORTURED, the right NOT TO BE LOCKED IN PRISON FOREVER WITHOUT CHARGES, etc.) civil rather than natural rights. In fact, the latter seems an obvious and immediate application of the natural right of liberty; nominally acknowledging the right while allowing people to be locked in prison forever without charges would make the right of liberty completely vacuous. Again, if you beg to differ with the view, OK, but you’re diverging pretty radically from what people have traditionally wanted to say about natural rights, and you ought to say something about why.

      If, on the other hand, natural rights do include the right to own land, the right not to be tortured, the right not to be locked in a cage forever without charges, etc., then it seems like that ought to substantially affect what supposedly pro-natural-rights conservatives can consistently endorse as government policy against undocumented immigrants and foreigners suspected of terrorist connections. Either the view strips down the scope of natural rights to the point of being indistinguishable from totalitarianism, or else it is inconsistent (as per Roderick), or, well, there’s always the theo-nationalist Synthesis.

      • apolitical May 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

        Firefox 2.0.0.20 MacIntosh

        I apologize; there was a vital omission on my part. My comment about owning land being a civil right should have been clarified with “owning land in America.” An individual does not have the right to own land in a State in which they are not a citizen (although, I should mention, that just because it’s not a right, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or shouldn’t ever happen).

        Someone who is not an American citizen does, in fact, have the right to own land in America. Right to property is one of those inalienable rights mentioned in the Federalist papers (although that exact phrase didn’t make it into the Constitution).

        The crux of my original point is this:

        Natural rights are those which exist regardless of citizenship, nationality, race, gender, etc. — like ownership/property, not being locked in a cage your whole life, not being tortured, etc.

        Civil rights are (depending on your point of view) guaranteed, protected or enforced BY citizens and their government in order to protect citizens FROM their government — voting, speedy trial (which, can also be considered a human right; there’s obviously some overlap), etc.

        As for your statement, “…it seems like that ought to substantially affect what supposedly pro-natural-rights conservatives can consistently endorse as government policy against undocumented immigrants and foreigners suspected of terrorist connections,” I feel zero responsibility to defend the actions of a stereotyped, pigeonholed group (conservatives) which I have no affiliation with and pledge no allegiance to.

        Illegal immigrants and foreign terrorists do not share the same civil rights as American citizens. This doesn’t mean we should torture them, throw them in prison forever, or not treat them as people. The reason? Because even though they’re not American, they still have human/natural rights.

      • Roderick May 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

        Firefox 3.0.19.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows XP

        First, these two claims still seem to contradict each other:

        1. An individual does not have the right to own land in a State in which they are not a citizen.

        2. Someone who is not an American citizen does, in fact, have the right to own land in America.

        At first I thought the way to solve the contradiction was to take you to be referring to natural rights in the first sentence and civil rights in the second. But then you immediately go on to say:

        3. Right to property is one of those inalienable rights mentioned in the Federalist papers

        It sounds like you’re offering (3) as a reason for believing (2), which would imply that (2) is talking about natural rights after all. So I’m not sure what you mean. (Incidentally there is no reference to “inalienable rights” [or “unalienable rights” either] in either the Federalist Papers or the Constitution.)

        In any case, if there is a natural right to own land — a right that precedes the formation of governments — then it is an unrestricted right to acquire land anywhere, and I do not see how an American government to whose authority a Mexican, say, has never consented could take away the Mexican’s natural right to acquire land in America. Even if I thought Americans had consented to the u.s. government (which I don’t), Mexicans certainly haven’t.

        • apolitical May 6, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

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          Where is the “embarrassed” emoticon?

          That second part should have read, “Someone who is an American citizen does, in fact, have the right to own land in America.”

          Also, I am aware the phrase “unalienable rights” ([sic] inalienable from earlier) is in the Declaration of Independence. The idea, however, is not unique to that document.

          But if I may try to expand on your comment:

          The right to own any kind property is a natural right. However, their is no natural right concerning how to acquire said property. So while I may have a right to own the land, there may be standing rules (democratic rules, tribal rules, house rules, etc.) as to how to get that land. I would be subject to the law of the land in obtaining the property, and may be unable to do so depending on circumstances (like, for instance, not having any money).

