Thoreau on Schiavo
The right to life trumps the right to privacy? Since when did we have a hierarchy of rights? I thought all rights were created equal, so to speak.
There’s something extremely confusing and dangerous going on right now, and this Schiavo case is at its center. People on the right are falling all over themselves to compromise their own principles. And not just on rights, but on the place of government. And they are doing this even though the majority of the population thinks they are wrong.
But why? Why this extraordinary legislative action?
I have been reading Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” and some of his comments are appropriate to the situation. Thoreau was an advocate of minimal government, just as the right is (supposedly). He wrote, as part of his explanation of his position:
The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.
And that is exactly what is happening now. Our government is being stolen. No longer does it reflect the will of the people. Certainly, it doesn’t in this case.
One of Thoreau’s next statements would have seemed (before this weekend) to be at the center of the philosophy of the right:
For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it.
Yet they are forcing governmental intervention into the business of one specific family faced with a tragic situation. Tragic, no matter the result.
Speaking of the government of his time, Thoreau wrote:
How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.
I have been horrified by our contemporary government for some years (though not as much as many of you, who have been screaming much louder than I–who may have been much more on the money than I). Until today, however, I had not felt disgraced by it. Move over, those of you much more radical than I have been, much more worried by the right: I want a seat on your bench.
This disgrace makes me extraordinarily angry, more so because I can’t make any sense of it.
Not unless, and this scares me nearly to death, this is another wedge, another (but even more nefarious and calculated) step towards greater government in the name of less, of diminuition of individual rights in the name of greater needs. Towards a totalitarianism formed in the name of freedom.
I hope not… but I fear, I fear.