Brown: The Constitution gives you zero rights

Columnist Aaron Brown explains how the Constitution does not grant anyone their rights. 

Aaron Brown

I hear it all the time, but the U.S. Constitution does not give anyone any rights. The U.S. Constitution was not intended by the people who signed it — such as Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock or Charles Pinckney — to be a document spelling out everyone’s rights. Alexander Hamilton makes it quite clear: “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

The Second Amendment does not give anyone the right to own a firearm. You are born into this world with the right to both defend yourself and defend others who cannot defend themselves. Whether a guy in China named Haoran or some guy in Ethiopia named Alimayu, both have the right to defend themselves, even though nobody they know has ever heard of the U.S. Constitution. The right to life is not something the United Nations invented in 1948

The First Amendment never granted anyone the right to say whatever the fantastic they want. Man was designed to have a reasoning mind and a rational soul, day one. Nobody needs permission from George Washington to speak his opinions. Benjamin Franklin did not need to sign anything for you to complain about how the government is running things. Your existence in this world is your free speech permit.

What does the Constitution do then? Why are there the ten original amendments to it if they don’t give us anything? Essentially, the Constitution is a contract. The original states wanted to form a union to provide for common defense against attackers and invaders such as pirates or the French or British. There are a few other things in the Constitution — telling you how much water your shower can spray isn’t in there, by the way. So the states wrote up a contract to say what the government can and cannot do. Then they added ten promises on the end because people were afraid the government would grow too powerful and infringe on their rights.

These promises, the Bill of Rights, are statements restricting what the federal government is allowed to do, not permitting what you can do. The First Amendment does not say, “People can worship God however their conscience directs.” It says “Congress shall pass no law …” The Second Amendment does not say people are allowed to carry ‘weapons of war,’ but rather that such right “shall not be infringed.” The Third Amendment restricts what soldiers can do. The Fourth Amendment grants no rights but rather says the rights people already have had better “not be violated.” The Seventh Amendment speaks of rights being “preserved,” not granted. To top it off, the Ninth Amendment says that no matter what the Constitution says, you can’t twist it into denying or disparaging the rights “retained by the people.”

You are born into this world with rights. Some call them God-given rights as given by God. Some call them natural rights because the natural state of man is to have rights to life, liberty, travel, thought, speech, religion, association, property, trade and so on and so forth. The list could go on. You may have noticed “the pursuit of happiness” is missing. We will save the 18th-century meaning of “happiness” for another day.

What does it mean to have rights? Essentially, it means you can do whatever you want so long as you don’t violate the rights of others. You have the liberty to do what you want — until you want to murder somebody. That violates that person’s right to life. Violation of property rights is called theft. Violation of the right to travel or movement is called kidnapping or a hostage situation. Chattel slavery violates many rights, especially the right to own your self. You are the owner of your own body and mind.

The most frequent abuser of rights in this day and age is the government. Remember how the U.S. government made ten promises to not violate your rights? Well, who holds the government to its word, besides the government? Each of the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights have been violated in one way or another, especially by the Patriot Act. Nonetheless, there are many noble and honorable judges and jurists who hold the Constitution’s promises in high regard and do not let legislators and other rulers go haywire. The U.S. Constitution is still standing in the way of people who would rob you and enslave you.

So you know a bit about your rights, why you have them and what they are. Now you can celebrate and go shred your copy of the Constitution, or call me completely stupid for suggesting such a thing. It’s your choice. …It’s your right.