On September 4, I will be speaking to The Woodlands Tea Party on “Individual Rights and the Tea Party.” The talk will be held at 1544 Sawdust Road, Ste. 402.
The event starts at 6:30 PM, and copies of my book will be available for purchase. I hope to see you there.
One of the biggest problems facing America is the lack of tolerance that many, if not most, Americans exhibit towards others. Both leftists and conservatives are frequently very intolerant of individuals who seek values with which they disagree.
For example, leftists support a return to the “Fairness Doctrine,” which forced broadcasters to give equal time to opposing views. Unwilling to tolerate the fact that conservatives dominate talk radio, leftists want to use government coercion to achieve what the free and voluntary choices of radio listeners has denied them.
For their part, conservatives are generally intolerant of pornography and homosexuality. They want to use government coercion to deny consenting adults the freedom to engage in the sexual activities of their choosing.
In both instances, the intolerant seek to violate individual rights—the moral right of each individual to act on his own independent judgment, so long as he respects the mutual rights of others. In both instances, the intolerant seek to use government force to prohibit individuals from expressing ideas or pursuing values.
In contrast, only an advocate of individual rights is truly tolerant, for individual rights recognize and protect each individual’s freedom to act as he chooses, no matter how unpopular. Only individual rights provide a social context in which those with ideas or life styles outside of the mainstream are free from the dictates of the majority.
The intolerant believe that others should be forced to live their lives as they—the intolerant—demand. The advocate of individual rights believes that each individual should be free to live as he chooses.
This does not mean that all ideas and life styles are morally equal. Quite the contrary. Some ideas and life styles are demonstrably bad for an individual’s life and well-being. But tolerance involves accepting the fact that some individuals will choose such ideas and life styles. The intolerant reject this view, believing that individuals should be forced to act contrary to their own judgment and ideas. In my book, that isn’t very tolerant.
Historic preservationists like to tell us that they simply want to preserve our heritage. If this is true, then why is the emphasis on bricks and mortar rather than ideas? If they really want to preserve our heritage, then why do they want to save old buildings at the cost of freedom?
Unlike most nations, America was founded on an idea—the moral right of each individual to his own life, his own life liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness. This is our heritage. And this is what preservationists attack.
Preservation ordinances impose restrictions on what a property owner may do. These restrictions may include the paint colors he can use, the architectural features of the house, and even the materials that can be used. He cannot use his property as he chooses, but only as government authorities permit.
The right to property means the right to own, use, keep, and dispose of material values. It means the freedom to control that which you own, to do with your property as you choose. “Ownership” without control is a contradiction; it means that you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep (and taxes), but the use is dictated by others.
The Founding Fathers did not risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor so that future generations could dictate how their neighbors use their property. Our Founders fought for the freedom of each individual to use his property as he chooses (as long as he does not violate the mutual rights of others). They did not found this great nation so that their ancestors could marvel at old buildings. They founded America so that their ancestors could bask in the glorious sunshine of freedom.