Our Rights

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What are our “rights” – and where do they come from?

This is the question which answers all the others.

The Bill of Rights, it is said, grants our rights. This is a horrible and dangerous idea; one all too many Americans have been bamboozled into believing. Anything which is granted can also be taken away – which of course is just what’s happened and precisely why it was so important to convince Americans that their rights are granted  . . . in order to get them to accept their being taken away.

In fact, the Bill was written specifically as a statement of fact, intended to acknowledge our inviolable rights. To put a finer point on it, to make it very crystal clear that whatever was written in the Constitution in no way obviated our rights.

These rights existed prior the scribbling of the Bill – and will exist long after it is officially “just a goddamn piece of paper.”

It is worth recounting that the Bill of Rights barely made it – was tacked on to the Constitution as a kind of sop to suspicious Virginians like George Mason. To get them to support the Constitution, or at least not oppose it too much.

Which they did, reluctantly – much to our regret.

The foundational problem goes back to before even the Declaration of 1776 – which reads gloriously but doesn’t really define the source and nature of the rights it talks about.

The concept of “rights” was never quite fleshed out – and the general understanding of them was – and still is – generally hazy. Which has led to “rights” becoming things granted rather than things which cannot rightfully be taken away.

Even at the time of the Declaration, most people had not yet formulated the question: Do each of us, by dint of the fact that we exist, have absolute sovereignty over ourselves – or not?

If we do, then it follows that no state or government has sovereignty over ourselves; that no law may be passed which infringes in the slightest way on our absolute right to do as we please with ourselves, nor take from us anything which is the result of the labor of ourselves (including the labor of our minds).

In other words, the right to liberty and property  – a far more precise elucidation than “happiness” – follows from our rightful ownership of ourselves.

Our individual and indivisible sovereignty.

Each of us co-equals in that respect only.

To violate liberty or property is to assert ownership over the self of another – and that is the very definition of slavery. The degree of slavery is as irrelevant as the degree to which a woman is pregnant.

She either is – or she is not.

If it is accepted that our self-ownership is partial to even the slightest degree – that others may rightfully assert ownership over us, to whatever degree – then the principle of slavery has been accepted and it is inevitable that, in time, it will increase in degree.

Which of course is just what’s happened.

Is it surprising?

If it is accepted that others may lawfully take even a single cent from the person who rightfully owns it, then what is to prevent them from taking a dollar?

If is accepted that others may forcibly compel another person to do as they prefer with his property, then it is no longer his property. He has become a tenant.

If it is accepted that others may interpose themselves – and their laws – between a man and those with whom he’d like to transact business and otherwise associate with (or not) according to terms and conditions mutually agreeable to the parties involved – then that man has become their servant.

One who cannot quit.

If a man is subject to being punished (i.e., held accountable) not for harms he has caused but for actions which others have decided they find unacceptable – or which they assert might cause harm – then that man is no longer free.

He is the temporary beneficiary of conditional privileges granted by others. Privileges which may be limited at their discretion and rescinded at their whim. There is a word for such a condition:


To believe it is possible to limit slavery  – which is a more accurate way to describe what is meant by the concept of “limited government” – is an idea as silly a notion as believing that pregnancy can be limited, once conception has occurred.

The “baby” will be born.

It is merely a question of when.

. . .

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  1. Rights? What rights?


    “deemed to have given consent”

    I have personally fought this ‘deemed’ language before. Registered and notarized ‘NO CONSENT’ responses to government and quasi-government corporations arbitrarily changing existing contracts, citing deemed consent.

    They ignore them. You have no fucking rights.

    • Time to find the most toxic substance you can and coat your unlocked ‘drivers license’ phone in it. Just make sure you wear gloves when handing it to the cop.

      • Some friends painted the toilet seats at the cop shop with LSD. They sat outside and watched cops leaving with weird looks on their faces.

  2. Eric, another thought provoking article, and it’s good to see your work reprinted on Lew Rockwell. You make a good point about the left being unwilling to define terms because it gives them an advantage. When two people negotiate without defining the terms the honest one is at a disadvantage to the less honest.