        • Roderick May 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

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          The right to own any kind property is a natural right. However, their is no natural right concerning how to acquire said property

          How could there be a natural right to acquire land if natural rights had nothing to say about how to do so?

          Suppose I’m in a state of nature; no government has been established. I want to acquire a legitimate claim to some land. May I do so? “Absolutely!” says the law of nature. Okay, says I, what do I need to do to acquire such a legitimate claim? “No clue,” says the law of nature. If that’s right, it begins to look a bit like Kafka’s Law.

          If there’s a natural right to acquire land, there must be a means of doing so that’s authorised by natural rights. Why isn’t homesteading, in a broadly Lockean sense, the means of acquiring initially unowned land? And why isn’t mutually consensual exchange the means of acquiring owned land?

          I don’t deny that the precise contours of what counts as homesteading and what precisely it gets you, etc., may have to be precisified by convention. But it’s a long way from saying that to saying that some group of people calling themselves a government can simply stipulate that some patch of land, either unowned or currently unowned by someone who isn’t them, falls under their “authority” in such a way that foreigners’ natural rights to acquire it are completely nullified.

          A natural right whose exercise can legitimately be completely forbidden to you by someone’s arbitrary say-so is no right at all.

  5. dukemeiser April 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    Safari MacIntosh

    God’s rights don’t include access to other people’s money.

    You’re only generalizing the definition of rights to make your point.

    • Joe April 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

      Firefox 3.6.3GTB6 Windows 7

      Bingo. All constitutional rights are not natural rights, but the original post lumps them all together. One would think that a professor at Auburn would get the distinction.

      • Rad Geek April 29, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

        Firefox 3.6.3 Ubuntu 10.04

        Joe,

        Do you think that the right not to be tortured by the government or the right not to be locked in a cage forever without charges are “not natural rights”? If those don’t qualify, what the hell do you think DOES?

        • Anon73 April 29, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

          Firefox 3.6.3 Windows XP

          I suppose if your conception of “civil rights” includes the government’s sole authority to determine who should be put into cages and how they should be treated, then they wouldn’t be natural rights…

        • dukemeiser April 29, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

          Safari MacIntosh

          You’re right. Let’s turn them loose and see what happens. Maybe they could come stay at your house for a while?

        • apolitical May 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

          Firefox 2.0.0.20 MacIntosh

          The civil right is the right to a speedy trial, the right to an attorney, etc. If I live in outer Mongolia (even as a Mongolian) I may not have those rights. Their government may not guarantee those civil rights.

          However, regardless of when and where I am being charged with a crime, and regardless of my citizenship, I still have the right to be treated like a human being, not tortured, etc. And while those human rights have, throughout history, been infringed, that should never happen in modern America.

        • Roderick May 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

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          Why isn’t the right to a speedy trial a natural right?

        • apolitical May 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

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          Because there’s nothing inherently correct about having a trial quickly. A speedy trial is the application of the natural right, which is to not be incarcerated for unreasonable periods of time (a.k.a. liberty/freedom).

          A lengthy trial would (and often is) totally fine, especially if the accused is not in prison (given the assumption they are committing no new crimes, are not a danger to anyone, etc.)

        • Roderick May 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

          Firefox 3.0.19.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows XP

          Okay, I have no problem with natural rights being made more specific by human convention. (I don’t think it’s legitimate for the state to be the one determining those conventions, but that’s another issue.)

    • Rad Geek April 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

      Firefox 3.6.3 Ubuntu 10.04

      dukemeiser: God’s rights don’t include access to other people’s money.

      I agree.

      So what’s that got to do with the rights of suspected terrorists or undocumented immigrants? Did you think that expecting not to be tortured, not to be locked in a cage forever without charges, not to be stopped at government checkpoints for the “Ihre Papiere, bitte” treatment, or not to be rousted out of your home and disappeared into some hellhole detention center, is somehow a matter of expecting “access to other people’s money”? If so, how?

      • dukemeiser April 29, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

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        Where the hell did we go from ILLEGAL ALIENS (undocumented immigrants…ha don’t make me laugh!) to Islamic terrorists?

