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Individual Rights

October 8, 1988
Your editorial "A Matter of Principle" in support of the ACLU could not be more incorrect in its basic philosophy (Sept. 28). You state that you "cannot imagine any idea . . . more American" than maximum individual rights. However, our modern democratic society is ultimately based on the sacrifice of some individual rights in order to sustain and protect the collective whole--a concept stated by Thomas Hobbes over 300 years ago. I do not see anything American about legalization of drugs, public sexual solicitation, the Nazi Party, or, for that matter, furloughs for convicted murderers.
November 16, 1989 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The former guerrilla leader who is likely to become Namibia's first president promised to protect individual rights and said that he might establish a one-party political system. Sam Nujoma, leader of the leftist South-West Africa People's Organization, also said he will try to avoid dealings with the white-run government in South Africa, which is ceding control of Namibia after a 74-year rule. Nujoma said English will become the sole official language of Namibia's government and schools.
September 12, 1991 | TIMOTHY S. BISHOP, Timothy S. Bishop is a Chicago attorney who served as a law clerk to former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan
Liberals prepared to take the long view of the Supreme Court's development of constitutional protection for individual rights can find one bright side to the nomination of Clarence Thomas. To be sure, if Judge Thomas is confirmed, his rulings will predictably continue the court's conservative trend. But that would be true of anyone on the Administration's short list of candidates.
December 26, 1991
In response to "The Bill of Rights: An Orphan Document" (Opinion, Dec. 15): The Times is to be commended for two separate but philosophically related articles. Richard Rodriguez's article ("A Legal Fix for Private Failure") correctly defines the Bill of Rights as a delineation of individual rights against the power of the state. Individual rights and the accompanying responsibility are two sides of the same coin. That is nowhere more clear than in the matters of personal health.
April 23, 1993
David Dawidoff (Commentary, April 16) is correct to point out that individual rights--as opposed to minority rights--is the bottom line in light of the new Guttmacher survey suggesting there are far fewer gays than previously believed. But it's still useful to speculate on how many gay women and men there really are. Advice columnist Abigail Van Buren has written, commenting on a "Dear Abby" survey to which more than 210,000 people responded: "Although mental-health professionals in the past have estimated that 10% of the population is either gay or bisexual, my survey indicated that there are possibly twice that percentage."
May 29, 1988
In the not-so-best of worlds, laws are made and enforced that respond more to the cries of "there oughta be a law" rather than a need to protect our rights. The outdoor display ordinance in Laguna Beach is an example. Someone said, "I don't like outdoor displays. They're tacky. There oughta be a law." And some lawmakers responded. The result is a law that does not protect individual rights, but rather restricts and abridges those rights, limiting the individual's private property rights, right to made a living, and freedom of expression.
May 9, 1993
I thank Dana Parsons for his column of May 2. Unfortunately, he misses a crucial element of my argument. I maintain that abortion is wrong not because of religious faith or theological doctrine, but as a matter of common sense. The doctrine of individual rights is the basis of self-government, but the ground of individual rights is human nature. Lincoln, who was neither an extremist nor a religious ideologue, maintained that slavery was wrong because it violated the "self-evident truth" of human equality.
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