Sunday, February 15, 2015

Christopher, Cross

No one's going to get that pun unless they're around my age.


So Chris Cuomo was on TV the other night arguing with the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.  The conversation purportedly was about gay marriage, about which I'm against both of them (I don't care who gets married to whom, but I don't think making laws about marriage is a good idea, and would personally ignore all existing ones, were I to ever get married).

But the "honorable" justice, who doesn't get the "stay out of the bedroom thing" made a statement:  "Our rights come from God!"

Mr. Cuomo protested.  "That's not the constitution!  That's just your faith! It might be your faith AND my faith, but it still didn't give us our rights. Our rights come from MAN."

If Cuomo is using the word "man" as "humanity; the human family; mankind"....ehhhhh, I might continue to drink a beer with him in the bar where we started that conversation.  But I'd worry about his understanding of law, the history of law, and philosophy.

Now first, here are some caveats before we continue.

I've read the constitution, and I've never been a fan.  The US Declaration of Independence rocks, and reading the ideas of Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and even those who influenced them (John Locke, Cato, etc) is interesting to say the least.  But the US constitution is imperfect.  It's an instrument that, under its designed judicial system, allowed the Fugitive Slave Act to continue;  it refers to African Americans as "3/5 of a white person" in terms of voting (some say to give them some access to the polls; others say that these people surely voted the same way their master's did, out of fear of repercussion; so any ability of this minority to adress grievances was cut off, at least as far as the writers knew); and the "checks and balances" it alludes to haven't work since George Washington gave his first executive order.  The amendments serve to correct some of these problems....sometimes.

And the Bill of Rights...well, I guess I have a love/hate relationship.

As a document that shows the founders ACKNOWLEDGED our natural rights, it's great. They were definitely talking about natural rights, using some natural-rights-ese, if you would.  The lingo of Locke, Rousseau (no not the part about letting kids live wild and free in the streets),  Paine, and others;  things like "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", "natural rights (of course)",

But the Bill of Rights isn't there to GIVE us ANY rights.

Among philosophers, and politicians, you can argue the morality or even the existence of "natural rights."  But whatever your view of them, if you believe they are something that other human beings can "give" to us...or even "allow us to have"'ve missed the whole point.