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How did the RKBA originate?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by jungle, Jan 23, 2013.

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  1. jungle

    jungle Well-Known Member

    It might help to understand how the RKBA and all other rights we hold as innate originated with the Framers and which right they held to be most important and which right was the source of all others.

    There has been some effort to control the dialog here, but I think this speaks for itself.


    Posted on 17 November 2008 11:32:34 by Monsieur Poirot

    It is simply impossible to understand the U.S. Constitution without first possessing a thorough understanding of property rights. If you traveled back in time to enter James Madison’s mind as he wrote and debated on such weighty issues as free speech, the rights of self defense, and the freedom of the press and freedom of conscience, but came away lacking knowledge of his and the Framers’ views on property, you still would be woefully ignorant of our Constitution, and even our history, for it was a whole series of property disputes which gave rise to both the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention itself.

    To understand the rights of property in a Constitutional context you must know two things: just how important were these rights to the Framers, and just what they meant by the term. In a political context, virtually nothing was as important to the Framers as property rights. Any decent work on constitutional theory you’d care to pick up will tell you that these men had “an almost religious respect”1 for property, that “The rights of property were inviolable…”2 and that the Constitution itself is the embodiment of the rights of property as developed primarily by John Locke in the 17th century.

    You will find that the Founders were favorably disposed to history’s great philosophers who held that “concerns for freedom could not be separated from concerns for property,”3 and that the Framers knew “inadequately secured property rights could render vulnerable even the fundamental liberties of speech, press, and meaningful political participation.”4 Or, as the Framers themselves said, The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet,' and 'Thou shalt not steal,' were not commandments of heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.5 John Adams

    Property is surely a right of mankind, as really as liberty.6 John Adams

    Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.7 James Madison

    Most startling of all, perhaps, was Forrest McDonald’s observation that property rights were so important to the Framers that all but four of the 55 men at the Convention placed its protection behind only liberty itself as the sacred charge of government. And of the four who disagreed on this point, three of them differed not because they valued property rights less than their fellows, but because they actually “put its protection ahead of liberty as the main object of society.”8 (Emphasis added) Readers will note that the above formulation does indeed place property ahead of freedom of religion, the press, speech, and assembly, the right to petition the government, and the rights of self-defense, the right to be secure in one’s home, and the rights of the accused, including rights against self-incrimination, and the right to a fair and speedy trial in which one may face one’s accusers.

    In short, the Framers placed property rights higher than all the rights that are most commonly associated with them. Exactly why this is so, will be discussed shortly, but, first, we might need a refresher course on the definition of “property rights.” Property rights is a multi-faceted concept, encompassing a great many things, and even though many today have probably never even heard the phrase, just as many are still keenly aware of a significant portion of its meaning, for the central tenet of the philosophy merely holds that man has a property interest in his own being, is therefore master of himself, and is entitled to freedom of conscience, and freedom of self determination.

    But, as the phrase clearly implies, there is an economic aspect involved here also, and it is this very practical and prosaic aspect that most concerned our Founders. When the Framers refer reverently to property (and they almost always speak of property in overtly religious terms) they mean not just land, as a great many mistakenly believe when first exposed to the philosophy, but to all of our possessions -- our books, our shoelaces, our pillow shams, our houses, our rusty rakes hanging in the shed, and most certainly our money, our paychecks, our bank accounts, anything, in short, produced by our labor. The recent uproar, entirely on “property rights” grounds, over the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, in which the court held as constitutional Connecticut’s seizure of private land to the benefit of another wholly private party, demonstrates conclusively the public’s lack of understanding of property rights, for there was simply nothing new or even remotely novel in the government’s actions in this case; why it warranted more than two lines in any newspaper in the country is simply baffling.

    After all, American governments on all levels have been for generations now openly, brazenly, and publicly doing exactly and precisely what engendered so much scorn in the Kelo case -- seizing private property (money) in sums which the human mind can scarcely even comprehend to transfer to other wholly private concerns. It’s called welfare spending, and indeed, it sometimes seems as if the federal government hardly ever does anything else. And while these welfare programs are often called misguided or counterproductive, they are never, unlike the actions that triggered Kelo, referred to as an immoral seizure of our property and the trampling of our rights. The idea that our paychecks are on a more-than-equal footing with such things as our freedom of conscience is simply unknown to almost all Americans. It is, further, nothing short of incomprehensible to us.

