"...The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document.
The First Amendment doesn't say you have a right to speak out unless
the government has a 'compelling interest' in censoring the Internet.
The Second Amendment doesn't say you have the right to
keep and bear arms until some madman plants a bomb.
The Fourth Amendment doesn't say you have the right to be secure from
search and seizure unless some FBI agent thinks you fit the profile
of a terrorist. The government has no right to interfere with any
of these freedoms under any circumstances."
by:
Harry Browne
(1933-2006) American libertarian writer, politician, and free-market investment analyst. Libertarian candidate for US President 1996 & 2000
Date:
1966
Rating:
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Reader comments about this quote:
right on. very pertinent to the current times.
 -- Daniel, Santa Clara, CA     
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    As I have said before, thank God the founders gave us a Republic, built on these natural and inalienable laws -- laws that the majority can never take away -- laws that were given to each and every individual by their "Creator" -- laws that have proven historically invaluable in many cultures and times in maintaining individual rights and protection! Damn democracy and its anarchical/socialist philosophies! Long live the Republic!
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Hear Hear! Abolish the Patriot Act, the Emergency Measures Act, the Military Commissions Act and all other legalized powers of control grabbed under the "Guise of Security".We don't protect our freedoms by taking them away.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Absolutely, thank you Logan and J Carlton.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    "America shall be ruled from the middle" (Dwight David Eisenhower) and now we know what fringe guys like Mr. Browne never get anywhere. Why people complain about the infringement of these rights in the most outspoken, most armed, most church goingest nation, and most admired democracy on the planet (maybe in the whole universe) is beyond me. It has been upheld that The Bill of Rights do not override common sense. You have no absolute right to yell Fire! in a theatre. Shame on Mr. Browne for not knowing this childhood learned exception to absolutism. Thus his absolute argument is null and void.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    This is what our Bill of Rights is all about -- specifically enumerated limits that the government may not cross. And when legislators pass laws that disobey these limits, they should be fired and charged -- it is nothing short of treason. We don't have to wait for the next election to get rid of government officials who disregard the Constitution -- after all, this is not a democracy. The Constitution is our best security -- we don't throw it away in times of emergency.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Waffler, if you and Eisenhower are correct about today's government, and I have no doubt that you are, the Bill of Rights and the rule of law is dead, as the U.S. and its subsequent appendages are absolutely ruled by man. I'm with Logan, long live the Republic with the Creator's given inalienable rights.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    It was "fringe guys like Browne" who wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and included within the Constitution only ONE guarantee, "a Republican form of government" (U.S. Constitution: Article IV, Section 4).
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Waffler has a point for a change. Bill of rights are ok but the purist would have to note that the fact that we have the bill of rights imply that our rights must be listed by the government. The fact is it should be the opposite. The list should be of what we must be denied for our own good. All else the government keeps its hands off.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    warren, you make a common mistake -- the Bill of Rights does not confer rights to the People. On the contrary, it specifically says that "Congress shall make no law that abridges the right to..." In other words, it is an addendum that makes the rules of the government even clearer -- you may not pass laws that restrict speech, religion, possession of arms, right to trial, etc., etc.. This is an important point. The 10th amendment even goes as far as to say that the People have rights NOT enumerated and that the Constitution (and its Bill of Rights) do not grant rights to anyone but merely explicitly state that Congress cannot encroach upon these rights specifically -- ever. Remember, the Constitution is written in first person plural -- We The People are making this declaration about what our servant government may do -- not the other way around like the constitutions of most any other nation (i.e. England, Canada, new Iraq, France, etc.)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Amen, Thank you Mr. Browne for speaking clearly and straightforwardly that no one has the right to censor or deny our rights under the Bill of Rights even when they are President who likes to try to circumvent the law by writing Executive Orders, or pre-writing the Patriot Act "prior to 9-11". This administration is out of order and should be thrown out on the streets, or more appropraitely be hung.
     -- Judith A. Pecho, Corrales     
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    Yes except subject to definition. For example what are arms. Do arms include ballistic missiles. Also not absolute because it is subject to Amendment. Can we thus amend the Constitution to remove the Bill of Rights. I think we can. So it and they are not Absolute. Only the People are Absolute.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, the people are absolute ? What the heck does that mean ? The people that voted for Obama were absolutely nuts, maybe that's what it means. As to the quote, it's too bad that Mr Browne wasn't elected. He would have been far better than what we got.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    if you have the money to buy a ballistic missle why not own one. But really now, In my law class we debate the 2nd amendment all the time, here is the best answer I ever heard about firearms. If you have to tow it, then you shouldn't be allowed to own it! and I loved that answer! I am also the local candidate for sheriff, and I do not believe in any gun control laws. If your not a felon, no restrictions on what you can own. That goes for class 3 weapons also.And this quote is great!! the only people those that want to change the laws will effect are the working class and poor. The elite make the laws to benefit them , not society. In Pa. the rich changed the laws, we don't have embezllement any more only theft. The elite looking out for the elite!
