By Siggy Raible
Choice: when is an individual’s right to choose an accepted right? Today, the meanings of choice and life are up for grabs and increasingly in conflict with our country’s ideals—the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—as expressed in our Declaration of Independence.
For instance, to be mandated to wear a mask to protect the health of all human life during the era of COVID is considered by many people in the United States to be an intrusion on their individual rights. It is argued that the right to wear a mask should be left up to the individual. I would argue that your right not to wear a mask should not adversely impact my life.
Now, compare this perceived right to un-mask to two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions rendered during the last week of June: the right to an abortion and the right to bear arms in public.
First, there is the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This decision, rendered in a six-three vote, overturns a right long-held (almost 50 years) whereby women/persons of childbearing age could decide whether to terminate a pregnancy. Without getting into the weeds of the decision, suffice it to say that states will now determine whether, when, and how a pregnancy is to be terminated. The right of a woman (herein I will use woman to also refer to “persons of childbearing age”) to determine what happens to her body won’t be hers, but rather the precinct of state legislators.
During the same week, in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the same court ruled again in a six-three decision that law-abiding citizens of New York State should not be required to show proper cause to carry a concealed pistol in public. The court ruled that states cannot impinge on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, whether in the home or in public. Well, it seems to me that, my right to life, free from the fear of a pistol-packing mama (or more likely, papa), is impinged upon unless I too decide to carry. (Which brings up the next question, is my pistol the equivalent to your AR15?)
Speaking of the Second Amendment, why does any individual need to carry a firearm in public? The amendment reads as follows: “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.” Today we have several levels of well-regulated militias—federal, state, and local policing authorities. So, I would argue, why in heaven’s name do we need more armed men and women when we presumably have enough deputized men and women who carry weapons and are empowered to carry out the laws we had a hand in creating? Does right make might, or might make right?
So, for your consideration I offer the following conundrum: Why is it that we find acceptable the fact that individual decision-making is okay when masks are involved, not acceptable when a woman’s body is at issue, and acceptable for those who choose to bear arms (in a country where we all presumably live under the rule of law)?
Embrace the Absurd!