life liberty property

nytimes.com
BREAKING: Edie Windsor dies at 88
Ms. Windsor’s case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and granted same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time.
By Robert D. McFadden

Edith Windsor, whose Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and brought federal recognition to marriage equality, has died at age 88. The cause of her death has not been specified. 

After living together for 40 years, Ms. Windsor and Thea Spyer, a psychologist, were legally married in Canada in 2007. Dr. Spyer died in 2009, and Ms. Windsor inherited her estate. But the Internal Revenue Service denied her the unlimited spousal exemption from federal estate taxes available to married heterosexuals, and she had to pay taxes of $363,053.

She sued, claiming that the law, by recognizing only marriages between a man and a woman, unconstitutionally singled out same-sex marriage partners for “differential treatment.”

Affirming two lower court rulings, the Supreme Court overturned the law in a 5-4 ruling, citing the Fifth Amendment guarantee that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

Edie was a pioneer in every sense of the word. She changed the world for millions of us. And she was the sweetest person, too – I met her about a year ago, told her about my recent engagement and thanked her for making it happen, and she kissed my hand and wished my future wife and I a lifetime of happiness. I will miss her. We all will. Thank you for everything, Edie.

The best part about being in law school is knowing all the laws. 

I slowly rolled down my window as the cop approached, careful to keep my hands where he could see them on the steering wheel. 

“Registration and license,” the officer commanded. 

As I made my way to the glove box, all I could think about was how people in arid areas of the United States probably get less utility out of their glove box because they never really need to store gloves in there for colder seasons, unless, of course, their use of gloves doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the climate, but rather for gripping or style reasons. 

I handed the documents to him in silence, careful to scowl at the officer just enough for him to notice but not enough for him to get angry enough to scowl back.  I had won the scowl-off.

“Do you know how fast you were going?” the policeman asked, leaning down to peer into my mysterious dark green eyes.

I breathed in deeply, filling my lungs to the brim with O2 and car air freshener.  This was my moment. 

“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.  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, passed by Congress on September 25, 1789 A.D.”

He let me off with a speeding ticket.

I live in reality; where criminals don’t obey laws, gun control doesn’t stop mass murder, and “gun free zone” signs are ignored.

A reality where there will always be someone bigger, stronger, and more violent, with a willingness or urge to kill or harm someone smaller and weaker than they are.

I live in the USA; where the law may recognize we are born with equal rights, but owning a gun will keep it that way.

So I own a gun. A gun for the protection of my right to life, liberty, and property; so I may defend my loved ones, my freedom, and what is mine, from any who would unlawfully take them away.

If you don’t like that I own a gun, you’re welcome to come and take it.

Bullets first.


4

The Hogwarts Houses as Enlightenment Philosophers Aesthetic

Slytherin as Thomas Hobbes

The author of Leviathan, Hobbes argued that the absolute power of a king comes from a choice made by his subjects, where they choose to sacrifice some of their freedoms for the sake of protection. In his view, nature was created without law and order, and that state could only be changed by civilization and authority. He also expressed a great deal of distrust toward organized religion, believing that it could be used to spark unrest and civil war. Although he was the most conservative of all of these enlightenment thinkers, as he upheld the virtue of monarchy, it was nonetheless Hobbes who first developed many ideas that influenced later thinkers: mankind’s inherent equality; the right of the individual; the need for the people’s will to be represented by their leaders; and the “social contract”, where a king only has power because of the will of the majority. 

Hufflepuff as John Locke

The author of Two Treatises of Government, Locke agreed with Hobbes on many points but disagreed on a few key things that would make him the most famous of all these thinkers and the “Father of Liberalism.” His best known contribution was the notion that, at birth, every man is endowed with natural, inalienable rights – life, liberty, and property – that cannot be given away or taken by anyone else. In Locke’s view, every person is born a “tabala rasa” (or “blank slate”), and knowledge is only gained through experience and sensory perception. Locke also believed in quiet, restrained government that only interferes when it absolutely has to, not unlike what future American revolutionaries like Thomas Jefferson would later champion. Locke favored a representative democratic government that would mainly protect property and trade and little else.