     -- The " New " Sheriff, Venango County     
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    Waffler says we do not have the right to holler "Fire!" in a theater. This is correct, but misused. I am licensed (movie ticket) to sit and watch a movie, and I agree not to disturb the audience and the theater owner's ability to make money by falsely hollering "Fire!" But in the purely public domain, I should be free to holler anything I want, with the point being the govt is not to make excuses to take this right away. But it will, it always does. It appears far too often the govt is the one hollering "Fire!" --in order to take away rights.
     -- Paul, Gig Harbor, WA     
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    Waffler doesn't understand inalienable, justice, injustice, compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny, law, lawful, or when any given event, performed at different times, under different circumstances may be lawful or unlawful. AND, as for The "New" Sheriff, WOW, I'd vote for you.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I agree with you Logan and add so that it might be understood closer to the natural law truth of it ----"laws that were given to each and every individual by their "Creator" -- laws that have proven historically invaluable in many cultures and times in maintaining individual rights and protection..." and laws that have proven in many cultures and times the only laws that have ensured mankinds survival because the free exercise of those laws which are rights are the very survival tools nature's Creator gave to each and every individual and by nature if one individual survives in this way so too all individuals and thus the natural beginning point for cooperative society in those cultures and times you spoke of that through upheaval re-ensured the survival of mankind.
     -- Anon     
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    People like Waffler peck away at details overlooked by Conceptualists because they can't argue with the principles. They seek to divert us from those principles to take away the power that those principles support. Don't get trapped in his games.
     -- Roxy, Olympia     
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    Well said E. Archer, Logan, and Mike. ___ "It is my belief that there are 'absolutes' in our Bill of Rights, and that they were put there on purpose by men who knew what the words meant and meant their prohibitions to be 'absolutes.'" -- Justice Hugo L. Black (http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote/hugo_black_quote_8f10)
     -- A.WOODS, Gloucester     
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    It is sad that Roxy and probably many others think only in generalities. She does not even no mean and she says "people like Waffler". "And don't play my games" would make someone believe that she is actually afraid of FREE SPEECH, intelligent exchange and FREEDOM itself. I ask again can the people via the Constitutional Amendment Process remove the Bill of Rights, deny freedom of speech, religion etcetera. I understand COMPELLED COMPLIANCE completely and utterly It is simply LAW: rules and customs passed by a community as binding upon its members. I have told this to Mike before; he never learns or stops using the phrase. He is still crazy after all of these years.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Pure absolute american truth.period. Waffer, it pretty hard to get a cruise missle bro, you have millions? The same goes for nukes, and you really should e mail Iran, and tell them , your thoughts. waffer, ok, with full respect im gonna tell ya the bottom line, SOMEONE will have the biggest stick, it is what it is, it has been that way, for all of time, Im happy, the USA has the biggest stick right now. the USA could have used our nuclear power many times, and we have been so close to it many times, thats another story. When ya say who should and should not have nukes, think of nobama...and his people.will they protect us? will they ?? Most of us dont think so. Close, only counts in horseshoes, handgrenades, and nukes. waffer, we try so dam hard to reach you bro. Waffer, bro, some of us here have seen war, bro, it is not what ya think it is bro. trust me.waffer, it is VAST, DEEP, and on edge. And, the USA STILL has the biggest hammer, thank God, but, it is obvious we are a good people, we have not used it.YET
     -- Kimo, USA     
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    Lastly, there are some VERY intelligent men posting here, im not the smartest, and i know it, thats the beginning, when ya know ur place.
     -- Kimo, USA     
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    I'm surprised he left out the 5th amendment as that also has been gutted by our gov't. One can be forced to testify if given a grant of immunity. Sorry friends, that's not what it says. The first ten amenments - The Bill of Rights - was a requirement to be added to the Constitution in order to gain its approval. It was to make sure that there was no mistake about the delineated rights it contained. That is why the erosion of those rights is a curse which must be fought by all Americans. George Washington was the tall, strong hero on a white horse who could have been king, but refused. He also limited himself to two terms, setting a precedent that survived until FDR opted to end it. I'm not sure the amendment that eliminated that option was correct, but it was passed and we are stuck with it. We live in a time when the wisdom of our founding fathers is trivialized by too many people who should know better. The current swing to the far left may be the death of our whole system. I'm old. I can only pray to the Creator for our continuance in His good humor.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
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    The Bill of Rights does not over ride "common Sense" Waffler? Guess what! There's no such thing as common sense...that's "why" we have the Bill of Rights.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Waffler, working off your "Only the People are Absolute" makes government edicts invalid when they are contrary to the inherent, inalienable, and absolute rights of the individual. Waffler, I've asked you repeatedly over the years to explain the lawful nexus that is capable of taking the inherent, inalienable, and absolute rights from the individual and give it to an arbitrary abstract (like government). Your only over-riding answer is the more and the bigger has greater force. hmmm - not Constitutional, moral, lawful, or right. To your question, yes the Bill of Rights could be amended out of existence BUT ! ! !, the rights they describe can NOT ! ! ! In the free representative republic, the de jure Constitution describes the limitations of the representatives of We The People - not We The People directly. When the government no longer represents you or me personally and our individual rights, it is no longer a government of We The People but becomes a democracy, socialistic theocracy, or other form of unconstitutional despotism / tyranny. The Constitutional government can not compel a free man's compliance, make a license, invent a victimless crime, commit larceny against its inferiors (theft of the noble laborer's fruit, creation of funny money, etc.) or direct its actions concerning the individual in any way. A criminal act, at justice, is when harm is committed against an innocent third party, not just the anticipation of a no no. The Constitutional Republic, representing We The People can NOT lawfully do anything that you or I can not do individually (if it does, it is tyranny, despotism and contrary to the principles and law that the Constitution was built upon). That I could rate this quote with innumerable stars ! Editor, thank you !