  3. Back when the evil duo had the country by the short hairs I accused several of my old college buds that if the shrub said they should have their first born on the curb for pickup on any day, they’d all be right there surrendering their children “for the greater good and to fight terrrororrrrismm”.

    I was disappointed nobody cussed me and called me names. Only 2 out of 8 agreed with me and one was too cowed to even step up and have an opinion. This was the same guy who said he was going to not participate in social media any longer, life was too short. What he was speaking of was our group email. I and most others didn’t participate in social media and I know I’m not the only one to never have had anything like Faciabook, Titter, or any of those messaging things.

    A female friend tried to get me to do the Snapchat thing since the messages would automatically be deleted…….but only from our phones. I declined and said I had no problem deleting my messages myself…..still don’t.

    • Hi Eight,

      “Libertarian” is a bot. It posts variations of the same generic boilerplate (no specific response to a column or someone’s comment) and then – always – at the end of the thing a link to its shyster sports channel fantasy fuuhhhhhhhttttttttttball site. I think I’ve figured out a way to relegate him to the spam dumpster.

      I wish I could arrange for a tandem trailer load of used jocks to be dumped at his house!

  4. Beautiful column Eric.
    I try to do my part namely helping my shooting buddies realize how rights work. Take the 2A for example. I always try to correct people when they say “2nd Amendment Rights,” I tell them there is no such thing. There are only rights in the absolute sense.
    They can repeal the 2nd Amendment tomorrow and our right to be armed would be unaffected, the state will take it the other way but it is important to stand fast on that.
    Taking our guns would require two additional amendments, the first one to rescind the prohibition on the state from interfering with our right to be armed (the actual purpose of 2A0 and another one to prohibit firearms, much like they needed the 18th Amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no enumerated power in the constitution that gives the Federal Government the power to regulate or prohibit firearms.

    • Thanks, Alex!

      I’ve developed a fetish for precision with words, especially when discussing political subjects. It occurred to me that perhaps the most effective tool in the tyrant’s box is the euphemism – with undefined words/hazy meanings being the next best.

      The Left understands this instinctively.

      Notice the adroit way the Left uses language – as opposed to the oafish way the Right attempts to mimic the technique.

      Libertarians/anarchists must call them both out on this odious tactic.

      • Bravo!

        Words mean things and the English language is very precise.

        NewSpeak was such a large part of 1984 for a reason.

        Remove the very words used to describe resistance to the state.

        • The 2nd Amendment works the same way. It grants no right to the people it only respects existing rights.
          Even Commiepedia admits that it’s purpose it to “protect[s] the right of the people to keep and bear arms”

          **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.

          “The right of the people” the text is clear in that it is recognizing an existing right not granting a new one. “shall not be infringed” is clear as clear can get, it is a restriction on the state.

          • Until GW Bush (whom Eric deems “The Chimp”) or any of his successors deem it a “scrap of paper”.

            For all practical purposes, the 2A doesn’t exist in Cali(porn)ia.

      • From Armstrong Economics (a site I highly recommend for libertarians to support)

        The Constitution is actually NEGATIVE. It was never drafted with an intent to provide you with rights. That seems strange because people are held by judges all the time to waive their rights. It is those decisions that are unconstitutional. Why is it impossible to waive a right? Because the Constitution is NEGATIVE and that means it is a RESTRAINT upon government as opposed to being a list of positive rights you possess.

        First Amendment
        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

        Note the language. It does not bestow upon you the right to freedom of religion. Instead, it is a restraint upon the government that it “shall make no law” and in this manner, it is a deliberate NEGATIVE restraint upon government rather than being a POSITIVE right you possess.

  5. Hi Anon,

    The right of self-defense is derived from self-ownership. Natural rights, in my opinion, are real in the sense that they are the natural product of the human mind. To the religious, they are a gift from God. In either case, the implication with respect to permissible moral behavior is the same. The concept of self-ownership requires reciprocity to be meaningful. If self-ownership applies to some, but not others, then it is merely an assertion of privilege, maintained through force (might makes right).

    Animals do not have “natural rights” because they cannot reciprocate, either amongst themselves or with us. Animal “rights” cannot be asserted or protected by animals themselves. Humans seem unique in this.