Ravenclaw as Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

The author of The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu contradicted both Locke and Hobbes, proclaiming that in nature, humans are not inherently good or wicked, but rather just weak, fearful creatures that naturally avoid violence.Therefore once mankind joins society, they lose their inherent equality and knowledge of their own mortality and learn to pursue war and conquest. It’s that thirst for war and conquest that then leads to government and the creation of laws. Montesquieu theorized that the best approach to government was to split it into distinct, separate entities – he liked the concept of three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) that could check and balance the others. This of course would later inspire the United States’ three branches of government. His idea of three would also shape his concept of the three types of government – monarchy, ruled by honor; republic, ruled by virtue; and despotism, ruled by fear.

Gryffindor as Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The author of The Social Contract, Rousseau is generally considered the most radical of these thinkers. He believed that all people are born happy and equal, only to be corrupted by society at large as they grow up. In Rousseau’s mind, the only reason that people are subservient to kings is because the lower classes were deceived into seeing higher ones as superior. Thus the so-called “social contract” is in truth a scam perpetrated by the wealthy against the rest of society. Rousseau’s central theme, however, was individuality – not only did he strongly believe in the idea of a direct democracy (rather than a representative one), but he believed all decisions, both legal and legislative, should be made “by the people” alone, and not by any sort of court or executive authority. He also championed the idea that it was more valuable for children’s education to revolve around morality and character than about imparting to them information and concepts.


Note: All of these philosophers have their strengths and weaknesses, and I’m sure all of you will have your own opinions about their theories. All I wanted to do was use these thinkers to draw parallels to the psychological split between the four houses, not dictate what everyone personally believes. Hell, I’m a Slytherin, and I personally think that each of these thinkers brought something good to the table. And I would not mind giving each of them a boot to the head for some other stupid thing they believed in. So there you go.

Literally losing Net Neutrality is going to break two our our rights. The third one is situational, seeing as our motto is ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursue[sp?] of Happiness’ and not ‘Life, Liberty, and Land(Property)’

It’s still a violation. I’ve sent my 7 emails - 2 to my senators, and 1 for each leader in the FCC (5 in total). I wrote out my message conveying my story.

Send your emails with these facts. Sign petitions and gather more information to help you.

Our rights are at stake. If you’re reading this, and haven’t sent a call or an email  (or even sign a petition if you’re NonUS) yet, what are you waiting for?

THE BILL OF RIGHTS, EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 15, 1791

Amendment I

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.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

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.

Amendment V

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 offense 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.

Amendment VI

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 defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Last week an anon asked me about my favorite little-known Supreme Court decision.  In continuing an indulgence of my nerdiness, I would like to share the first runner-up, which has been nagging at me to write about since I wrote that last post.

Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 US 206 (1953).

This case has everything.  National security threats.  A quote from Judge Learned Hand (that was seriously his name).  Reference to the “Iron Curtain.”  And two separate dissents from four different justices.  This case is legit.  

So what’s it about?  Here we go.

This is a case about a man who could not escape Ellis Island.

Mezei—referred to throughout the decision as the respondent since this case originated as an immigration proceeding—was a legal resident of the United States for twenty-five years beginning in 1923 and lived much of his life in Buffalo, New York.  He was born in Gibraltar (then and now a British territory) to Romanian and Hungarian parents.  In 1948, Mezei sailed for Hungary to visit his dying mother in Romania.  He never got there.

Little did Mezei know he was about to enter travel hell.

Denied entry to Romania, Mezei became stuck in Hungary for 19 months for lack of an exit visa.  Eventually, he obtained a visa to return to the United States, by way of France.  He got on a ship, as people did back in the day, and he steamed for the United States.  Only when he got there, an immigration official was not too impressed with his papers.  In February of 1950 Mezei was temporarily excluded from the United States.  While he waited for a final decision, the government transferred him to Ellis Island.

A few months later, without any hearing at which to argue his fate, the Attorney General ordered that Mezei’s exclusion was to be made permanent.  He could not enter the United States.

So, Mezei tried to get the hell out of Ellis Island.  Only no one would take him.  This is how the Court describes the Kafkaesque position in which Mezei found himself:

Twice he shipped out to return whence he came; France and Great Britain refused him permission to land. The State Department has unsuccessfully negotiated with Hungary for his re-admission. Respondent personally applied for entry to about a dozen Latin-American countries but all turned him down.

Mezei was essentially stateless.  He was from nowhere.  

