American Freedom and Equality Continued
by David Trumbull - July 6, 2012
The drama of liberty, which we celebrated on the Fourth of July, continues. Four years after the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts framed this Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants:
All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.Those words were invoked three years later by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice William Cushing, stating:
[the words of the Constitution] declare that all men are born free and equal; and that every subject is entitled to liberty... In short slavery is in my judgment as effectively abolished as it can be by the granting of rights and privileges wholly incompatible and repugnant to its existence.It would take decades, and America's bloodiest war, to bring freedom to all Americans. Abraham Lincoln's words in 1863 at Gettysburg mark another scene in the drama:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal" Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.However, in the political and civic realm the genius for enlargement of liberties has, in recent decades, severely atrophied. On November 2, 1976, the voters of the Commonwealth adopted Amendment 106 to the Massachusetts Constitution, which added to the phrase, All people are born free and equal, the following enumeration: Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin. It is a catalog of protected classes, which, far from expanding freedom, suggests that while "all people are born free and equal" the law need only concern itself with persons so far as they are representatives of their sex, race, etc. In sum it is a denial of individual freedom in favor of group identity.
Under this political theory, which now enjoys support among the elite in our Commonwealth, persons are not equal before the law based on nothing more than shared humanity. Rather, they assert that rights arise out of membership is some particular class. There is no end to the new protected classes than politicians can pander to, to the detriment of the common good and equality of persons. And no end to the spurious new rights, which are no rights at all but merely political patronage directed at preferred classes who vote for these politicians.