Oh, I am sorry but today I need to vent a rant!  The defense by former President Trump for attempting to use to justify an insurrection and violent suppression of Congress’ counting of the Electoral Vote is that he has the RIGHT to free speech.  Clearly in the perverted mind of Donald Trump people have rights without responsibilities.  This was never what our founding fathers intended.

Is there such a thing as a right without a responsibility? Even the “unalienable rights” from our Declaration of Independence — “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — come with the responsibility not to abridge those rights in others and when confronted with a government destructive to those ends to “throw off such Government.”  All rights have a corresponding responsibility.  This is our social contract with our government.  The Right to Free Speech comes with the right to not suppress the free speech of others.  The right to bear arms comes with the responsibility to serve in the militia (not any militia but the militia of your state or local community).  The right to a fair and speedy trial comes with the responsibility by the government to ensure due process and the responsibility of the people to serve on juries when called.  The right to fair and free elections comes with the responsibility to vote.

Donald Trump wants to hid behind his right to free speech but it is important to remember that he made this speech not as an individual citizen but as the President of the United States.  As anyone who has ever served in the military will tell you, your rights as an individual and your rights as an officer are VERY different.  Had Mr. Trump made his speech from a location other than the White House and not from behind a podium with the Great Seal of the President of the United States, then one could argue that his speech was reckless and inappropriate but not a dereliction of his sworn duty.  Once you put the uniform on, however, you are not an individual but rather the personification of that office.  Whether you are military officer or a public official, your individual rights do not extend to the authority bestowed by that office and you must behave not in your best interest but in a manner befitting that office.  I would argue that Mr. Trump failed to respect this boundary for his entire term but particularly on January 6, 2021 when the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, a persona not equal to the man but far greater, ORDERED an angry mob to attack the Congress.

There are Senators who want to go back to politics as usual but they need to act and we need to DEMAND that they do their duty.  They may have the right to say that they feel this is unfair.  They have the right to ask that we believe they had no part in creating this problem.  All this is fine so long as they understand that they also have the RESPONSIBILITY to conduct a trial and decide if our country is a republican democracy as dictated by the US Constitution, or we are a banana republic governed by plutocrats and tyrants. 

If they want to save the ideals of the party of Abraham Lincoln, if they want to drive the conservative politics of Ronald Reagan, then they need to decide whether they stand for good, or they stand for Trump.  I hope they choose to throw off the lunatic fringe.  If they cull the criminals from their ranks, they have a lot to offer nation.  If they choose to stand with and protect the criminals, then they are coconspirators, accessories to the crime.

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Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

2 replies on “Rights Imply Responsibilities”

  1. And the Supreme Court has been pretty clear that speech that puts people in immediate danger (yelling fire in a crowded theater when there isn’t a fire) can be restricted and have consequences to the speaker.


    1. Yes, but its far more than that. If a child yells “fire” in a crowded theater, its a prank, a simple indiscretion. If the Fire Marshal yells “fire” in a crowded theater its an evacuation order. When by virtue of your position or status you can compel others to take action, your right to free speech must be abridged so that it is not construed as a command. When the President stands behind the Great Seal of the Office of the President, he is not speaking as an ordinary citizen, but as our nation’s chief executive with the power to command others to take action which is what happened on January 6.

      Donald Trump wants to claim his words were a childish indiscretion but despite his lack of good judgement, he is no child and should not be given the indulgences we offer to those who haven’t learned better. At 74, if he doesn’t know how to behave, he will never learn and should not be put in a situation of power.


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