Trapped on Ellis Island for more than a year, Mezei sued for his release—he requested to pay a bond to free him while he continued trying to find another country that would accept him. 

So what the hell was wrong with Mezei and why didn’t anyone want him?   

That’s an excellent question, and it is not entirely clear.  The Court describes it this way:  

[The] determination rested on a finding that respondent’s entry would be prejudicial to the public interest for security reasons.

Yada yada yada national security, right?  What the hell does that mean?  

That’s exactly what the lower court judge wanted to know.  In considering whether to issue the bond for his relief, the district court judge asked the government to produce evidence that Mezei was a danger to public safety.  The government refused.  They would not even show the judge their evidence in secret.  

Both the district court and the court of appeals thought that was totally bogus.  So they issued and upheld the bond.  The government appealed.

So what did the Supreme Court do?  Was Mezei ever going to be able to escape the hell of Ellis Island?

Well, this is where we come to the real question of this case:  Is a non-citizen protected by the Constitution when seeking entry into the United States?

If you have been paying attention at all to immigration law and policy over the last many months, you probably know the answer already:  Nope.  Not really.  A non-citizen does not have much, if any, constitutional protections when seeking entry into the United States.

There are a lot of questions being asked and answered in this decision:

  • Was Mezei actually admitted to the United States when he was moved to Ellis Island such that he was actually being deported instead of excluded?
  • Was Mezei a de facto prisoner on Ellis Island?
  • Was Mezei constitutionally guaranteed a hearing or proceeding at which he could view the evidence against him or argue on his own behalf?

What ends up being central to the Court’s decision here is the distinction between being excluded and being deported.  Once you have been admitted to the country, the Court acknowledges that you are owed constitutional protection that includes a due process right to some sort of process or proceeding to contest your removal.  But when you’re outside and wanting to enter, you are not owed those same rights.  

Suffice it to say, not all of the justices agreed.  Four of them about done lost their minds.  Here is Justice Black in his dissent, co-signed by Justice Douglas:

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON forcefully points out the danger in the Court’s holding that Mezei’s liberty is completely at the mercy of the unreviewable discretion of the Attorney General. I join MR. JUSTICE JACKSON in the belief that Mezei’s continued imprisonment without a hearing violates due process of law.

No society is free where government makes one person’s liberty depend upon the arbitrary will of another. Dictatorships have done this since time immemorial. They do now. 

Note that Justice Black straight up refers to Mezei’s status on Ellis Island as “imprisonment,” while the Court’s decision refers to it merely as “exclusion.”

In Justice Jackson’s dissent, co-signed by Justice Frankfurter, he starts off with a bang:

Fortunately it still is startling, in this country, to find a person held indefinitely in executive custody without accusation of crime or judicial trial.

And then he runs through all the hits of history.  American oppression under British colonial rule, American slavery, communism, Nazism.  I could go on.  But in doing so Justice Jackson makes a passionate case for due process of law—generally and in the immigration process.  

Why is this case relevant?

If it isn’t apparent so far, let me lay it out for you.  The specter of a national security threat is doing heavy-lifting in the majority’s opinion in this case.  In distinguishing Mezei’s situation from others where immigrants have been treated more fairly, the Court points out that Mezei was “behind the Iron Curtain for 19 months.”  At this point, the Court has not seen any evidence about what threat to the public or national security Mezei represents.  The government has not produced any.  But the Court is still willing to look on Mezei’s months stuck in Hungary with suspicion.  

This case does not remain a strong legal precedent as it once was (take a look at Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 US 678 (2001) if you’re curious).  But much of it still holds, and more importantly, it follows a familiar, well-trodden path.

Throughout the history of our country, national security threats have been used to justify some of our most shameful acts—from Japanese internment to COINTELPRO and the House Un-American Activities Committee, just to name a handful.  Though time provides us with sufficient perspective to regret these dark moments, we seem doomed to repeat them.  

In his dissent, Justice Jackson concludes with these ever-relevant words:

Congress has ample power to determine whom we will admit to our shores and by what means it will effectuate its exclusion policy. The only limitation is that it may not do so by authorizing United States officers to take without due process of law the life, the liberty or the property of an alien who has come within our jurisdiction; and that means he must meet a fair hearing with fair notice of the charges.