        Anyway the original discussion was about illegal aliens. And it has everything to do with other people’s money. MY money as a taxpayer. When illegal aliens come to America and take advantage of our social safety net. They use the emergency rooms at no cost to themselves, which then gets cost shifted to other hospital patrons who DO have insurance. They have children and apply for medicaid for their “citizen child” (just being born here doesn’t make you a citizen but that’s another discussion). Sleazy employers hire them below minimum wage and work them overtime degrading their standard of living to the point where they can’t afford health insurance (hence the ER), or auto insurance (so if one of them hits you, you’re screwed). And because they are plentiful there is no competition from American workers at a fair wage.

        As for Islamic terrorists, did you expect for planes to be hijacked on 9/11? That thousands of American lives would be lost in one day? That civilians (not just Americans) would be abducted and beheaded in front of a video camera? To expect a fellow soldier to walk into Fort Hood and kill innocent servicemen and women in the name of Allah? Did we expect them to send women and children strapped with explosives into crowded areas? We have to play be the rules even though they don’t?

        • Jayson Virissimo April 29, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

          Firefox 3.6.3.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows Vista

          But those who are born here (citizens) take advantage of the “social safety net”, use emergency rooms for free, have children, and apply for medicaid. These all come out of your “tax money”. Are you also against new births taking place in the US?

        • dukemeiser April 30, 2010 at 5:33 am #

          Safari MacIntosh

          If you can’t afford to have children, you probably shouldn’t have children. Pretty simple eh?

        • James April 30, 2010 at 7:24 am #

          MSIE 6.0 Windows 2000

          “Where the hell did we go from ILLEGAL ALIENS…to Islamic terrorists?”

          Umm the OP,

          “terrorist suspects don’t have constitutional rights”

          “MY money as a taxpayer. When illegal aliens come to America and take advantage of our social safety net.”

          That’s true and it’s certainly unjust. However it has nothing to do with illegal immigrants. Theft is theft regardless of who is doing it (unless for some reason it’s ok for an american to do it). Secondly there’s a clear issue with proportionality here. It simply does not follow that by accepting welfare you forfeit all your inalienable rights.

          “As for Islamic terrorists, did you expect for planes to be hijacked on 9/11? That thousands of American lives would be lost in one day? That civilians (not just Americans) would be abducted and beheaded in front of a video camera? To expect a fellow soldier to walk into Fort Hood and kill innocent servicemen and women in the name of Allah? Did we expect them to send women and children strapped with explosives into crowded areas? We have to play be the rules even though they don’t?”

          I’m not sure what your point is here. No, no one saw the attacks coming or that it would lead to various atrocities. So what? How do you get from that statement to SUSPECTS have no rights. Surely in the case where rights are potentially going to be violated the burden of proof is on the one doing the violating not the victim. At the very least they should recieve a HUGE sum of money to compensate them if they are found innocent, would you be happy with that arrangement? As far as I can see talking about “we” and “they” is an extremely over-simplified generalisation, especially when discussing individual rights, but yes “we” have to play fair because if the right response to injustice is to commit more injustice back then both sides ought to continue retaliating into infinity.

        • Rad Geek April 30, 2010 at 10:42 am #

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          dukemeiser:

          Where the hell did we go from ILLEGAL ALIENS … to Islamic terrorists? Anyway the original discussion was about illegal aliens.

          You’re mistaken. Here’s a quotation from the original post:

          Two things conservatives like to say: … (2) Illegal immigrants and terrorist suspects don’t have constitutional rights …

          dukemeiser:

          And it has everything to do with other people’s money. MY money as a taxpayer. When illegal aliens come to America and take advantage of our social safety net.

          That sounds like a problem with the “social safety net.” Not a problem with undocumented immigration. In any case, the “rights” that American conservatives typically want to deny to undocumented immigrants go way beyond access to the welfare state. If the proposal were merely “undocumented immigrants don’t have a right to get money through welfare state programs,” I would have a problem with that. I don’t think anyone has a right to get money through welfare state programs. I’m rather more concerned about claims that undocumented immigrants don’t have the right to be left the hell alone in their own homes or to work for a living with a willing employer.

