The modern system of legislation is imperfect. There are numerous issues that have a tremendous negative impact on the lives of common people. However, the most urgent problems are usually those that are considered to be resolved but are actually not. For hundreds of years, the American nation has strived for its civil rights, equality, and freedom. However, from the very beginning of this battle, the civil rights of the representatives of various races and sexes are just a myth as they are widely violated by the society, political system, and even legislators who proclaim to fight for them. Therefore, this paper will track the history of the myth of civil rights and its current state in order to gain better understanding of this issue.
The Myth of Civil Rights
Constant battle for the protection of civil rights can be explained by high democratization of the American society and the high self-esteem of the American citizens, who have “the love of freedom” and “demand satisfaction of their social wants”. In the 21st century, people openly discuss controversial topics that can reflect the limitation of their social rights, freedoms, and equality. It is crucial to focus on the depiction of American civil rights as a myth that has existed since its establishment in the territory of this country and gave life to the ideas of freedom. Even Thomas Jefferson who hated slavery and considered this phenomenon a crime against humanity still did not fully realize the principles of equality of all the representatives of society irrespective of the color of their skin.
This American President stated that, “All the men are created equal” and still owned more than 600 slaves and used the benefits of their work. These benefits were reflected in free labor and sexual abuse of the African American women who were enslaved by him. This fact has been supported by special research introduced in the video “The Duality of Thomas Jefferson.” He stated that slavery was a “war against the human nature itself,” but released only seven individuals from slavery. Consequently, despite the wide proclamation of equality, Thomas Jefferson did not follow and realize its major principles.
Additional attention should be paid to Jefferson’s understanding of equality as a civil right of the enslaved Blacks. The President undermined “leaving of African Americans instead of integration”. This shows that after the cancellation of slavery these people would not obtain any of the civil rights of white Americans.
The myth of civil rights can be tracked to the later periods of American history. In the beginning of the 20th century, political and economic shifts caused tremendous social processes in the USA: significant rise of immigration, unemployment, inflation, and growth of social discontent. Thousands of people escaped the territories of the newly established Soviet Union and its communistic regime. Individuals with various viewpoints formed parties for protection of their rights and proclamation of their strategies. American government feared the rise of social riots. It has increased the control over the speech and performed precise checks of activities of immigrants and American citizens for elimination of the threat of espionage. Strangulation of civil rights reached its highs when the government announced the policy of “deportation of individuals on the basis of secret evidence in participation of terrorism”. This reflected the ability to deprive individuals of all civil rights without the explanation of the reason and even without having such a reason.
Civil rights remained a myth for years even after the declaration of independence. This was reflected in every sphere of social life of citizens of various ages. The example of such mystification is the existence of “separate but equal education” in American schools. According to the standards of such education, Blacks and whites were taught in different schools. This segregation reflected the suppression of rights of African American children to education equal to the one provided to white children. This inequality has been addressed only after long debates, court decisions, and adopting the 14th Amendment.
In the 21st century, when the civil rights of representatives of various nations, religions, ages, sex, genders, colors, and abilities are strongly protected by numerous civil laws, the American society still has some issues in granting and protection of human rights on single sex marriage. The issue of marriage equality is discussed in various videos, where various standpoints on granting and protection of rights to single-sex couples are introduced. In particular, Carole Migden protects these rights by stating that all people are equal. Homosexual couples have the same education, work potential, and purchasing abilities as heterosexual couples. Thus, they should have the same rights. At the same time, some of the black political leaders stand in opposition to such a viewpoint and sharply criticize single-sex marriages.
One more direction of social negotiations is reflected in the misunderstanding of whether these relationships should be regulated by the government or not. While one of the speakers in the video “Talk Back: Are Gay Rights the Same as Civil Rights?” states that the decision of the homosexual couple to become married should be resolved by the church as “the 14th Amendment gives us all equal rights” and “government doesn’t need to be put involved into this process”, the other speaker in the video “Is Gay Marriage a Civil Right?” emphasized that the government should be involved in it. He argues that not all people go to church and that “marriage is actually legal banning document” and some sort of “contract” that imposes the possessions and finances. Consequently, the government should be involved in the conversation about single sex marriage. I strongly agree with the second opinion, because the provided arguments seem to be relevant.
Some people do not believe in God, but still intend to enter into homosexual marriage. In such cases, the church cannot regulate marriage as it has no influence on these people. At the same time, marriage imposes significant obligations on couples. In numerous situations in the case of divorce people should be obliged to divide their property and obligations to their joint children. These actions are regulated by the legislation. Thus, the government should take an active part in the regulation of the matter of single sex marriage. However, the major question lies in understanding of whether the government can impose restrictions on such marriages.
To my mind, restriction of single sex marriage can be considered a limitation of civil rights of citizens of the USA. American Constitution proclaims freedom of actions and behaviors, if they do not harm freedoms the other members of society. Obtaining marriage licenses can hardly be considered an enactment that threatens the continuity of the social life in the USA. Moreover, homosexuality itself is not prohibited in the USA. Consequently, obtaining an official license to perform these acts and live as a married couple does not break any established social understandings of American citizens. At the same time, the limitation of such ability can be considered a limitation of the human civil rights on free reflection of themselves and ability to act freely. Current debate concerning legalization of single sex marriages represents the existing deficiencies in American civil rights as the society and legislators are still not certain about whether to provide this freedom to single sex couples or not. Thus, civil rights in this sphere of social life remain to be a myth.
This imitation of civil rights can be explained by the deficiencies in legislation introduced in the video “VID 20131228 114525.” The speaker stated that modern politicians realize the legislation in such a manner as to “do less harm than enact legislation”. That is why they prefer to impose limitations on certain civil rights that give rise to controversies in the society rather than to legalize them.
This issue can be addressed by several approaches. James Madison in his work The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard against Domestic Faction and Insurrection: Federalist No. 10 states that these approaches are a removal of the cause of the issue and controlling its effects. None of the involved parties of the discussion can have a significant influence on hundreds of homosexual couples that made the decision to license their marriage. These decisions are reflections of their own desires, values, and believes. In this situation, the removal of the cause of the issue will undermine “destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence”. This solution is inapplicable in a democratic American society. One more approach to eliminating the cause of social conflict is to give “citizens the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests”. The realization of this approach is also impossible. Thus, legislators should direct their efforts to controlling the effects, i.e. creating policies which would guide the licensing and existence of single sex marriage
In conclusion, it should be noted that the myth of civil rights has a long history and reflects different forms of inequality. From the very establishment of the ideas of freedoms of representatives of various races by Thomas Jefferson, these freedoms were not assured. Despite the proclamation of the necessity of slavery cancellation, the President was a slave owner who used all the benefits of coercion. The later reflections of the myth of civil rights can be found in the announcement of policy of deportation of the people who were suspected in participating in terrorism through secret evidence. This policy was established after the WWII as the response of American government to the growing threat of terrorist attacks. Legislators attained the ability to eliminate civil rights of US citizens and immigrants without the explanation of reasons.
Additionally, the myth of civil rights was reflected in the existence of separate but equal education, i.e. segregation of Black and white children in schools. This division that reflected inequality existed till the adoption of the 14th Amendment. Despite addressing racial inequality, American society still suffers from limitation of rights of sexual minorities, particularly the right to same sex marriage. This issue has been discussed in various videos mentioned in this paper. To my mind, the government should take an active part in the conversation concerning this matter. However, it should not limit the rights of American citizens to license their homosexual relationships. This statement is based on the understanding that such marriage serves as one of the reflections of freedom of actions and preservation of civil rights in the U.S. society.