Saturday, August 9, 2008

Denver Post Establishes "Right to Serenity"

I'm not sure how familiar people working on the Denver Post's copy desk are with the U.S. Constitution. Not very, probably, of they're like most left-leaning people one meets in newsrooms, who see it as some faded old parchment that's either largely irrelevant or open to spontaneous amendment. Perhaps that explains this week's announcement, in the Denver Post, of a new American right not known before: the "right to serenity."

"Neighbors fear their right to serenity will be quashed," reads the headline to a report about downtown Denver residents who are worried about how the Democratic National Convention will disrupt their tranquility. These are residents of the city center, who presumably live there because they want to be where the action is, in contrast to those stodgy old suburbs. Yet some apparently feel put-upon when the action really begins.

It's only a silly headline, I know, which hardly seems worthy of mention. And I was relieved to find that the phrase "right to serenity" appears nowhere in the body of the story, which is why I point an accusing finger at the copy desk. But it might seem less trivial to people who still take the idea of constitutional rights seriously -- and who cringe and worry when Americans, most of whom don't have a clue about what the constitution does or says, start declaring new rights at the drop of a hat.

Just as today's cavalier use of the word "racist" threatens to rob it of real weight and meaning, the constant manufacturing and evoking of new "rights" threatens to trivialize concepts that serve as the foundation of our legal system and national identity.

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