          And because they are plentiful there is no competition from American workers at a fair wage.

          You know, when you go around claiming that “American workers” have a right to a “fair wage” (as determined by you), whether or not other workers are willing to compete at lower wages, and that, if those other workers would be willing to take jobs at lower wages, this is a reason to round them up and force them out of the country, that sounds a lot like you’re saying that “American workers” have a “right to access other people’s money.” My view is that nobody has a right to any wage at all; wages should be the result of free agreements in an open market, not the result of political protectionism.

          As for Islamic terrorists, did you expect for planes to be hijacked on 9/11?

          Nope. But what has any of that got to do with whether or not people have a natural right not to be tortured, or locked in prison forever without charges?

          The rest of the paragraph is just a bunch of conservative talking points about how bad terrorists are. Well, so what? If that’s supposed to be a reason for denying that people have individual natural rights not to be tortured, or not to be locked in prison forever without charges, then you can go ahead and believe that. But, again, that does seem to suggest rather strongly that you don’t believe in any meaningful set of natural God-given rights. (Because, if those rights don’t qualify, again, what the hell does?)

          We have to play be the rules even though they don’t?

          I don’t know about you, ese, but I never tortured anyone or locked anyone in prison forever without charges. Maybe you have, but if so you ought to speak only for yourself. If not, then I guess by “we” you really mean “them” — that is, the United States government. And, yes, I do believe that that government, like all governments, should be held to strict standards of respect for the rights of the individual. No matter what’s going on. If you don’t believe that, fine, but then you may as well stop pretending like you believe in God-given unalienable rights. The “unalienable” is supposed to mean something in that phrase.

        • b-psycho May 7, 2010 at 4:29 am #

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          (just being born here doesn’t make you a citizen but that’s another discussion)

          As long as you’re going to make rhetorical appeals to “The law of the land”, you could at least acknowledge the 14th Amendment…

  6. JOR April 30, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    Firefox 3.6.3.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows XP

    There’s lots of mass murderers in the world. Not just political fighters (soldiers and terrorists – but I repeat myself); ordinary thugs, serial killers, and the like. All those people not playing by the rules surely justifies me kidnapping, torturing, and killing whoever I feel like. Hey, if they don’t play by the rules, why should I?

    Point being, one of the main reasons for “the rules” that are being ignored is to make sure that the “them” that “we” are detaining or killing or otherwise neutralizing are in fact the “them” that actually does all that bad stuff “we” are trying to put a stop to in the first place. Another point of (some, legitimate) rules is that it’s stuff you’re obligated to do (or refrain from doing) just because it’s the right (or wrong) thing to do, no matter whether everyone else does it or not. Stuff like, you know, killing or imprisoning people who aren’t guilty of hurting or threatening anyone (that they don’t have a right to hurt or threaten; people whose only “crime” is violently resisting uniformed gangsters deserve medals, not indefinite detention).

  7. memeily April 30, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Firefox 3.5.9 MacIntosh

    Ah! I think this is a very interesting discussion. I am not alarmed by immigration, and I think the process should be easier and clearer. However, I think the average conservative is concerned about *illegal* immigration: in the instances where that is true, the immigrant has violated a law. Is it a good law? Maybe not. But it exists right now.

    The concern I have about the vehemence attached to “punishing” illegal immigrants is that, in its fury, it also punishes legal immigrants. The same applies to terrorist suspects. Terrorists forfeit their rights. Terrorist suspects should retain their rights until convicted.

    It seems that broad, blanketing laws or practices that tend to root out illegal activity by including people of a certain race or background is meant to appease irrational fears. Regardless of where one believes rights from from, casting a wide net to gather up the bad people makes for an “easy” solution to a monumentally complex problem. The only benefit is comfort. This broad condemnation is neither effective nor Constitutional.

    • Mike D. April 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

      Firefox 3.6.3 MacIntosh

      Oh hai there. We’re anarchists here. Nice to meet you.

  8. Jerrac May 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

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    The Constitution acknowledges the rights we have, or should have, simply because we are alive. If you believe in God, then those rights come from God. The Constitution was created to protect us from governments that want to take away those rights.