It is inconceivable to me that this measure of simple justice and fair dealing would menace the security of this country. No one can make me believe that we are that far gone.

cnn.com
Meet the kids suing Donald Trump
21 young people are taking Trump and members of his administration to federal court over inaction on global warming. On Saturday, several of these "climate kid' plaintiffs -- the youngest is 9 -- will walk alongside the chanting and sign-pumping adults at the March for Climate, Jobs and Justice in Washington.
By John D. Sutter, CNN

“Their lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Oregon, initially targeted then-President Barack Obama and his administration. Last year, it survived motions by industry and government to dismiss the case. It has taken on new significance in the first 100 days of Trump’s tenure. The President has famously called climate change a hoax, and members of his Cabinet have equivocated on the science  … They’re arguing on constitutional grounds that their rights to life, liberty and property are being violated by runaway climate change. Their attorneys also say these kids and others are being discriminated against as a class of people. Since they’re young, they will live longer into the climate-changed future.”

<3

THE BILL OF RIGHTS – FULL TEXT

Just for reference:

Amendment I

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.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

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.

Amendment V

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 offense 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.

Amendment VI

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 defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

America’s Japanese experienced racism, both personal and institutional, in various shades and forms. Like other minority groups, the Japanese, from Hawaii’s plantations to Washington, D.C.’s streets, were the targets of hateful words, dung, and fists hurled at them, were circumscribed by housing and employment discrimination sanctioned as social practice, and faced legal impediments to citizenship and the guarantees of life, liberty, and property. The second generation, although U.S. citizens by birth, were the objects of special scrutiny as to their loyalty and were presented with the choice of abandoning their parents and culture to become “good and loyal American citizens” or remaining Japanese and facing ridicule and contempt. And despite acculturation, the nisei encountered racism that led to marginality, self-hatred, and stunted economic opportunities.
—  Whispered Silences by Gary Y Okihiro
You exist in time: future, present, and past. This is manifest in life, liberty, and the product of your life and liberty [property]. The exercise of choices over life and liberty is your prosperity. To lose your life is to lose your future. To lose your liberty is to lose your present. And to lose the product of your life and liberty is to lose the portion of your past that produced it.
—  Ken Schoolland (1950-) Professor of Economics 

rebelpride927  asked:

I have a question that I can't seem to figure out myself. I'm not looking for an aggressive argument, I just want an answer. Why is it that the pro-lifers are so anti-extended maternity leave and free healthcare options for mothers? Wouldn't you wanna give that mother and child all the possibilities of living a decent life? Not one in poverty or bad health? THAT is more pro-life than anything...

Fair question, however, I think you will find that the two positions aren’t necessarily connected. The reason it seems that way is because the pro-lifers you see also being “anti-extended maternity leave” and anti-”free” health care options are also conservative. This means that as a rule they value freedom over coercion. So in that respect, we aren’t anti-extended maternity leave at all. In fact, I am all for extended maternity leave, as long as it is voluntarily provided. Something which business are beginning to do with more frequency. I will even take it a step further, I am also for women( or men for that matter) having semi-permanent maternity leave, that is, staying home with their children should they choose to, and the primary way to do this is by re-building of the nuclear family and increasing wages for the primary earner.  

What I have a problem with is forcing companies to provide these benefits .  While they seem to be “free”, in reality that money comes from somewhere and I don’t believe you have a right to take another person’s money just because you chose to have a child. Furthermore, I think that a few extra months with your child, while beneficial for bonding and development, will not solve financial issues since eventually the mother will have to go back to work long before the child is ready for school. So forcing others to subsidize their life doesn’t even solve the problem you are proposing it will solve.

In addition, I disagree with the idea that forcing others to fund your life choices is more pro-life than actually not killing children. A child can live and have a wonderful life full of love and happiness without a couple months of extra time with mom, but they can’t survive being yanked out of the womb early with a pair of forceps. So I still think not killing the child is more pro-life than being opposed to forcing others to provide for the child.

So to summarize, it is all about rights and force.  What right do you have to seize the property of others? What right do you have to end the life of another person? and because both of these positions emphasize the rights of the individual to retain their life, liberty and property, they can co-exist perfectly well.

Hey y'all I have a question and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. So I’ve always believed that pornography and prostitution are evil. I believe that they are perversions of beautiful, good, and healthy sexual relationships and that they are immensely detrimental–physically and/or psychologically–to all those involved. I believe that pornography and prostitution are things that we should encourage our culture to fight, and that in their stead we should focus on fostering healthy relationships filled with love and respect.

