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Negative rights?

October 2, 2009

The Liberal Left has been at it again.  They have been trying to re-frame the rights we have in the Constitution as “negative” rights, which  is assumed to be a bad thing.

By now, you should be familiar with the Alinsky tactic: frame the debate in terms favorable to your point of view and you win.

The reason they want to re-frame our rights as “negative” is that they want a new, UN-style statement of “positive” rights.  You can imagine all the things that will become “entitlements” in that kind of scenario.

There are two major problems with this approach.

First, we already have a  statement of positive rights: it’s called the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.  What’s not “positive,” for example,  about the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?

Second, the “negative” aspect of rights applies to the government, not the people.  This is huge.  Any right we have not specifically given to the government–whether federal or state–is reserved to the people.  What other rights do we need?

The only rights the government has are those specifically spelled out in the Constitution or–increasingly–which we are increasingly willing to allow the government to usurp through unconstitutional legislation by the Congress or the judiciary twisting the Constitution like a pretzel to justify a predetermined outcome.

This has got to stop.  The 9/12 march on the Capitol was only the first salvo–a warning shot across the bow of the ship of state.  I  hope the liberals piloting that ship are paying attention, but I doubt it.  It’s up to We the People to take our government back.

  1. Bill Gillin permalink
    October 5, 2009 3:16 pm

    Al, you nailed it! The Bill of Rights is deemed negative by the leftists/statists because the Constitution is a roadblock in their takeover of our republic and our lives.

  2. acmaurerco permalink*
    October 5, 2009 5:21 pm

    Thanks. These days they seem to be treating it more like a speed bump.

  3. Ron permalink
    October 9, 2009 2:41 pm


    George Lakoff, claiming to be a cognitive scientist, at UC Berkeley (studied under Noam Chomsky at MIT), takes a lot of credit for turning the political momentum in favor of the progressives (see his introduction in Jeffrey Feldman’s book, Framing the Debate, p. xii).

    In Lakoff’s book, Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision (published in 2006 and pushed throughout the Democratic caucus as “A Progressive Handbook”), he describes eight lessons from cognitive science. Lesson number seven says, “Facts can be assimilated into the brain only if there is a frame to make sense out of them” (p. 38).

    This may explain why progressives are so fond of change. It does not really matter what the outcomes are nor what reality has to offer, for progressives typically see life like the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass. George Will wrote a great piece using this analogy in a recent column (October 4), “Obama’s Foreign Policy Suspends Disbelief.”

    Of course, we already know that facts seem of no importance in advancing progressive style healthcare reform.

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