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    IT'S BEEN SAID MANY TIMES THAT WAFFLER IS AS USEFUL AS TITS ON A BOAR AND I SEE NO IMPROVEMENTS. As for the Bill of Rights, it has been superseded by Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. Refuse to waive your rights on tax returns for Marx and see where you get with the Bill of Rights! The first 3 planks of said Manifesto saddled us with the illusions called real estate, income and in heritance taxes. ILLUSIONS when the Fed said "deposits are merely book entries." page 3, Modern Money Mechanics. The IRS (Imaginary Revenue Scam) asks no one for "money", they only ask for paper. If you offered them money (gold or silver" they would have no place for it because collecting money is not their job! They want paper checks that authorize banks to reduce our book entries and thus regulate the ratio of production to consumption lest consumption exceeds production and the Marxist systen collapses as the worthless money becomes useless paper. J.M. Keynes wrote in 1920: "If governments should refrain from regulation, (taxes, etc.) the worthlessness of the money becomes apparent and the fraud upon the public can be concealed no longer." --The Economic Consequences of The Peace.
    See Marx's 10 planks. In Jan. 1944, the head of the New York Fed gave a speech saying "taxation for revenue is obsolete." His name was Beardsley Ruml. You can google his name with "obsolete" and you can read comments on that speech by the late great Alan Stang.
     -- Dave Wilber, St. Louis     
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    When a nation ceases to be moral it will cease to be free. The Gov. will not only yell "Fire" in a theater it will start the fire, the war, the oppression, the disaster and blame it on one group over another to maintain their control over you."' What causes the fights and quarrels among you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, so you try to take it away from them. The reason you don't have what you want is you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong. You want only what will give you pleasure". James 4: 1-3.There is no repentance in this country anymore from any collective power structure, Dems,Reps, Big energy, Big Banks,Big Military, Big Unions. The order of the day is greed, the one fatal flaw of all man made Governments is man's own human sinful nature.. It is allthe other guys fault and greed rules
     -- Sailorswind, Cadillac     
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    Waffler - Had an earwig crawl into his ear years ago and therefore his capacity for true objective rational deductions was long ago lost when the earwig buzzed out any and all meaningful sense.
     -- Mary-MI     
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    Harry Browne could never be a democrat or a republican. He was a great Libertarian.
     -- cal, Lewisville, tx     
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    To be clear, the definition of 'arms' in the Bill of Rights refers to the typical arms carried by the military. Canons were privately owned and secured at the local armory under civilian control -- and also placed in key locations for immediate use in defense. ALL arms are to be under the civil power, 'civil' meaning under the control of the citizens, not the military exclusively. The individual States were to provide education and training in their use, but never to prohibit law-abiding citizens from possessing and carrying them. The right to be armed extends from the right to defend oneself -- all animals in Nature have the responsibility to defend themselves from predators, and their ability to do so depends on whether they have the power to do so, otherwise they are 'prey'. Human predators will do whatever they can to minimize the risk of attacking their prey. When government becomes the predator, only the citizens who have the power to match the power of the predators can hope to survive and remain free. The power to defend oneself is the only thing standing in the way of totalitarianism and the police state.

    The salient point is RESPONSIBILITY for one's actions. It cannot be made a crime to simply possess deadly power -- only the use of that power IF it is used with criminal intent. It is not a crime to not report how much power you have (whether in money, arms, tools, knowledge), but ONLY if you use that power to harm another thus violating the right of life, liberty, and personal property. You cannot charge someone with a crime because of what they MIGHT do with their power -- this is at the very heart of Liberty -- RESPONSIBILITY for one's actions.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Unalienable rights Are Numerated in the Heavens themselves ! Period ! Many in prior dispute, claiming it " the Bill of Rights" is far to limiting in scope. Nevertheless, Logan declares very well, These unalienable rights come not by man, but a gift to all of mankind. The light on the Hill. ! They are not open for petty dispute or debate, they need no private interpretation at man's fancy !! Shall We sing again with the Tri-cord of Liberty, waffler ! Ears that cannot hear, eyes that cannot see !! Blinded by the slight of men, worldly wisdom, which God has made foolishness. Grace under fire, Divine Guidance.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats OR     
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