Skip to content

“negative-rights”

October 13, 2012
Lincoln met with his Cabinet for the first rea...

Lincoln met with his Cabinet for the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation draft on July 22, 1862. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s interesting that a nation claiming to extol doctrines of equality and justice has at the same time such trouble in dealing with the glaringly obvious fact that this “just aint the case”.  Every day injustice disparity and discrimination “routinely” take place within its very own political institutions, courts, law enforcement agencies, bureaucracies, businesses, banks, colleges, schools, media… and the list goes on until finally ending in the hearts and minds of the very citizens that these principles were fashioned to protect.  Then as is so often the case when injustices and suffering happens to others, not affecting me or mine they pass with little notice, to be filed under “not our concern”.   “Out of sight and out of mind” the saying goes which is fine for many things… but a formula for disaster with [others] and this issue is one of those.

Anyone familiar with this nation’s history knows of or has even read the first ten Amendments to the US Constitution also known as the Bill of Rights.  This document lays out the framework and guiding principles protecting our civil rights.  It does this mainly by way of “negative-rights” that is to say rights to be free from something or [not] have things done to us or our property thus protecting us from certain governmental actions or inactions.  And despite the fact these rights are guaranteed us in this document they are not necessarily provided to us.  For example the constitutionally protected right to bail for all US citizens vs. what actually happens when bail is provided according to certain standards such as being employed, although every defendant is considered eligible for it, only those with employment are freed to await trial.  Meaning those without employment remain incarcerated despite not having been tried, or convicted of a crime.

Further instances include “justly enacted unjust laws” such as can be found in the Constitution upholding and protecting the “de jure right” to own slaves which remained in force until Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in December 1865.  Or in decisions such as Plessy v. Ferguson 163 US 537 (1896) which held up the “right” of private citizens to discriminate based on the doctrine of “separate but equal”.  Back then in many southern states the lynching of African-Americans was a common occurrence… a cold-blooded murder for which virtually no one was ever arrested or tried let alone convicted.

Thus the guarantees in the Constitution are more like abstract ideals which for many depending on their situation may or may not actually apply.  You know like those credit card offers guaranteeing one is pre-approved, you can send it in but the guarantee is only good if you meet their criteria.

 

Rule according to higher law. (2012, August 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:39, September 8, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rule_according_to_higher_law&oldid=509182352

Advertisements
No comments yet

Really and what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Inverse Square Blog

science and the public square -- by thomas levenson

The Honest Courtesan

Frank commentary from an unretired call girl

Adask's law

The Profit of Injustice

Mobilizing Ideas

Activists and Scholars Debate Social Movements and Social Change

Rangewriter

What Comes Next?

This Day - One Day

Be aware of what your Country will not do for you!

Zwinglius Redivivus

flagellum dei

The Fifth Column

"News and views from around the world"

de-conversion

Resources for skeptical, de-converting, or former Christians......

euzicasa

Share something you learned everyday!

Freethought

observations on science and religion

invincibleignorance

An insoluble intrapersonal state of factual denial motivated by a persistent need to be right in order to shield the conscious from the absurdity of the ideas and position’s populating it. ______________This is an attempt to explore the lunacy of an otherwise supposedly enlightened society… or not...

invincibleignorance

An attempt to explore the lunacy of a supposedly enlightend society

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: