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A grievous error to be corrected: Wayne Thompson writes in his recent letter that “The United States Constitution gives us three rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's all.” Oops there, Mr. Thompson. Three important points follow.

First, the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable, meaning that they are inherent to being human. They are not “given” by anyone, including the Constitution. Second, Mr. Thompson forgets the Bill of Rights, perhaps the most important of documents ever to rise from a liberal democracy, wherein rights are further clarified. Third, the term “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” do not appear in the Constitution. They are from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, and recognize that they are endowed from our Creator, again inherently human rights.

But more importantly, aside from the fact that rights are not “given,” they are recognized. And it follows that these unalienable rights are predicated upon myriad other rights. For instance, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are impossible if you have no food, no shelter, no health care, or no education to be able to understand the nature of rights, constitutional or otherwise. Furthermore, prancing unicorns notwithstanding, the precepts of “a more perfect union” (which the Constitution preamble does extol), reifies the need to move forward, to grow, to make better – to progress -- in the development and edification of this great experiment in democracy.

So finally, Mr. Thompson, read the Constitution. Then write your diatribes.

Michael Beachley

Corvallis (May 24)

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