A Right Unused …

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before?

Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

Is this really true? I haven’t exercised my Third Amendment rights ever in my lifetime. I don’t know too many other folks who have either. Yet the Third Amendment is doing so well, the government hardly ever violates it. Additionally, despite a dearth of case law, those which have come up ruled pretty decisively in favor of the right of the citizen. Further, no one seriously argues that the Third Amendment is wrong and ought to be repealed. The Third Amendment is doing pretty well despite falling into disuse!

Now, let’s take a look from the other side. People exercise the right of home ownership pretty regularly, and we trek about with our persons, papers and personal effects on a regular basis. Yet it takes the barest of any pretext for the police to search the ever loving crap out of your personage and vicinity, because most searches have been deemed “reasonable” by the courts. If the Second Amendment ends up being in as poor a shape as the 4th Amendment, by the time all this is said and done, I’ll cry.

I think this is a eloquent way to simply a complex issue to the point where it’s a pleasing thing to think, but doesn’t reflect reality. The answer is the loss of rights is a lot more complex than whether you use it or not, and our community shouldn’t delude itself into thinking otherwise.

8 thoughts on “A Right Unused …”

  1. All I know is, they’ll get the keys to my guest house only from my COLD…DEAD…HANDS.

  2. First amendment rights have expanded with technology. If a court were inclined, the 3rd amendment could protect against government spyware on your computer, or the government turning on your phone to listen in (with or without a warrant).

    The 3rd amendment should prevent the leisurely attitude police take at crime scenes. A police officer that uses the victim’s bathroom without permission, or shoots the dog to feel more secure, or invites a news photographer to come along into a private dwelling, would seem to be violating the 3rd amendment. The 3rd amendment should protect your right to bear arms in your own home when the police are present

  3. I suppose this will be a pointless comment, because “what if?” speculation can never be more than thought-provoking and entertaining, but anything I’ve ever heard firsthand about Americans’ war fervor during WWI and WWII suggests such extreme irrationality, that if there had been any practicality in forced quartering of troops in private homes or properties, I think one week of war propaganda would have thrown the Third Amendment out the window. Actually, every amendment was on life-support, during both wars, and probably will be again someday.

  4. I just thought of another example: I heard about OC when I was about 18 (we weren’t really a handgun family) and c. 1964 I remember wearing a S&W .45 on my hip into the Langhorne Post Office. I was about 18, looked about 14, and nobody batted an eye.

    Over the next five years or so I was told how lucky I had been, because people all over were getting busted for “disturbing the peace,” etc., for OCing. I’d already had enough battles “on principle” to hold me for awhile, so I stopped OCing in the suburban areas. I don’t know what people in the really rural counties did, but for several decades the attitude seemed to be, “Yeah, you can read the law all you want, but when it comes to OC, don’t try it.”

    Then within the past decade the OC awareness campaign was born, and it returned from being a “legal right you’d better not try” to “a right.” We had allowed it to atrophy, and it took effort and commitment for it to be brought back to life. But the theme is, rights can atrophy if we don’t fight for them.

  5. Going down the ‘on the other hand’ hole, I can imagine:

    Multiple email accounts and usernames being banned, and the government forcing people to use one unique, traceable ID

    Requirement to own and carry a smart phone, so that one’s location is tracked at all times. Easy to imagine a 24 hour reporting period for lost/stolen phones.

    Mandatory RFID chips in guns, other weapons, & cars. In theory, sensitive locations would be able to screen for weapons. In theory, high crime areas could invest in lots of sensors and track weapons used in violent crimes.

    Mandatory RFID chips in driver licenses, credit cards, shoe soles, prescription medicine bottle lids. Because the government needs to track where everything is.

    Mandatory voting. Because neither the DNC or GOP have a principles that would prevent them from making voting mandatory if they saw an advantage.

    Jury duty becoming a full time job (and a competitive government job at that)

    If the good guys win on guns, noise suppressors will be mandatory.

    1. I agree with the spirit of what you say, but I would say our masters have become sophisticated enough at what they do that they probably won’t make the things you suggest mandatory, they’ll just make them extremely convenient and apparently beneficial to do, and extremely inconvenient not to do. Nobody forced us to get cell phones, but today everyone has one. And they made our first internal passports (photo drivers licenses) easy to get, and shortly very inconvenient not to have.

      The State in the west tends not to be heavy-handed, and prefers deception to force, when it can be used. A relative of mine was a guard around the Soviet missile base from which the missiles of the Cuban Missile Crisis were transferred. He says that when the missiles were to be moved, everyone in the surrounding countryside was told to stay inside their houses with the shades drawn for 24 hours, or be shot on sight. I told him and my other ex-Soviet relatives that in the same situation, the United States would have announced a radioactive spill, and evacuated the surrounding area while the missiles were moved. And, everyone would have believed it for years to come.

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