Selective Rights

The Obama administration decided to pick a handful of fights that put our Bill of Rights at the center of the discussion. While I’m no fan of their liberty-crushing agenda, I’m always happy to have a discussion over the virtues of our founding documents and the rights they protect. 

There’s one part of this discussion though, that needs to be addressed. There’s a blanket argument bouncing its way around lefty spheres that goes something like this: 

Our Constution was written over 200 years ago.  The America of our founding fathers is not the America of today. Our founding fathers didn’t have this type of technology, so our Constitution wasn’t designed to account for it. Therefore, laws restricting your freedoms concerning the (insert amendment here) are justified.

Interestingly enough, when this argument is employed it’s always applied to the hot amendement du jour, but not the rest. Take the second amendment for example. This argument always finds its way into second amendment discussions as a way to justify restrictive laws.  But if you turn the tables and suggest this argument in the context of the first amendment, prepare yourself for wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

While there are plenty of fallacies wrapped up in this argument, what’s most concerning is the deeper suggestion that the Constitution is outdated and more laws are required to ensure a safe and civil society.  What it fails to recognize is that our Constitution has provisions to address expansion of the rights of the individual — the thirteenth, fifteenth and nineteenth amendments being prime examples. 

Our Constitution was designed to safeguard our natural rights from executive committees, task forces, Gangs of six and emotionally reactionary responses. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.” What the Constitution does provide is a private citizenry freed from the overbearing restraint of government. That the Constitution impairs swift action was intentional.

If we are looking at winning the long game, it’s crucial we find and dismantle dishonest, fallacious arguments like this one and seize the opportunity to remind our fellow Americans of the rights no government should be able to trample.