Rights and liberties are two obscure words. Once you understand right, it is easy to understand liberty. In the society we live, civil rights and civil liberties are often interchangeably. Civil right means that you have the privilege to some things irrespective of who you are. You have a measure freedom which is solely yours and should not be taken away from you regardless of your gender, race or physical disability. The law and the society should relate to you without discrimination. Civil rights are the basis of equality among all Americans. For example, that you are disabled should not limit your right to travel freely. Civil liberties, on the other hand, are rights that were signed into the bill of rights. They are meant to protect you from an improper act of the government or whichever unjust law they might suddenly announce for the society. As an entity, you have protection also from higher individuals, organizations and authorities
In fact, everyone should know their civil rights and liberties whether it accrues to you based on the governing law. Even if they serve as a form of protection for you from unpalatable treatment that could arise because of your gender, race or disability, you should be fortified with the knowledge. On the bright side, you will know when to stand up for yourself and say ‘Hey, this is my right.’ Here are some basic civil rights and liberties you should be aware of:
Right to Vote: Your right to vote in a public election is a very significant one. You have the chance to decide who you want in charge of the affairs of your state. This opportunity makes you feel powerful and heard. When you vote, you are also contributing to the development of your country. You would want the best person in a public office that would have a direct impact on your welfare. Even though you have the right to vote as an American based on the Constitution, some states have laws that could prevent you from voting. These reasons, once they are not against your gender, sex, and physical disabilities, are signed into the law. Always find out your voting eligibility in any new state you find yourself.
Freedom of Speech: This is also known as freedom of expression. You have the right to express your thought, opinions and ideas through any medium you deem fit. You can express your views on any subject and not risk being arrested or judged. Though you have the right to express yourself without being fearful, some forms of expressions are still not allowed. Any conveyed thoughts or opinion that can negatively affect national security is not allowed. If you exercise your liberty of speech, and the peace of your community is disturbed, you stand the chance of losing your freedom of expression. Also, as soon as you sign a nondisclosure agreement about any subject matter, you have legally rescinded your right to say anything about that issue.
Right to Privacy: As an individual, you have the right to keep any part of your life away from the public eye. Whichever part of you that you have decided to preserve as a secret should not be disclosed to by any party privy to the information. You could choose to keep your body, relationships, itinerary and home private. In a case where CCTV cameras or any other surveillance is being used without a person’s prior knowledge, it amounts to an infringement on your civil rights to privacy.
Right to Bear Arms: In America today, lives are being threatened day after day. The need for people to protect themselves gave birth to this civil right. Of course, military personnel, police officers, and selected law enforcement agents are officially entitled to have arms in their possession. Average individuals should not be found with weapons unless the actual authority has issued a license. With a permit, you have the civil right to bear arms.
Freedom of Religion: There are so many religions in the world that you can practice. You have the right to be a part of any religion you desire, and it is made possible by the right to freedom of worship. You can be a member of any religious organization without fear. Nobody can make you practice their religion without your consent.
Right to Marry: In the past, this power was limited by the statutory definition of persons that can marry. A marriage could only take place between a man and a woman. With the passage of the bill into law, everybody now has a right to marry. You can marry anybody you want to. You can marry a man or a woman. It is your right to marry regardless of your status in the society.
Right to Assemble Peacefully: You have a right to call a meeting with people. It could be religious gatherings, business seminars, casual get-together or pleasure coming together. The only condition is that the meeting must be peaceful. It must not be an assemblage to disrupt organization of a state. It must not be a meeting to discuss treason and other related offenses.
Right to A Fair Court Trial: The inception of this power starts from when a person is to be arrested. His Miranda rights must be read to him. He must have right to counsel. He must have an opportunity to be heard. If the trial is quick, it must not be such that will lead to the miscarriage of justice. This right and what it entails should be drummed into the ears of every American. It will prevent a lot of unlawful imprisonments.
The above points show the necessity of knowing your rights. There are so many rights that accrue to you as a citizen and as a resident. Being aware of your civil rights and liberties makes you know when your rights have unjustly been infringed. Even though you have all these rights, learn to apply caution when exercising them. Unlawful actions by you could lead to loss of your civil rights and liberties.
Photo Credit: Buzzle