    Kind Regards,

  6. On target Eric. Nice to see a few others are literate, educated and can see through the BS of today’s ‘exceptional’ society.

    IMHO the Articles that preceded the GD piece of paper and actually placed sovereignty at the State and citizen level with severe limitations on the National government were better then the now defunct Constitution.

    The fact that the well educated ‘Founders’ wanted a “Strong Central Government” knowing it would likely turn out like it has make me wish they could be here to enjoy their baby. Then you have Washington implementing the First United States Bank.,,, a central bank,,, said to have said he knew it was probably unconstitutional but he signed it anyway. Then he sent troops to quell the Whiskey Rebellion which consisted of many that fought in the revolution.

    I guess what I am saying is they started out with good intentions but eventually, like present day pols, went rogue. They were as bad back then as today but did not have the infrastructure nor the illiterate, uneducated citizens that occupy the nation today.

  7. Since we are created in His image and likeness we have a right to life. And our creation is a singular event that happens at conception. All other rights, such as self-defense, liberty, property, etc., flow from this very basic right. As we all know, with liberty comes responsibility, so we have a responsibility back to our Creator to treat His creation with the utmost care, respect and reverence. So that is why even while having our free will, we do not ingest drugs, for example.

    • Hi Tom,

      I was with you until you wrote: “….So that is why even while having our free will, we do not ingest drugs, for example.”

      Define “drugs.”

      Coffee (caffeine) is a drug. Alcohol is a drug. Nicotene… etc. Some may be harmful as such, or in excess. It is immaterial.

      I have every right to “ingest” anything I wish to ingest. Because no one else has a superior claim to myself.

      The religious will assert that “god” (whichever one) does. But the problem is there’s no fact – just the assertion. On the other hand, I – and every other living human being – clearly do exist. Our existence cannot be denied. Therefore, we have the best/highest claim to ownership – at least until God manifests and offers a superior claim.

      Think of it this way:

      I have every right to go out to garage as soon as I am done typing and – if I feel the urge – rev the engine in my classic muscle car until it spins a bearing or otherwise suffers damage. Much to the chagrin – rightly so – of others who mourn the damage I am doing to a classic muscle car.

      But it is my car. It does not belong to anyone else. I have dominion over it for this reason. Few would dispute my right to abuse my own car, if that is my wish.

      It is precisely the same with regard to my body. No other human being can make the case that they have a right to control my self, because they do not own any part of my self.

      And I extend the same courtesy in return.

      • Since RoundUp has been found in virtually every person tested in this country we need to throw the “drug” moniker out the window. Is high fructose corn syrup a drug? It is addictive and is put into nearly everything corporations make including beer, another drug, in order to sell more product. I’m reminded of how addictive the shit is every time I’m in Walmart and the morbidly obese are hauling their 350-600 lbs. of sloppy lard around.

        I’m always tempted to scream at them: If you’d walk instead of ride you might not need that device.

        I don’t give a shit how somebody wants to kill themselves. It’s none of my bidness. I just don’t want to have to pay for it, and right down to the last person on once of those conveyances, it’s obvious we’re all being billed for their lack of motivation and self-control……and because the govt. dole is easier than working…..to some people. I have a very quick way to avoid being a “ward of the state”.

        When all us old farts who were college buds together got on the subject of SHTF, one said he had everything an old prepper needed, a bottle of Dewar’s and a .357.

      • Hi Eric: By drugs, I mean any drug that does harm to the body that God, our Creator gave us. (and for those reading who do not believe in the Judeo-Christian, i.e. capital “G” – God, that’s okay for the sake of this argument…) Anyway, if you believe that you were created by God at your conception, then your purpose in this life is to know, love and serve God in this life, so you can be with Him in the next. (I believe this.) So, as a way to show my love back, I do not deliberately mar either the body (or the soul too) that He gave me. For instance, I can even imbibe some hooch! And as we all know alcohol is a drug. However, I must stop the moment I find I have accidentally consumed too much. Nor should I drink for the express purpose of getting drunk. Those two things are sinful: to mean they are insulting to God for not honoring and caring for His creation *in me*.

