Sun 6 May, 2007 01:09 pm
In PLANNED PARENTHOOD v. CASEY (1992) 112 S.Ct. 2791 (P. 28O5)
the US Supreme Court declares that:
"...by the express provisions of the FIRST EIGHT amendments to the
Constitution " rights were "guaranteed to THE INDIVIDUAL ...
It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal
liberty which the government may not enter. " [emphasis added]
The 2nd Amendment is within " the first eight amendments ".
In this case, referring to the citizens' right to reproductive autonomy,
the USSC also says that :
" Our law affords constitutional protection
to PERSONAL DECISIONS. ... Our cases recognize
'the right of the individual ...
to be free from unwarranted governmental
intrusion into matters ... fundamentally
affecting a person' .... These matters
involving the most intimate and PERSONAL
CHOICES a person may make in a lifetime,
choices central to PERSONAL DIGNITY and
AUTONOMY, are central to the liberty protected
by the 14th Amendment." (P. 28O7)
Let us ANALOGIZE this reasoning to situations bearing upon the right to self defense:
a garage in Brooklyn was raided by a criminal who was NOT SATISFIED
TO ROB its attendant, caused him to take a supine position, whereupon he
committed an indecent, unsanitary act all over him; criminals have vented
their sadism upon their victims, in grotesque and unseemly ways.
I submit, for your consideration, that THE QUESTION OF WHETHER TO
PEACEFULLY SUBMIT ( " better Red than dead " ), to robbery or sexual violation
(and/or to your own murder) OR TO FORCEFULLY RESIST
IS A " personal decision ...fundamentally affecting a person...
and bearing upon ..." personal dignity and autonomy...."
The individual citizen literally wagers his life on his choice.
Is the choice of whether to abandon your years of future life ( or death )
to the discretion of a violent criminal predator a PERSONAL DECISION ?
An interesting philosophical question, government policy left aside.
Were the only effect of violence felt upon yourself, then of course, it would be a highly personal decision. However, this usually isn't the case. Many acts of violence are not isolated - a robber will probably rob again if he's not stopped, a rapist will probably rape again if he's not stopped. Some murders are indeed personal and unlikely to be repeated, but some are just reflective of the criminal's lack of respect for human life, and would be likely to happen again.
Therefore, all other factors being equal, you have a responsibility to society to defend it against criminal behavior, in addition to your own protection.
However, all other factors aren't equal. Defending yourself against criminal acts may increase your personal chance of suffering injury or death. It might be the duty of each of thirty people in a crowd to rush a gunman, to prevent him from continuing a killing spree, but at the same time it's likely to be pretty hard on the first guy.
Society rarely requires a member of the general public to risk life and limb in its service. You are required to stop and render aid if you see someone who's been hurt, but you're not required to jump into a river to save a drowning man - those who do are not performing the duties expected of a citizen, but are extolled as heroes.
So in reality there's a balancing act between your responsibility to society to, by defending yourself, prevent future violence against others, and between your right to preserve your own life. You do have the first duty, but duty can't call for the second except in certain specialized circumstances (usually dealing with which profession you're in - a cop or a soldier really can be called on to risk themselves.)
Certainly, though, the right to self-defense trumps your responsibility to peaceably follow the law, following the same reasoning - the law can't ask you to sit there and die. It might be illegal to stab someone with a knife, but if they're trying to rape you, you can open their throat up without legal repercussions. So it's -at least- a personal choice in that you are not denied the right to self-defense under any circumstances; if you don't want to exercise it, that's your call, subject to the duty you have to your fellow citizens. (One points out that if you've already abandoned hope of survival, then at that point there's no reason NOT to fight - you're dead either way, so you might as well fulfill your duty. So only when declining to engage in self-defense materially increases your chances of survival - i.e. "do what the mugger tells you to do and he'll let you go" - are you justified in not defending yourself.)
Oh, and a style tip - less emphasis is good! If you have to do some emphasis, pick one method and stick with it. Using all caps, and also bold, and also green text, makes your post look rather incoherent (which, in fact, it is...)
I agree with Avatar ADV that this is (a) an interesting question and (b) fairly incoherent. Since one cannot be forced legally or otherwise to defend oneself, and since the citation of a legal opinion is immaterial to the philosophical question, and since this post is in "Politics," I'd wager there's a pro-firearm ownership motif there somewhere.
That aside, this is a fairly simple question. Since no one can decide for another whether to defend oneself, self-defense is a personal choice. No governing body has the inherent right to either force or prevent one from defending oneself. However, since there is some disagreement among rational non-criminals over what constitutes self-defense, the government has some duty to delineate guidelines for what constitutes self-defense.
The point Avatar ADV makes about the dual demands of duty and personal survival has merit. There is, of course, the pacifist perspective that all violence begets more violence and even an act of violence committed in self-defense increases the amount of evil and suffering in the world. I don't hold with that philosophy personally, but one must admire the level of conviction and courage it requires.
The USSC makes the point that:
if the option of self defense is a
central to PERSONAL DIGNITY and
AUTONOMY, then that choice is
" central to the liberty protected
by the 14th Amendment