When it comes to the morality of pornography and prostitution, my beliefs are definite and unwavering. However, the question I have difficulty answering and would love your opinion on, is whether or not it should be illegal.

I want to say yes, but I also believe that the best government is a limited government whose primary function is to protect the rights of its citizens (these rights being life, liberty, and property). And I don’t know if these two beliefs are compatible or not. There are a lot of things I believe are immoral that I don’t believe should be punished by law. Some examples would be: cheating on one’s spouse or drinking to excess and becoming drunk (being drunk and disorderly/drunk driving is another matter however), yet I would never say that these should be punished by law, because while these actions may cause harm they don’t violate a person’s right to life, liberty, or property. But I also believe that to sell one’s body, even if one does it willingly, is a form of slavery. It makes the human person an object, and we’re so much more than that. Anyway I have no idea what my belief is on the legality of the issue and I’d like to hear what you all think.

So just to clarify: I don’t want a debate on whether pornography and prostitution is good or bad, for the sake of this discussion, the answer is “it is immoral.” My question is this: Having already established that pornography and prostitution are immoral, should they be illegal. Why? And if it should be illegal, are my views on a government’s role in our lives compatible or must my views on government change?

Fjarlsland: Declarations of Rights

All individuals are endowed with unalienable rights, including but not limited to, life, liberty, and property by virtue of their freewill, reason, and humanity. This charter seeks to make explicit some, but not all of those rights.

1 - Right of Conscience) There shall be no infringement of the individual’s right to speech, assembly, association, contract, or religious practice, but the above shall violate the right of bodily integrity of minors or other infringement upon other’s rights to life, liberty and property.

2 - Right of Self Defense) The individual maintains the right to keep and bear whatever arms they see fit and in any manner they see fit for defense of their lives, liberty and property, Nothing above shall exempt an individual from liability if the life, liberty, or property of innocent parties are damaged in the course of self-defense.

3 - Right of Liberty) No person may enslave another, by force or by debt. An individual may make themselves free of debt through a sale of all property which is not owned free and clear. Property which is owned free and clear cannot be taken as payment for a debt.

4 - Right of Trade) There shall be no restriction on the right of individuals, who mutually consent, to trade in goods and services, to make contracts, to issue insurance, to provide loans, to furnish gifts or donations, and to wager bets. However insurance may not be issued to protect property used in the commission of a crime or gained as the result of crime. Loans cannot be made with self-servitude or stolen property as a lien or collateral. Bets may not be made on the outcome of public trials.

5- Right to Property) Any individual may own justly acquired property. All property is transferable as free and clear. Previous owners may not restrict current owners. Reasonable easements must be granted to owners to access and use property. Just compensation for damages shall be determined by a jury of peers, if private dispute cannot resolve.

6- Right of Self-Ownership) Individuals have a right to their lives and bodies, the right to use any mind-altering substance, medicine, or voluntary euthanasia shall not be infringed. Nothing above shall relieve the individual of liability in case of a crime committed while under the influence of mind-altering substances.

7 - Right of Trial by Combat) All grievances may be settled by personal combat, if mutually agreed upon personal combat must take place between the parties and seconds can only be substituted if mutually consented upon.

8 - Right of Trial by Jury) Otherwise, only a unanimous jury of peers may convict a person of a crime. .. No one may be tried twice for the same crime, forced to testify or confess against themselves or their family, or tried in a jurisdiction beside the one in which the crime took place. All trials must commence within a year of the alleged crime. Bail must be offered to all accused.  Juries shall only be composed of those who own property free and clear.

9 - Rights of Those Convicted of Crimes)  There shall be no punishment aside from compensation for damages to life liberty and property or exile.   The convicted may choose their punishment from those prescribed by the jury. Compensation may not exceed the the gross worth of the individuals property or 20 years of the individuals income, whichever is greater. Exile may last no more than  20 years

10 - Right of Privacy) All searches for slaves and stolen property will be conducted with prior notice and instructions for the places to be searched. Such warrants will be issued by a jury of peers. Juries which issue false warrants are liable.

 11 Definition of Crime) Crime is defined as an act which violates another individual’s lives, liberty and property. There can be no crimes committed against oneself.