        Therefore, *the individual* should not partake of any drugs that mar our body or soul. Nor should we abuse anything that, while pleasurable (a few beers), dishonors our God-given ability to think, rationalize, and discern good from evil. So we should not administer powerful and addictive drugs (narcotics, steroids, psychotropic, etc., etc.) to ourselves, b/c we do not know how to administer these for the healing of the body (or mind as the case may be). We certainly can be administered these things to heal the mind and body, thereby to honor and care for His creation in us!

        The libertarian position is that a person may do to their body whatever they want, as long as it does not affect me. This is since they wholly own their body, in Libertarian philosophy. While that is understandable, and to a great degree logical, it is not Christian. (if you care about things Christian.) Now, I’ll probably inflame some readers here…. but (a Christian) may say that position is not truth or RIGHT. (In the Christian’s mind, he equates right/truthful with Christian.) I, for one, do not believe that philosophy is right. A person does not wholly own his own body – it is a gift from God and must be treated as such. God has given us free will, and an extension of that free will is a complete stewardship of our bodies while we walk this Earth. Due to our fallen nature, and the sin of Pride, we hijack the aspect of complete stewardship and equate it with ownership: which is not the case.

        The political aspect of things, which is the subject here, is should I *force* you to do/or not to do something to your own body? I would say no, because you will be answerable to the degree of successful stewardship you have performed while being entrusted with God’s creation in you. I would advise, instruct, and lovingly reprimand against the sin, but not force anyone to do anything.

        I think I’ll have a whiskey and a cigar now! (But, just one each!)

      • Part and parcel of being an adult(erer) is that (1) we sexually interact with whatever other adult(s), capable of and giving consent, we wish and (2) MORE IMPORTANT, we take into our bodies whatsoever we see fit to enjoy, whether said enjoyment is “good for us” or NOT. When some busybody, seeing me reach for a cookie or pour myself a beer, makes an unsolicited remark as to whether I “need” it or it’s not “Good for Me”, I want to hand them an “STFU” card. One of my fave movies, 1993’s Demolition Man, foresaw it very well:


        The worst form of tyranny is wreaked by those that have good intentions, as they suppose they possess.

        • People may have dismissed Demolition Man as just another action flick, but, for the thinking person, it’s so much more than that. It’s a prophetic, prescient film about our future. From the self-driving cars to the chip in the right hand, it’s a frighteningly prophetic film.

        • Hi Doug,

          A True Tale for you:

          About 15 years ago, I decided to go for a hike with my dog on a trail I know off Skyline Drive – which is federal parkland, with gated entrances manned by AGWs.

          I rolled up to one of these, unbuckled – as is my practice. I despise seat belts and never wear them. The reasons are immaterial. Anyhow, I pay the fee to enter the park and the AGW notices I am not “buckled up” and “reminds” me to. I ignore the bastard and drive on.

          The AGW jumps in his AGW-mobile and hot pursuits me. Pulls me over. He asks me why I didn’t “buckle up.” I look at him – the guy has a massive beer gut – and ask him: Why don’t you stop eating so much?

          He paused – actually appeared to ponder this – and then admitted I had a point and let me go.

          Of course, this was when seatbelt laws were still new – and most AGWs probably a little ashamed to be enforcing them. Also, the Hut! Hut! Hut! culture had not yet become normalized.

          • Do that nowadays and you’d at minimum received some BS citation…and I’d highly advise to have “cameras rolling”, b/c if the “porker” thinks he can get away with it, you’re in for a beat-down! The reality of today’s police state.

      • Hey, with regard to your right to abuse your corpus indelectus, you’re preaching to the choir, Eric…


        When one hears of so many discussions about things like Mayor Bloomberg wanting to regulate soda sales in NYC, or even the ongoing debate over “Health Care” (which there ought to be no goddamned ‘debate’ at all, the services of a physician or any health practitioner ought to be entirely a free-market decision, including the right of anyone to hang out his/her shingle and the right of any person to pick whatever medical treatment (s)he wants, or decline same altogether), it leads me to believe that somehow there’s a mentality out there, nay, even a mental DISORDER (IAW Michael Savage’s excellent book about ‘Liberalism’ being one), that holds that our very bodies are NOT our own! Ergo, somehow, we have some ‘duty’, as if we were in the military, that our conduct or habits somehow impact “health care costs” overall. Well, that might be ok if we’re in the Volkshturmm, but in AMERICA, that’s not something that the Constitution grants authority for the Federal Government to usurp. And if a state government overreaches, we have the ability to vote with our feet.