    Illegal immigrants are breaking the law. Thus, they have forfeited their rights, other than whatever rights we have given criminals.

    Terrorists are enemy combatants that deliberately target non-combatants. They have no rights, they gave them up when they decided to murder innocents. The only reason they shouldn’t be executed as soon as they are caught, is because we are better than they are. And we want to ensure that even scum get justice.

    Basically, rights are something you have by default, but if you decide to, you can give them up. That’s why the two statements in the original post are not contradictory.

    Terrorist suspects should be treated differently depending on what the circumstances are. If they are not confirmed terrorists, then they should not be imprisoned forever.

    My understanding of how torture has been used, is that it was the absolute last resort. And it was used very little. It also resulted in intel that has likely save hundreds of lives.

    That said, I’m not sure the moral cost of using torture is worth it. The only time I would even consider using it is when lives are in immediate danger, the terrorist definitely knows the intel needed, and there is no other way to get the intel in time to save those lives.

    As for immigration, we need to enforce the current laws so that we can keep the dangerous criminals out of our country. Then we need to reform the laws so that the immigrants who are good, decent people that would enrich our culture and country, can get in easier.

    btw, what does ‘dialethic’ mean? Dictionary.com couldn’t find it. I’m assuming it’s something having dual ethics.

    • Roderick May 1, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

      Safari MacIntosh

      The Constitution acknowledges the rights we have, or should have, simply because we are alive.

      So you say. But if you really believe that, then you’re committed to thinking that all people have those rights, whether they’re American citizens or not.

      Yet you immediately go on to say:

      Illegal immigrants are breaking the law. Thus, they have forfeited their rights

      But the question is: are they breaking a just law? If your answer is yes, then you apparently think that some rights, like freedom of movement and freedom from arbitrary search and seizure, only belong to Americans citizens and not to everyone. Evidently, then, those rights are not among the “rights we have, or should have, simply because we are alive.”

      Terrorists are enemy combatants that deliberately target non-combatants. They have no rights

      Well, according to the Constitution, people accused of a crime have a right to a trial before being assumed guilty; and people who have been found guilty have various rights too, such as the right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punshment. So if you think those rights don’t apply to some people, then once again you seem to think Constitutional rights are grants from government rather than “rights we have, or should have, simply because we are alive.”

      So if these most basic Constitutional rights turn out, according to you, NOT to be among the “rights we have, or should have, simply because we are alive,” then which Constitutional rights are, according to you, the “rights we have, or should have, simply because we are alive”?

      As for immigration, we need to enforce the current laws so that we can keep the dangerous criminals out of our country.

      Do you think that we should deport American citizens who belong to groups associated with high crimes rates, even if those citizens themselves haven’t hurt anyone themselves? If not, then you think American citizens have some sort of rights that foreigners don’t. So what’s the basis of that difference in rights? It doesn’t seem to square with the idea of “rights we have, or should have, simply because we are alive.”

      btw, what does ‘dialethic’ mean?

      See this.

      • Jerrac May 2, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

        Unknown Ubuntu 9.10

        Ok, so my post wasn’t very well written. Let’s try again, and address some of the points you made.

        Our constitutional rights aren’t granted to us by government. Our rights come from God, and the Constitution simply recognizes them.

        True, but not all rights are from God. Some, like the right to bear arms, are made up by humans because they help establish a strong, peaceful, society.

        Illegal immigrants and terrorist suspects don’t have constitutional rights because they’re not American citizens.

        True, in what Conservatives actually mean when they say that. Saying it that way is not the best way to say it. I would say: The rights of non-Citizens are not protected under the United States Constitution. The US Government has the responsibility of acting in the interests of it’s citizens. Thus, when dealing with non-Citizens who break the law, the Government is not legally obligated to treat them as if they were Citizens. That is why those two statements are not contradictory.

        But the question is: are they breaking a just law?

        Who decides what is a ‘just’ law? The tax code is one of the most unjust laws in our country, does that give me the right to stop paying my taxes? The speed limit on many highways is way to low, yet if I’m pulled over for speeding, I still have to pay the ticket.