12 - Equal Rights) No right shall be infringed upon with any basis of sex, race, age, creed, illness, or title to property.

13 - Right to Voluntary Society)The services rendered by the Commonwealth shall be to defend life, liberty, and property, to provide mutual defense, and to provide public trial. Services rendered to or by the Commonwealth shall be voluntary, and all property leased by the Commonwealth shall be gathered through voluntary trade, gift, donation, loan, or sale. The Commonwealth may not engage in conscription, education, tax, monopoly, tariff, regulation, counterfeit, subsidization, print or coin money, or plunder. The commonwealth must re-purchase any property it leases for more than 20 years.

@grumpyvikingdidnothingwrong @john-paul-jonesing-for-liberty @quitefranklytv

Lazy Writing and the Hero of Destiny

You’ve heard it before a thousand times.

“You alone can complete this quest.” “You alone have the necessary courage, moral fortitude, etc.” “You were chosen by the ancient prophecy.” “You/I have to be the one to do this.”

But why?

Mainly, the reason why is because the author doesn’t know why. The author doesn’t know why a person would get off their couch to fight the alien invasion, to rebel against the evil government, or to stop the Sealed Evil in a Can from escaping.

But our hero is pure of heart! He believes in the Forces of Good, in principles, in Truth and Justice and Love!

So do many people. But hardly anyone is willing to get off their butt and take personal responsibility for The Fate of the World based on an abstraction. What your character needs is a direct, personal connection to the threat, something that compels them personally to act. This is what I call the Catalyst.

The Ancient Prophecy is a poor substitute for the catalyst. One Ancient Gatekeeper talking about Destiny is not enough to get most people to leave their family for a faraway land and risk their lives.

There are cases where this can be believable. Children are curious enough to wander into magical lands. People bored with their lives or wanting to prove themselves can be roped into many things. But this is not the same as abstract destiny.

The bystander effect is a thing that exists in real life. If you do not apply its effects to your characters, their actions will not be believable. Most of us are willing to leave dangerous jobs to someone better qualified. We are ready to assume that someone else will take care of it, or stand aside when things don’t affect us. It takes motivation beyond the ordinary to make people do extraordinary things. People need more than just to know about the problem. They need a catalyst to spur them to action.

I’m not being cynical, just realistic. Truth and Justice are great reasons to lead an army against the Evil Overlord but they are also great reasons to step down and let someone else with better practical qualifications lead.


So: why does your character have to be the hero of their story?

Here are some great ideas for the Catalyst that don’t involve Destiny:

  • Character’s life, liberty, or property is being threatened

(I am on the run from someone trying to kill me) (I have to break out of this prison) (I must fight the Evil Overlord he is coming to take my land)

  • Someone the character loves is in danger

(The Evil Overlord kidnapped my father) (If I don’t find a cure then my sister will die)

  • He/she is the only one with the necessary acquired skills to complete a specific task

(I have been hired because I am the most skilled spy/computer hacker/detective/whatever) (I have leadership experience and I know I must take the helm for this project to succeed)

  • The character just happens to be in the right place at the right time

(it could have been anyone) (I was the only person who saw that man being mugged) (I was stranded on a deserted island/planet by accident)

  • The character has a direct, personal connection with the antagonist

(The antagonist is my former friend and I may be able to talk them out of doing something evil) (The antagonist is my son and therefore stopping his plans is my responsibility) (Because the antagonist and I have a history, I am the only one who can get close enough to learn/foil his plan)

  • He/she has more information about the problem than anyone else

(I am the only one who knows the layout of the castle) (I have just been informed that we are about to be attacked, no one else knows this yet)

  • Character’s status gives them responsibility over the situation

(I have been commissioned by my superior officer to perform this task) (I am the oldest sibling and therefore in charge) (I am the leader of this nation/army and therefore this problem defaults to me)

If the only reason your main character has to forward the plot is because they are the hero of destiny, that is lazy writing. Of course, Tropes are Tools. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having your character be the subject of a prophecy. Likewise being influenced by abstract principles;  you just have to set up in their character development why it is that those principles mean so much to them.

Also, this does not exclude the idea of an underdog. You can have a nobody, an everyman, an orphaned child rise to greatness. But there are other reasons for them to engage themselves than being the hero of destiny. It’s up to you to figure out what those reasons are.