        • Hi Doug,

          This really is the crux of the matter. Do we own ourselves – or not? All else flows from the answer. It cleaves everything from seat belt laws to Obamacare to one side – or the other.

          I saw a neon sign outside the middle school I drive by almost every day (yeah, they now have displays, like a Vegas casino) hectoring traffic that “seat belts saves lives.”

          Well, perhaps. So also going to the gym to exercise, where I was headed. How about tickets for those who don’t? The same principle applies. And it scales.

          Once you get someone to grasp this – the idea that other people, through such things as seat belt laws and soda laws and mandated health insurance, etc. – are really asserting their ownership over yourself, that the particulars are incidental, you can make real progress.

          I’ve tried it. It works!

          • Oh, I do my best. At least I’m no longer subject to the UCMJ, save that being in the “inactive” Reserves I’m still subject to recall until age 62 (I highly doubt they’ll need my broken-down ass for another two years and two months), and any adherence to fitness standards is VOLUNTARY, based on my needs.

            Even in “Knife and Fork School”, an officer candidate has, at any time, the opportunity to change his/her mind and walk out the gate. No one in the military can claim they didn’t know what they were getting into, and that the candidate pledges her/her life and body (“Your soul MAY belong to JESUS, but your ASS belongs to Uncle Sam”) at least during the service commitment or however long one is needed (e.g., “Stop-Loss”).

            Eric, our respective ability to assert our inherent ownership is exactly what I served for. Again, I had several classes on law and one thing, surprisingly for a “Gubmint” school, was clear regarding the Constitution: It is an establishment of the GOVERNMENT, and documents RESTRICTIONS on the powers of the Federal Government, and what powers the several States DELEGATED (meaning, they once had it and inherent retain them) to the Federal Government, their servant. The Bill of Rights was intended to mention the most important of the rights the People ALREADY HAVE, and a pledge (broken, IMO, all too often) that these rights shall be respected, but it does NOT limit them specifically to what’s mentioned! In fact, the Ninth Amendment was written EXACTLY to make that point clear. The one that follows it, the TENTH, is even more important, and likely the most disregarded of all, because it does give a “Strict Constructionist” definition, specifying that ALL powers NOT SPECIFICALLY given to the Federal Government are reserved for the several states, or the PEOPLE. I’d say that starting with (Dis)Honest Abe, whom brutally crushed the (at least initially) PEACEFUL secession of the eleven states of the Confederacy, and usurped powers to prevent the secession of Maryland (like arresting the State Legislature and putting Annapolis and Baltimore under military occupation, hence “Federal Hill” near the downtown, where Union artillery was trained on the city), and then going down through the so-called “Progressive Era” under Teddy Roosevelt, ever as much a tyrant as his distant relative Franklin Delano, whom cemented it with his “Raw” Deal. We’ve a long way to go to slaying the Federal Leviathan, and I fear that only an economic debacle and the resulting chaos will make it happen. May we live in interesting times.

        • “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
          – F Scott Fitzgerald

          This is the crux of the debate. The Intelligentsia believes their ability to have two diametrically opposed ideas, say a woman’s right to choose and the right of a living being to exist (even when completely dependent on life support), as a sign of their superiority. Or that mob rule isn’t going to trample the rights of the minority. And of course there’s always a grey scale when it comes to their rights, but “ours,” meaning anyone who isn’t them, are subject to an increasingly binary set of definitions.

          • RK,

            To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.’

  8. Maybe the only right we actually are born with is the right of self defense. Imagine the zebra pleading to the lion next to him at the watering hole that he has the right to water. There are 2 types of people in this world, and they are the parasites and the producers. We, the productive, have the right to defend ourselves against the parasites of the world, and that’s where our rights begin and end.


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