Right to life first
Recent writers suggesting that killing a man can be justified by freedom of expression demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the most basic American philosophy. The claims of the Declaration of Independence regarding "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" need to be considered more carefully since most people seem to be unaware of the priorities implied.
The order in which the words appear has significance. Liberty and the pursuit of happiness must take a back seat to the right to life. Therefore, one cannot make a valid argument about freedoms or pursuits that would cause the destruction of life, whether our own or that of another person.
Life must be given the greatest priority, then liberty or freedom, then pursuit of happiness.
I cannot use my right to pursue happiness as an excuse to interfere with your liberty. I cannot use my right to liberty as an excuse to destroy your life. I must neglect my own happiness to defend your freedom if necessary. I must sacrifice my own freedom to protect your life. An American's duty demands this.
One could argue that love requires me to sacrifice my life to protect yours, my freedoms to maintain yours, and my happiness to support yours.
Liberty is a God-given right to do what we ought to do, not the freedom to do whatever we want. Happiness is not guaranteed; only our right to seek it is promised.
We must come to a better understanding of these principles ourselves and then provide proper instruction to our children. If we refuse to be ruled by this philosophy, we will be ruled by evil.
Michael S. Cole, M.D.
10 July 1990
Southwest Times Record