The Washington Post

Gene Weingarten: Some rights the Declaration might not cover

(Eric Shansby)

I was recently rereading the Declaration of Independence, looking for evidence that the Founding Fathers did not, in fact, envision a country where every yabbo in camo has the right to carry a submachine gun into a pediatric ward. I came up short on that, but found something potentially bigger.

Jefferson wrote that all people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

Anything strike you as interesting there?

Life, liberty and being happy are “among” our unalienable rights. By inference, we have others. Jeff just didn’t specify what they were! They could be anything.

In the interests of creating a more perfect union, I hereby propose a few of those unstated, but urgent, unalienable rights.

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The right to opt out of corporate voice mail and demand a human at any time during the process, including when they are telling you to listen carefully because the menu has recently changed.

The right to physically move, without penalty, the offending leg of any man in the Metro or on a bus, no matter how preemptively sullen and dangerous he is making himself look, if he is taking up two seats by sitting with his legs splayed in an obstetric fashion.

The right to the guilt-free purchase of a 62-inch flat-screen high-def TV despite the ongoing suffering of persons in places like Pyongyang.

The right to step ahead of any basket-bearing person in line at the pharmacy prescription counter who is apparently doing her entire weekly grocery shopping while she’s at it.

The right to have the X-out button in a pop-up ad be larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser, and not deliberately camouflaged by being dark gray on black.

The right to demand silence in an elevator,
rather than listening to strangers discuss their children’s most recent achievements or their preferences for skim decaf latte.

The right to not get dirty looks when you honk at a person who is trying to make a left turn across oncoming traffic but is too timid to ease into the intersection, consigning everyone behind him to missing the light.

The right to snork mucus back up your nose in public without suffering looks of condescension or disgust, because, really, it is the most sensible option.

The right to fast-forward past any commercial lasting longer than six seconds preceding an Internet video.

The right to wear, without self-loathing, a single pair of blue jeans for four nonconsecutive days. (Also, underpants for two consecutive days or three nonconsecutive.)

The right to have a hometown baseball team with a closer who doesn’t always walk the leadoff man.

The right of every newborn to be given a name that is biblical, or familial, or has familiar precedent, as opposed to a tortured misspelling, like Monick’ah, or something invented by one’s parents to establish their unbridled joy at this miraculous event, such as Mirackle, or Deliciaricious, or just pretentious, such as Pretenshus.

The right to meekly complain about America’s insane gun culture without getting a ton of irate letters to the editor from yabbos in camo.



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