Welcome login | signup
Language en es fr
OccupyForum

Forum Post: OccupyTheConstitution Life

Posted 2 years ago on Feb. 1, 2012, 6:31 p.m. EST by Nanook (172)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The word LIFE is at center stage in many current discussions. It is prized as one of the fundamental values in society. So, it is very ironic that the word "life" doesn't show up much in the Constitution, and is certainly not defined there. The places it does show up are Article III and Amendments 5 and 14

In Article III, it "life" used to describe the period that a person can be punished for Treason: "during the LIFE of the Person".

Amendments 5 and 14 use the word LIFE in a way much closer to its use in the Declaration of Independence, which is the definitive statement we all know. The Declaration states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The problem is, the Constitution does NOT affirm what the Declaration says.

The Declaration says LIFE is an UNALIENABLE RIGHT. To drive home the “sanctity” of life, the Declaration says that RIGHT was “endowed by the Creator”. Yet people who claim the Constitution is perfect as it is, either through ignorance or DENIAL ( i.e. hypocrisy ), refuse to face up to the fact that the Constitution allows both the state and federal governments to take away that right. In the Constitution, instead of being UNALIENABLE, LIFE is only prevented from being taken away WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW!

So, when the people who control the law become corrupt, there is no protection at all. We see this all the time. And in the current climate, the fever to revive the death penalty and execute humans is running high. Ironically, this hypocrisy is highest among those who claim to hold the highest religious convictions.

The objective of this discussion page is to dig deep into the basic meaning of LIFE, and to think about when and how society should have a responsibility to protect it or take it from someone. Here are some issues to get started. You can jump to those issues directly from the list.

WHAT DOES "LIFE" MEAN – THE BASICS - http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-life/#comment-620042

WHAT DOES "LIFE" MEAN – NATURE VS. NURTURE - http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-life/#comment-620010

WHEN DOES LIFE BEGIN – http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-life/#comment-619923

IS A PERSON EVER JUSTIFIED IN TAKING ANOTHER LIFE - http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-life/#comment-619921

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT JUSTIFIED - http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-life/#comment-619916

(This post is part of a collection of posts aimed at launching a new process called the National Opinion Collection System (NOCS). For more information on the process, see http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-introduction/ )

9 Comments

9 Comments


Read the Rules
[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 2 years ago

WHAT DOES "LIFE" MEAN – THE BASICS

The most basic concept for the term "life" is generally thought to be: "a biological process with the capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction." But the Constitution was not written to set guidelines for bacteria, or trees, or cats. It was written for humans. And while this sounds trivially obvious, if we accept that, it leads to profound implications. In order to properly discuss "life", we actually first have to define "human life".

Adding the word "human" is not as simple as it seems. Does "human" mean just ANY creature with two arms, two legs, and a head? Does a person who loses their legs then become not human? What about a person who has arms and legs, but they don't work? But of course, apes have two arms, two legs and a head. So, somehow, the human brain has to figure into this definition. But what happens then if the brain stops working? OR, what if the brain is working, but it is clearly not working "right"? And who gets to decide what "right" is? The 1% ?

Come on now, don't just throw up your hands and walk off as if this is just academic nonsense. The creative part of the discussion is just getting starting. HUMAN ( what ever that is ) has now entered the age of genetic engineering and bionics. A new Constitution needs to address this. (The current one surely doesn't. ) Some humans already have synthetic organs, either transplanted from other humans, animals or made of gears and electronics. And, as Isaac Asimov pointed out 50 years ago, eventually robots will get human parts. So, when does a "bionic man" no longer qualify as being EQUAL under the law?

(This post is part of a collection of posts aimed at launching a new process called the National Opinion Collection System (NOCS). For more information on the process, see http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-introduction/ )

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 2 years ago

WHAT DOES "LIFE" MEAN – NATURE VS. NURTURE

Now, let's add in a huge additional factor – nature vs. nurture. It's one thing to look at the seed, and consider its potential, it's another to watch the plant growing and fulfilling its potential. This is where the 99% vs. 1% discussion has only begun. America's past as a slave owning plantation society is a perfect model to study. Rich people, believed they were selected by a supernatural hand to rule over others. Joining together to create the rules, they set up the rules to make sure they would stay in a position of power. America has now been legally free of slavery during the later 40% of our time on this continent ( correct! Not even 50% yet. ) But, given the ability of the 1% to build or destroy whole towns, plunder pension plans and throw people out of homes, just to meet their industrial goals, has just continued the same result. Their world, and that of their children, is just as isolated as it ever was.

The point of this summary is that the "life" that a person can reasonably expect to have is NOT independent of birth environment. AND, while the laws of the land DO allow SOME people from "poor" environments to achieve the "American Dream" and rise to successful positions in life, when viewed in aggregate, those promises are stillborn. The crisis of our time is that those aggregate numbers are plummeting.

