Stupidity is a human right, too
by David Atkins
Newt Gingrich wants a worldwide treaty declaring gun ownership to be a universal human right. No, really:
The right to bear arms comes from our creator, not our government,” Gingrich said. The NRA “has been too timid” in promoting its agenda beyond American borders. The Bill of Rights was not written only for Americans, he said. “It is a universal document.”
“A Gingrich presidency will submit to the UN a treaty that extends the right to bear arms as a human right to every person on the planet.” Every world citizen, he said, “deserves the right to defend themselves from those who exploit, imprison, or kill them.” For his latest big idea, Gingrich earned a standing ovation from the crowd of roughly 5,000.
“We don’t need to go across the planet trying to impose American values, but we do need to go across the planet spreading human values,” Gingrich said. “The Second Amendment is a right for all mankind.”
One could point out to Mr. Gingrich that many nations whose people are exquisitely well armed are still ruled by dictators (they tend to have tanks, airplanes, and training that regular old people don't have), or that said countries often have coups and factional citizen militias leading to civil wars. Or one could point out it's bizarre to suggest that gun ownership be a universal right at the expense of, say, healthcare. Or to suggest that implementing such an idea would require subsidies far in excess of the foreign food aid so despised by the Republican base.
But that would be too easy, and lead to ideological warfare. No, let's roll with Mr. Gingrich on this, and simply extend his logic.
You see, for Mr. Gingrich and his approving NRA audience, the Declaration of Independence declares that God, not government, grants human rights, including life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. So far so good. Mr. Gingrich and the NRA take the logical leap from there to argue that the Bill of Rights, written largely by the same group as wrote the Declaration, also constitute a list of God-given rights, among which is the right to bear arms. OK.
So using that logic, what other rights might we say are universal, God-given human rights, not just those granted to American citizens via the government of the United States of America? Well, there's this one:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In which case, Newt Gingrich would presumably arm the citizens of Rome to free themselves from the imposed religious tyranny of the Vatican. Or maybe this one:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
If Newt Gingrich and the NRA firmly believe that the Fifth Amendment is a God-given right to all mankind, then the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are also guaranteed the same due process and immediate trial. And since they haven't been charged with any crime as of yet, they should also presumably be given guns per their God-given 2nd Amendment rights. Or maybe this one:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Was a warrant issued for Saddam Hussein's arrest? Fidel Castro's? Salvador Allende's? Mossadegh's? What was the probable cause? Because if the Fourth Amendment is a God-given universal human right rather than a government-granted freedom, the right wing and its supporters obviously have some explaining to do. Or this:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Again, clearly the universal rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees are being abused, since these rights don't just apply to citizens of the United States. They're universal. Also, the juries should be made up of fellow Aghans since these universal human laws demand that a jury be selected from among the people in the districts in which the crimes shall have been committed. Newt Gingrich, I expect swift action on this. Or maybe this:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Now this is interesting. Since the Bill of Rights is a universal, God-given document that applies the world over, clearly it doesn't infringe on other rights already in existence. In many countries, that includes the right to universal healthcare. Which means that the French have more God-given rights than Americans do? I'm confused. But I'm sure Professor Newt and the geniuses at the NRA can clear that up quickly.
Also, if 2/3 of the states vote to alter any provision of the Bill of Rights, would that be akin to rewriting the Bible itself?
Perhaps Newt Gingrich and the NRA might want to walk this one back and concede that maybe, just maybe, the American Bill of Rights is a construct of the American government, driven by the laws of an imperfect society that strives imperfectly to be as decent to one another as human beings can be.
Nah. Blanket hypocrisy and nonsensical stupidity are much easier.