    Most of us, upon hearing that our paychecks, those grubby, sweat-stained little dollar bills of ours, represent rights as sacred and unalienable as our speech rights will react with ridicule, shock, or disdain at the idea, for nothing could be so totally alien, so utterly foreign, and so simply outrageous as that claim. In this day and age, when government overtly and blatantly conspires before our very eyes to seize ever greater portions of our paychecks to give to absolutely anybody who can muster the votes, it is very easy, perhaps, to see our property as something infinitely less than sacred, but, hard as the idea may be to adjust to, sacred is precisely how history’s greatest political philosophers saw our property. Despite the fact that this “sacred dollar bill” concept might initially take some getting used to, a second glance reveals that it is really nothing more than post-World War II American liberal thought, instantly recognized and accepted by all, raising not an eyebrow from the grade schools, to civic organizations, right up to the halls of Congress, and the Oval Office. What is at first shocking, is, on second evaluation, plainly obvious.

    For, as noted above, the philosophy behind property rights merely holds that man is born free, is his own master, possessing certain unalienable rights handed down from the Creator, and that no matter what form of government one lives under, no matter how many majority votes a government may summon up, one should still be able to practice one's own religion, speak one's thoughts, print and read material of one's choosing, or engage in any of hundreds upon thousands of activities which do not harm others. If we are really entitled to engage in activities that do not harm others, why do we so easily accept that this philosophy, which covers our social, political, religious, and moral existence, does not include our economic activity? By spending more time engaged in the pursuit of property than all other activities combined, with the possible exception of sleeping, people the world over clearly demonstrate that this is the most important of human endeavors. That being so, and if we really believe that we are in any significant way free, why are we Americans so willing to exclude property from that which is Constitutionally protected?

    How is it that zealously protecting weird and outlandish behavior, engaged in by various and sundry freaks (Nazis parading in front of Holocaust survivors in Skokie, IL, pornographers, etc.) can be government’s sacred charge, to be regulated only under certain, very extreme circumstances, but when a ditch is dug, a computer is programmed, or an automobile is repaired, the government can insert itself into the equation for virtually any reason on earth, cutting itself in for a large share of the pie to finance bike paths, student loans, free needles for crack-heads, or a highway to be named for a congressman and placed in his district three thousand miles from taxpayers who financed it?

    While today’s American citizen eagerly, indeed almost by instinct and with no government urging needed, places his economic life wholly and absolutely outside the ever expanding universe of sacred rights that many believe now includes such things as lap dancing and government funded drugs and condoms, there is just no intellectually valid reason why repugnant actions that harm no others should receive Constitutional protection while the labor of a mechanic which harms no others, and indeed is a valuable resource, receives no protection whatsoever. If one accepts the modern American credo that the government should not tell one how to live one’s life, and that the government cannot and should not “legislate morality,” or trample on “personal rights,” an attitude nicely summarized, I think, by the famously liberal Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in one of his well known dissents, The most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men is the right to be let alone, and the concept of privacy embodies the moral fact that a person belongs to himself and not others nor to society as a whole.9

    Then one must also accept that a laborer should not have to surrender his wages to support another human being, subsidize a business, or augment his neighbor’s standard of living. For it is a simple and undeniable fact that forcing Americans to give up every single penny of their earnings from January through March, and deep into April, forcing us to work, and toil, and labor for better than 110 days of every year, largely for the benefit of others, is indeed telling us how to live our lives, is indeed “legislating morality,” and is indeed trampling on “personal rights.”

    Again, the words of the Framers reveal that the most sacred, the most important, and the most politically relevant of all our natural rights, the right most in need of protection, and the right that most allows man to realize self-determination and to be truly free is the right to keep the money (property) that he has earned. The Founders’ obsesson with safeguarding property led them to write about this one right in the Federalist Papers nine times as often as they did voting rights, speech rights, privacy rights, religious rights, or press rights combined. An analysis of the eighty-five essays that make up the Federalist Papers can be instructive. Forms of the four words “money,” “tax,” “revenue,” and “property” appear approximately 325 times in those essays.

