Letter: It seems those who cry loudest, know least about our rights (Opinion)
(This is in response to “Think about the precedent….” guest column by Bruce Grego printed on May 8)
Mr. Grego does not quite understand the Constitution and the rights that it guarantees. Unfortunately, it seems that most of those who cry the loudest about how much they revere our founding documents, know the least about them.
There are no absolute rights in any of the bill of rights amendments. For example, the first, and most important, right of free speech is not absolute. The grade school example is that “you can not yell “fire” in a crowd,” because that can lead to harm of others, the community as a whole.
The fifth grants us the right to private property, but states clearly that it can be taken by the government (eminent domain) with just compensation, again for the good of society as a whole.
The fourth grants privacy, but with probable cause and a warrant, it can be searched and seized by the government acting on behalf of us all. Although it is sacred to many, the second amendment is not absolute either. It is the same for all of them.
Part of the problems we face with political/ideological polarization in America is that there are many citizens who believe that individual rights always supersede communal rights. Many think that this is the epitome of American ideology, and while it may be an attractive belief, it may also be very selfish.
This is a central tenet of Libertarians. If communism believes that “communal rights always supersede individual rights,” then Libertarianism is the opposite extreme.
But our constitution is not an extremist document, but strikes a balance between these two opposites. It’s very structure is one of compromise and balance, and much, maybe most, of that is lost in today’s thinking.
It is always a debatable matter of how much emphasis should we give one over the other, but to believe there is an absolute dominance of one or the other is mistaken.
Now, if you apply that knowledge to our present circumstances, and our reaction to them, you will have a better understanding of what rights you have and what rights our government (we as a society as a whole) have.
Greg Case, South Lake Tahoe
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