About the Author
Opinion Archives
E-mail Scott
Scott's Links

Where do our rights come from?

Indiana Daily Student, September 19, 2008

To the Editor:

In response to Sarah Palin's hope that people in every country can enjoy "God-given" rights including "life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness", Nick Wallace remarks, "Can we really elect a leader who defines what is right for her country only by the voices she hears in her head?" (IDS, September 17). A little history lesson might be in order.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." That is from the Declaration of Independence, where men who could be described as radicals announced that the 13 colonies would secede from the powerful British Empire. Notice any similarity between Palin's statement that Wallace mocked? Would Wallace have said the same thing 232 years ago?

No, our nation was not perfect when it was founded and progress was necessary. But we should not forget that these men pledged their "Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" not to gain political power but to the cause of liberty. In mocking Palin's statement, Wallace also mocks his country and the freedom of the press he enjoys.

Where do our rights come from, if not from God? Think about it another way. If our rights come from God, then no man rightly has the authority to take those rights away. If, however, rights are granted by man, they can also be taken away by man. A legal document protecting those rights can be easily amended to take those rights away because they are not "inalienable" after all. Obviously, the view expressed by this nation's founding fathers and echoed by Palin is more protective of individual liberty than a worldview where rights are an invention of man.

Scott Tibbs.