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July 11th, 2006

Kent State and Rights

In response to Kent State prohibiting athletes from using facebook.com, I read the stupidest rebuttal:

"[T]here are a lot of protected rights you can't sign away, no matter how hard you try."

Huh?  Like which one -- OH! let me guess, speech.  People keep citing free speech because I believe they feel threatened by the Patriot Act and, well, Bush in general.  I feel threatened by neither and I think the right to life exemplifies the problem with this statement, so let me divulge my analysis of why citizens hurt themselves by making such a defense of their rights. 

Now if one assumes, as this person did, that there exists innate, or inalienable, rights that the Founders codified through the Bill of Rights*, then one comes to the conclusion that the state can prevent suicide.  For why?  Because you, the person holding the right to life, despite any contract that may place the burden of murder upon yourself instead of citizens assisting your suicide, may not give up living.  With respect to this argument, your right to live is innate and cannot be absolved by anyone, including yourself.  This is a stupid argument: the state intervening on your behalf to ensure you keep exercising your right to life.  The ACLU and other activists of the individual would have me believe that the above statement protects my right to speak.  I find it obvious, given my example of the right to life, that such a defense burdens the citizens with overbearing, intractable rights -- but, ironically, such government infringement gives volatile fuel to the ACLU's litigation team, it necessitates activist groups fighting "in our behalf".

But this is not my point; one can circumvent this problem by explaining that the right to life is one of those that can be signed away, whereas the right to speak is not.  But I find a list of exempted rights complicated and inconsistent, and, if anything, I find that our law is an experiment in consistently applying the Law fairly and justly.  So any right described by law should be consistently applied to the same types of situations, such as in this case, the rights of speech for every collegiate athlete.  Rather than writing a list of rights exempted from contracts, it is far more consistent to assume that all rights are limited; this is how our government functions.  There are no absolute rights within the context of government, however, I can do anything despite government infringement.  There is a difference between the two clauses of the previous sentence yet I have found few who agree.  To illustrate: I find it silly to speak about rights exclusively outside the context of government just asmuch as it is silly to speak about God to a person who is, and always has been, exclusively atheist. The anarchist will disagree with me, and I will kindly ask he return to his island nation and leave me in order rather than chaos.  Regardless, I concur with NMirriam when he wrote a critical opinion in support of Kent State's decision: "U.S. courts have repeatedly ruled that, as participation in extracurricular activities is not a required part of the educational mission, it can be subject to restrictions that would otherwise be unconstitutional. That's why drug tests for Algebra II are not allowed, but drug tests for Basketball are."

So I find this preponderate fretting over infringement of speech an irrational sedative to the great fear, not George Bush or the Patriot Act, rather fear itself.  "Fear is the mind-killer", not a law that says you should not say such-and-such. (Frank Herbert)

* the Founders attributed the origin of innate rights to God, but I digress