        Illegal Immigrants are breaking the law. If I have to pay my taxes and speeding tickets, they have to immigrate legally. The law should be enforced equally. Especially when some immigrants are dangerous criminals that would not have gotten into our country and put myself and my family in danger if the law was enforced correctly. Plus the fact that immigrants contribute to the lack of jobs available.

        How the law is enforced is debatable. I say start enforcing the current law, however ‘bad’ it might be. At the same time, start reforming it so that everyone, immigrants included, benefits. Enforcing the current law includes treating everyone innocent until proven guilty. Thus, no random stopping of someone just because they might be an illegal immigrant.

        Do you think that we should deport American citizens who belong to groups associated with high crimes rates, even if those citizens themselves haven’t hurt anyone themselves?

        See above, no illegal immigrant is innocent. Just by being on US soil, they are breaking the law. The law should be enforced on them, just the same way it is on you and me.

        Well, according to the Constitution, people accused of a crime have a right to a trial before being assumed guilty; and people who have been found guilty have various rights too, such as the right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment.

        Again, I didn’t write my post well enough, hence why I’ve taken so long to reply, I’m making sure I write better than my first post.

        You are right, we should give criminals trials. However, the kind of trial a terrorist should get is debatable. I know that if we held regular trials for some of them, information that other terrorists could use against us would be made public. Hence why the Government should not treat terrorists that way. That’s also why I don’t consider terrorists to have rights protected by the Constitution. I could be wrong, I haven’t researched this thoroughly enough, Physics exams take priority right now.

        The main point of conflict in our viewpoints, is what a ‘right’ is. I’m currently figuring out how to explain what I mean by a ‘right’. I haven’t gotten it quite well defined enough to write down yet. So, perhaps, I should have kept my fingers off the keyboard in this discussion. I just wanted to point out that the OP was wrong in implying that those statements were contradictory.

        • Roderick May 3, 2010 at 11:23 am #

          Safari MacIntosh

          not all rights are from God. Some, like the right to bear arms, are made up by humans because they help establish a strong, peaceful, society.

          So the right to self-defense is not a natural right? I have a hard time seeing how any rights could be natural rights if that one isn’t.

          The rights of non-Citizens are not protected under the United States Constitution.

          While I would disagree with you about how to interpret the Constitution, say for argument’s sake that you’re right. We can still ask whether noncitizens have (natural) rights. If they do, then it’s morally forbidden for government to violate them, be those rights explicitly protected in the Constitution or not.

          when dealing with non-Citizens who break the law, the Government is not legally obligated to treat them as if they were Citizens.

          Again: most references to rights in the Constitution say nothing about a limitation to citizens, but never mind. Even if it were true that the government isn’t legally obligated to respect noncitizens’ rights, it would still be morally obligated to do so, because they are human beings.

          Who decides what is a ‘just’ law? The tax code is one of the most unjust laws in our country

          I guess you just answered your own question then.

          does that give me the right to stop paying my taxes?

          Of course it does.

          The speed limit on many highways is way to low, yet if I’m pulled over for speeding, I still have to pay the ticket.

          If by “have to” you mean that the government threatens you with force if you disobey, that’s true. If by “have to” you mean a moral oligation, then no — there is no moral obligation to obey an unjust law. (In fact, strictly speaking an unjust law is not a law at all — but that’s another issue.)

          If I have to pay my taxes and speeding tickets, they have to immigrate legally. The law should be enforced equally.

          So if a gang of thugs walks into a bar and beats up half the customers, then starts to leave, you would yell out: “Stop! Come back here and beat up the rest of us too! We should all be victimised equally”? Why would you want to increase the amount of injustice in the world?

          Especially when some immigrants are dangerous criminals that would not have gotten into our country and put myself and my family in danger if the law was enforced correctly.

          Because some immigrants are dangerous, we should deport them all? Well, some native citizens are dangerous too; why doesn’t your logic apply to them?

          Plus the fact that immigrants contribute to the lack of jobs available.

          Every new native citizen that’s born is a potential competitor for jobs also. Why doesn’t your logic apply to them?

