Sometimes I wonder if anyone knows the difference between the terms rights and power as it is used when discussing the people's relationship to government these days. Do you? I think I know the difference and I'd like to share.
People and groups who want more from society and feel they need leverage always use the term "rights" when describing their issue, and always using it incorrectly. This misuse of terminology confuses the issues and allows what would otherwise be dismissed out of hand, now are considered for action by serious minded scholars, political leaders, activists, and judges, along with all of their sycophants falling in line.
In this country people do have rights - protected rights. We Americans revel in our personal freedoms and the exercise our constitutionally protected rights daily and without fear of reprisal. But that is changing. Special interest groups are defining their issues as rights when there is little proof that anyone's rights are involved. We want our rights to protect us, not to be bastardized and abused by special interest groups.
What groups? Unions for starters, who claim the "right" to hold corporations hostage for personal profit and demand government support them.
I suppose I should define what a right is and how it should been seen and used. If you read the US Declaration of Independence it says, in part,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and [certain] inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness:"What this says to me is that the protected rights, as defined in the US Constitution's Bill of Rights, do not emanate from the government. The rights are with us long before government gets involved. and their involvement is limited to protecting those rights and sometimes, under certain conditions, place limits on the exercise of those rights.
The conditions? When people violate the rights of others. This is what "protected" means. Government did not create rights. Government was created to protect rights.
Some argue that groups of people have rights, but until recently there was no law, no state or US Code that specifies any group should be afforded some right due to their group membership. Politicians have been giving certain groups power, but not rights. For instance, the government affords special protection to unions to ensure that businesses don't remove their power to organize. The legacy media will broadcast stories about labor union rights. But I would submit that the labor unions and such rights as they may claim only apply as written in their contracts between the union members and the company where they are employed. That makes it less of a right and merely a contractual relationship.
Gay groups claim a right to marry. This is profound because no one possesses a government sponsored or protected "right to marry". Individuals in the USA are free to pursue whatever pleases them with the government staying out of the way to "insure domestic Tranquility" (US Constitution preamble) as long as it does not interfere with the rights of other individuals. Government's involvement in marriage is pretty much limited to contract and common law that ensures family property considerations and settling disputes (such as property division during a divorce and inheriting (along with taxing) property). There are no protected marriage rights except when settling disputes in a court of law or through arbitration. I discuss the Gay marriage case, Proposition 8, in another post *.
Government agencies have power, but no rights. None, nix, nada, zero. Government, although comprised of people who do have rights, does not have a right to anything. No property rights, no religious rights, no 5th amendment rights, etc. It has "just power". That power is temporarily borrowed from the people for the express purpose to...
"establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."They can only exercise the power loaned to them by the people. When considering or election system, that power is only temporary for those in office. The same must be true of groups, such as unions and PAC's. Though courts have assigned rights to a type of 'group' (corporations), but those are very limited. For instance, corporations have the right no right to vote, but they do have the rights listed in Amendments 4 through 8.
A quick search will reveal the misuse of the term "rights" has been deeply ingrained in our news and educational institutions. There are examples of this maddening trend everywhere.
ABC news asks, "How Does the President Have the Right to Target for Killing a US Citizen?" It goes on to say that the ACLU "sought to challenge the White House assertion that it had the constitutional right to kill Awlaki.
Uh, no he does not. He may have the "power" to target American born terrorists (another argument), but the president does not have the right to use his powers. He has the power to use his powers..
Even PBS confuses the term with this, "Though the Constitution gave the president the right to veto bills from Congress," in a discussion of the history of the veto power of the president. (The power of the Presidency, The Veto). Again, it's not his right, but it is within his specific constitutional powers - They even say it's a power - hello.
Anyone watching National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis' testimony on O'Reilly, along with Megyn Kelly's assessment of his testimony a short time ago (National Park Service under fire for helping 'Occupy', Jan 26, 2012), witnessed yet another mischaracterization of rights vs. power. I was surprised that Ms. Kelly, a lawyer, has fallen into the trap of using the word rights when she should use the word power. He is using the power afforded him by his job.
People have rights. Government has power. People who work for the government exercise that power in the performance of their lawful duties. Protected individual rights have nothing to do with it.
So why is it important to use the correct term? The answer lies in the political nature of this country's bumper sticker politics and the sound bite news . The politicians may support some group, such as gays, and using the term "gay rights" carries much more weight among the voting public than it would by trying to sell "gay power".
Please use the proper terminology. it will move this country a long way towards the freedom loving and prosperous country that we always have been.
A discussion of rights is located (here)