While doing some research on another article I came across a poll performed by Rasumussen Reports that has convinced me that we my be past the point of no return on Civil Liberties in this country. It seems that more than 51% of Americans say that security is more important than privacy.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans say that Security is more important than privacy. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 29% disagree and say privacy is more important. Twenty percent (20%) are not sure.
The survey also found public support for strict rules regarding identification needed to obtain drivers’ licenses. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say it is a good idea for the federal government to establish such rules, while only 17% disagree.
It is one of the saddest stories I’ve read for a while. I have been feeling over the years that more and more people were taking their individual freedoms for granted. And while I understood a temporary feeling like this to be prevalent after 9/11, unfortunately, I never thought it would have lasted this long.
But here we have the bad news. Over 200 years ago several men and women put their lives on the line to provide a new type governing citizens of a country. One that understood that rights were not negotiated with the rulers of the country but retained by the individuals. Unlike the other countries at the time, who had documents that listed what rights the citizens retained, the Constitution was designed to be a document of what constraints the government could operate within.
Now, because of fear, jealousy, hatred and misplaced social justice, the citizens who have inherited this view of governing are ready to throw it away.
Privacy is a specifically easy right to lose. Without understanding that the Constitution is a document of governmental powers, not a listing of rights retained by the citizenry, it becomes easier to lose those natural rights that we have but are not listed out specifically, much like the right to privacy. The 9th amendment was written to solve this concern, but years of constant ever-increasing infringement, accepted to by a pliable citizenry and a now government controlled educational system, has rendered one of the more important aspects of our Constitution effectively moot.
Privacy has its root at the very center of our lives. As we know, knowledge is power. And as those who crave power learned long long ago, coupled with a legal use of force that government enjoys, knowledge of a person is power of that person.
Jefferson very wisely stated:
There are rights which it is useless to surrender to the government and which governments have yet always been found to invade. These are the rights of thinking and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing; the right of free commerce; the right of personal freedom. There are instruments for administering the government so peculiarly trustworthy that we should never leave the legislature at liberty to change them.
Surprisingly enough, Thom Hartmann at commondreams.org actually gets it right while arguing against Justice Thomas’ lack of finding a Right to Privacy in our Constitution.
In his dissent in the Texas sodomy case, Thomas wrote, “just like Justice Stewart, I ‘can find [neither in the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution a] general right of privacy,’ or as the Court terms it today, the ‘liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.’”
Echoing Thomas’ so-called conservative perspective, Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program on June 27, 2003, “There is no right to privacy specifically enumerated in the Constitution.” Jerry Falwell similarly agreed on Fox News.
Limbaugh and Thomas may soon also point out to us that the Constitution doesn’t specifically grant a right to marry, and thus license that function exclusively to, say, Falwell. The Constitution doesn’t grant a right to eat, or to read, or to have children. Yet do we doubt these are rights we hold?
The simple reality is that there are many “rights” that are not specified in the Constitution, but which we daily enjoy and cannot be taken away from us by the government. But if that’s the case, Bush and Thomas would say, why doesn’t the Constitution list those rights in the Bill of Rights?
The reason is simple: the Constitution wasn’t written as a vehicle to grant us rights. We don’t derive our rights from the constitution.
Rather, in the minds of the Founders, human rights are inalienable – inseparable – from humans themselves. We are born with rights by simple fact of existence, as defined by John Locke and written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” the Founders wrote. Humans are “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights….” These rights are clear and obvious, the Founders repeatedly said. They belong to us from birth, as opposed to something the Constitution must hand to us, and are more ancient than any government.
The job of the Constitution was to define a legal framework within which government and business could operate in a manner least intrusive to “We, The People,” who are the holders of the rights. In its first draft it didn’t even have a Bill of Rights, because the Framers felt it wasn’t necessary to state out loud that human rights came from something greater, larger, and older than government. They all knew this; it was simply obvious.
It’s not as obvious anymore, it seems.
Those would ‘lead’ us have almost all, at some point in the past, attempted to restrict our rights, especially the right to privacy specifically. And this is why is must be safeguarded not just for now in the case of this administration but for each and every administration that comes after.