    This is almost nine times as often as forms of the seven words “religion,” “speech,” “press,” “privacy,” “newspaper,” “vote,” (by citizens) or “suffrage,” which occur approximately 38 times, or less than once in every two essays. Indeed, all four of the words from the first set, taken separately, appear more than the seven words in the second set combined. Additionally forms of “tax” and “revenue”, taken separately, appear more than twice as often as the seven words in the second set combined. The property words receive, on average, 82 “hits” each. The second set averages less than six “hits” each. Similar numbers occur with the Constitution itself, even after the Bill of Rights is included. The four “money” words appear more than four times as often as the words in the second group. Indeed, none** of the words from the second group appears in the original, unamended Constitution.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  2. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator


    If you hope to keep this thread open, you will need to provide satisfactory answers to the following questions:

    1. Where was that posted? Who is "Monsieur Poirot"? What are the bases for his claims? Please provide a link.

    2. What does Poirot's "discourse" on property rights have to do with the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

      In that regard, note that Joyce Lee Malcolm in her book, Guns and Violence, the English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002) discussed at length one perspective, supported by substantial historical reference. To summarize, during the several hundred years prior to the adoption of the United States Constitution, it was in general widely understood and accepted English tradition that ordinary, honest people have arms to be used for, at various times and under various conditions, self defense, defense of their communities, prevention of crime and apprehension criminals, assisting in maintaining public order, defense of the nation, and (yes) hunting. Of course from the age of the Tudors through the age of the Hanovers (and beyond), at certain times some rights were circumscribed, often for one group or another, depending on who was in power.

      Professor Malcolm is a well respected author and scholar. She teaches and publishes under her own name and thus takes responsibility, and can be held accountable, for her claims.

      This "Poirot" guy appears to be just another anonymous denizen of cyberspace.

    3. So why should we take this "Poirot" guy seriously?
  3. jungle

    jungle Well-Known Member

    Why should anyone be taken seriously? It would only be for the quality of their ideas and the truth they contain, not the name of the author.

    If you dispute the facts presented, show evidence.

    Frank, if you want a real dialog here, you are going to have to understand that our rights are not doled out from capitol hill, nor are they dependent on your or my opinion and they certainly don't come from a majority vote.

    You are not holding up very well as an impartial moderator here, and seem quite eager to skip over facts to rewrite things your way. Not a good sign.

    As to the question of accountability, we only need to examine the record of our congress to understand there has been no accountability whatsoever with regard to our innate and fundamental rights.

    Property rights are the very basis of any just government, surely you cannot find fault with that idea because all of our rights are derived from that concept, unlike jolly olde England.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  4. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    Quite simply, RKBA originated with the birth of Mankind on Earth. Self defense is a right bestowed on Man commensurate with his inception; we are "endowed by our Creator" with certain unalienable rights, among others, life. Inherent in the right to life is the right to protect life (including unborn life, but that's another story).

    In the beginning there were no firearms, but there have been rocks, clubs, pointed sticks, bladed implements, etc. very nearly since the dawn of Man. Weaponry technology advanced, and as soon as Man could equip himself with a firearm, doing so as a means of defending himself against potentially harmful threats was rolled into his inherent, God-given right to life.

    So, the right to keep and bear arms, recognized in the Constitution and codified there as a basis for American culture, originated with the invention of the firearm, and has existed ever since by virtue of the coexistence of men and guns.
  5. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Since your anonymous correspondent didn't provide documentation to support his "facts" there's no reason to accept them as facts. He who makes the assertion has the burden of providing evidence to support that assertion.

    And that is not the point. It's not a question of dialog. It's a question of being on topic.

    The Legal Forum as described in the THR index is a place to (emphasis added):

    As stated in the Rules THR is (emphasis added):

    Also as stated in the Rules (emphasis added):

    As further stated in the Rules, specifically Rule 6:

    The OP has been offered an opportunity to relate his thread to the subject matter of this Forum and the mission of THR, and he has been unable to do so.

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