The dismal significance of this situation is brought out by bringing in the now emerging problems of planetary resource depletion. With the population still rapidly growing, in order to maintain the lifestyles they have, the 1% need to squeeze the 7 billion into ever reduced standards of living. And the more primitive the people become, the easier they are to control with modern weapons. Where are we headed? What was once a land of open ranges and virgin forests, that people could roam at will and camp out under the stars, is turning into a prison of gated communities, where EVERYONE needs a home security system and bars on their windows.

So, what does life mean then, for a person born in a shack in a walled off ghetto? Is this person anything other than minimum wage "headcount" for the 1%? Doesn't government OWE someone born in that situation a minimum level of opportunity?

(This post is part of a collection of posts aimed at launching a new process called the National Opinion Collection System (NOCS). For more information on the process, see http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-introduction/ )

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 2 years ago

WHEN DOES LIFE BEGIN

And once we understand the basics, then how do we decide, during the process of conception, when life begins? Does that really matter? Are there other issues that are more critical to life: viability, self reliance, the age of reason? If we can subdivide human life into legal categories like: infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, seniors; then why can't we subdivide fetal development into separate legal categories? We already do: trimesters, for example.

(This post is part of a collection of posts aimed at launching a new process called the National Opinion Collection System (NOCS). For more information on the process, see http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-introduction/ )

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 2 years ago

IS A PERSON EVER JUSTIFIED IN TAKING ANOTHER LIFE

This question applies to situations like SELF DEFENSE, or WAR, or in POLICE ACTIONS.

To address this question, someone please provide a logical statement to explain how killing in war is not forbidden by the words of the Declaration of Independence, which state, "all men are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are LIFE…". And statements such as, 'well, this isn't really practical' are not allowable. If that escape clause were intended, then it should have been included in the Declaration. And further statements such as, 'but, of course, the Declaration, to be a practical document, had to be short. So it had to leave out a lot of details", are also not acceptable. TOE THE LINE on logic here. The Declaration of Independence is either TRUTH, as stated, WORD FOR WORD, or it isn't. If it isn't, then let's admit that and get on with fixing it. If it is, help us understand why.

I think we need to acknowledge, up front, that there are religious views that would say killing another person is NOT justified under ANY circumstance. We need to hear those out as well. They may say, killing in self defense is not justification because: A. life is not important. It is just an insignificant part of eternity. Eternity in a supernatural state is the goal. B. We are told by the "holy books" to turn the other cheek to assault. C. Justice will be provided by a supernatural power in an afterlife.

(This post is part of a collection of posts aimed at launching a new process called the National Opinion Collection System (NOCS). For more information on the process, see http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-introduction/ )

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 2 years ago

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT JUSTIFIED

To address this question, someone please provide a logical statement to resolve the discrepancy between the Declaration of Independence, which states, "all men are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are LIFE…" and the Constitution, which only protects life so far as it cannot be taken, " WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW!"

(This post is part of a collection of posts aimed at launching a new process called the National Opinion Collection System (NOCS). For more information on the process, see http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-introduction/ )

[-] 0 points by asauti (-113) from Port Orchard, WA 2 years ago

You write: "Amendments 5 and 14 use the word LIFE in a way much closer to its use in the Declaration of Independence, which is the definitive statement we all know. The Declaration states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The problem is, the Constitution does NOT affirm what the Declaration says."

I have to disagree.

The Fifth Amendment does confirm the concept of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". See below:

5th Amendment (complete text): "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."

I see it confirmed in the last sentence: "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."

I welcome any/all thoughtful and thorough disagreement. That is how I can best understand a concept from a differing perspective.

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 2 years ago

@Asauti,

You are correct, that the Constitution mentions life, liberty and property. But read both statements carefully. There is a BIG difference. The Declaration says the CREATOR endowed men with these rights and made them UNALIENABLE. That means, they can't EVER be taken away. But the Constitution says the government can decide, based on current laws, when life has to be preserved.

[-] 0 points by asauti (-113) from Port Orchard, WA 2 years ago

I see where you going with that, but the more I think about it, the more I feel the need to disagree.

The Constitution is what is called a "negative-force" document.

This means that it is not declaring what the government "Can Do" - it is declaring what they "Shall Not Do".

The Fifth Amendment, as do many of the other amendments, begin with "No person shall...".

So near the end of the 5th Amendment, it is saying: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..."

Ahhhh, now I see what you are saying!

Nice of you to notice that!

You are pointing out the part about "due process of law" and how that is, at the very least, "somewhat vague" at to how it is to be understood, aren't you?

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 2 years ago

Actually, I'm focusing on a different point. The Declaration of Independence says that these rights have been given to humans by a supernatural power that created the world and humans. And that power has declared that they are UNALIENABLE. The Constitution ignores this and allows humans to decide where and when the rights will be protected. That's the problem between these two documents.