          I say start enforcing the current law, however ‘bad’ it might be. At the same time, start reforming it

          Jawohl, mein Führer. Ve shall continue to round up tze Jews and ship tzem to Auschwitz, however bad tzis might be, but ve shall at tze same time vork to reform tze law, howeffer long tzis might take. If tzere are any Jews left alife vuntz ve haff reformed tze law, tzey vill benefit enormously.

          See above, no illegal immigrant is innocent. Just by being on US soil, they are breaking the law.

          By that logic, no Jew was innocent in Nazi Germany.

          You are right, we should give criminals trials. However, the kind of trial a terrorist should get is debatable.

          But before we try them, how are we entitled to declare that they are terrorist? If we don’t need a trial to determine whether someone is a terrorist — if we have some magical non-judicial means of determining guilt — why do we ever try suspects at all? Why not just eliminate the entire court system and save a lot of needless expense?

          Moreover, if terrorists don’t have a right to a trial, then the right to a trial isn’t a natural right (according to you), just as the right to bear arms isn’t a natural right (according to you), and the right to move around freely isn’t a natural right (according to you). So I’m still waiting to find out which rights ARE the rights we have just in virtue of being alive? What the heck is left?

          I just wanted to point out that the OP was wrong in implying that those statements were contradictory.

          But everything you’ve been saying only reinforces the point of the original post. Your arguments are a perfect example of what I was talking about. You’ve paid lip service to the idea that we have some natural rights — rights that depend merely on our status as persons and not on governmental convention — but every time you consider a particular case of a right you always turn out to treat it as a governmental convention. So I ask again: please name just ONE right that you think is a natural human right that is possessed by all human beings, be they immigrants or suspected terrorists.

        • James May 4, 2010 at 5:01 am #

          MSIE 6.0 Windows 2000

          “Plus the fact that immigrants contribute to the lack of jobs available.”

          This assumes capital can’t be moved and that capitalists wont respond to intervention. They are still competing for our jobs when they are living abroad, think outsourcing. Are excess workers really worse than a shortage of capital (most likely followed by a shortage of jobs)? Especially if that capital is being allocated away from market demand.

        • apolitical May 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

          Firefox 2.0.0.20 MacIntosh

          If I may chime in here (and I’m sorry, this comment is intended to be a reply to the posts below it),

          The right to bear arms and the right to self-defense are two totally different rights and it’s unfair to clump them together. In a world where guns were never invented (or in a time before they were invented), we would still have the right to self-defense — because self-defense is a natural right and owning a gun is a civil right.

          Secondly, (and Godwin’s Law aside), everyone (Jew or otherwise) in Germany illegally during WWII was, in fact, breaking the law. And everyone (Jew or otherwise) who broke any law would be subject to German law. In other words, no guilty criminal was innocent.

          Now, did the punishment fit the crime? No. Were natural rights infringed? Yes. But is the enforcing of a law a wholly different issue than the distinction between natural and civil rights? Absolutely.

        • JOR May 10, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

          Firefox 3.6.3.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows XP

          But “enforcing a law” is merely a type of human action; it’s just A using violence or the threat thereof to make B do something A (or A’s employer, C) wants B to do, or prevent B doing something unwanted.

          Like any other kind of human action, enforcing a law in a particular instance is something that’s either justified or unjustified. If enforcing some particular law in some particular way is a violation of rights, it’s unjustified; i.e. resisting or evading attempts at such enforcement is justified.

        • Roderick May 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

          Firefox 3.0.19.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows XP

          The right to bear arms and the right to self-defense are two totally different rights and it’s unfair to clump them together. In a world where guns were never invented (or in a time before they were invented), we would still have the right to self-defense — because self-defense is a natural right and owning a gun is a civil right.

          I’d say that before guns were invented there was already a natural right to own guns (otherwise no one could legitimately have invented the first one), just as a sugar cube is soluble in water long before it ever encounters water.

          But in any case, the right to bear arms is at least the natural right to use whatever kinds of defensive weapons exist. (The “right to bear arms” makes no limitation to guns.) Which weapons in fact exist depends on historical circumstances, but it doesn’t depend on civil legislation. So, yes, the right to own guns is a natural right. (Otherwise one could argue that there’s no natural right of self-defense either, since one can’t engage in self-defense in a world where nobody is currently attacking anybody.)

          In any case, what good would a natural right to self-defense be if the right to use any and all particular defensive weapons defended on the government’s say-so? “You have a natural right to food, but the government can legitimately deny you the right to eat fruits, and the right to eat meat, and the right to eat vegetables, and the right to eat fish, and the right to eat grains, and …”

          I don’t understand the rest of your comment. If a law is unjust, it shouldn’t be enforced, and no one is under any moral obligation to obey it. Do you agree or disagree with that?

  9. Brandon May 3, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Chromium 5.0.391.0 Linux

    Who decides what is a ‘just’ law?

    Any law that falls outside the non-aggression principle is unjust at the very least, but the state itself is an unjustifiable entity which should not have any legal authority.

    The tax code is one of the most unjust laws in our country, does that give me the right to stop paying my taxes? The speed limit on many highways is way to low, yet if I’m pulled over for speeding, I still have to pay the ticket.

    You’re talking about two different things here. One, you have the right to defy any law that falls outside the NAP, two, you may not get away with it. Ask Irving Schiff. But the former has nothing to do with the latter. You have the right to defy an unjust law, even though you may get caught.

    Illegal Immigrants are breaking the law. If I have to pay my taxes and speeding tickets, they have to immigrate legally. The law should be enforced equally. Especially when some immigrants are dangerous criminals that would not have gotten into our country and put myself and my family in danger if the law was enforced correctly. Plus the fact that immigrants contribute to the lack of jobs available.

    You started off by arguing that every law is just because it is a law, then you moved into arguing the merits of this particular law. The real issue for you is not that “illegal immigrants” are breaking the law, but that they are breaking a law you agree with. So is it that a law should be enforced no matter its moral or ethical implications, or that you agree with this particular law and want to see it enforced?

  10. Jim H. May 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    Safari MacIntosh

    Your first premise does not fully represent conservative views; in fact, it is not accurate at all. Take Antonin Scalia and strict Constitutional constructionism. I blogged a jurisprudential post in celebration last year of Independence Day on this very topic. If a right is not explicitly enumerated in the ‘Bill of Rights’—say the right to privacy which provided the legal basis for Roe v. Wade—it does not exist, at least for Americans who want to assert it to a sitting conservative judge.
    http://wisdomofthewest.blogspot.com/2009/07/independence-day.html

    Of course, my criticism falls away if we acknowledge the foundational contradiction in conservative thought: selfishness works best for everyone’s benefit.

    Best,
    Jim H.

    • Roderick May 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

      Firefox 3.0.19.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows XP

      Well, yes, conservatives say that; but they also say the thing I’ve quoted as well. Often with a few sentences of each other.

  11. Jim H. May 3, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    Safari MacIntosh

    I agree that conservatives voice the latter proposition w/r/t immigrants and their rights. And that position is entirely consistent with Scalia et alia’s conservative jurisprudence.

    The tyrannistic tendencies of conservativism, I believe, are beyond cavil. And though kings and true and legitimate ‘leaders’ (e.g., Reagan, Thatcher, Bush fils) may have a divine right to rule ad lib (true individualism only applying to the Randian ‘great man’), the subjects of such rule must accept their lowly place in the regime as determined by the laws established and chosen to be enforced by the power elite.

    Best,
    Jim H.

  12. Jim H. May 3, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    Safari MacIntosh

    Perhaps ‘authoritarian’ would be a better word than ‘tyrannistic’ in my previous comment.

    If the proles were allowed to believe their rights came from god and not from the rule of their ruler, they might get all uppity and challenge the true authority.

    I’m glad to have discovered your thought-provoking blog.

    Best (from the ATL),
    Jim H.

  13. b-psycho May 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Firefox 3.6.3.NETCLR3.5.30729 Windows Vista

    Actually, many on the Right don’t even think CITIZENS that are suspected of terrorism have rights. Check out what they’re already saying about the suspect in the Times Square car bomb case…

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