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gentleman“True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success: the glorious inequality of talent, of genius; for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardization, is the measure of the progress of the world”- Felix Emmanuel Schelling, American scholar and educator (1858-1945)

Would it not be to the advantage of an entire nation to contemplate and understand the difference between “civil rights” and “civil liberties”?

I think a fine definition of the difference between the two is the one mentioned in the book One Man’s Freedom by the American legal scholar Edward Bennett Williams in his 1962 book, shown below.

“By civil rights , we mean those claims which the citizen has to the affirmative assistance of government. In an age which insistently and properly demands that government secure the weak from needless dread and needless misery, the catalogue of civil rights is never closed. The obligation of government in the area of civil rights is never wholly discharged.

By civil liberties, I mean an individual’s immunity from governmental oppression. A society which respects civil liberty realizes that the freedom of its people is built, in large part, upon their privacy. The Bill of Rights, in the eyes of its framers, was a catalogue of immunities, not a schedule of claims. It was, in other words, a Bill of Liberties. The immunities defined in the Bill of Liberties were set forth in order that the promise of individual freedom might be made explicit. The framers dreamed that if their hope were codified man’s energies of mind and spirit might be released from fear. When civil rights are seen as claims and civil liberties as immunities, the government’s differing responsibilities become clear. For the security of rights the energy of the government is essential. For the security of liberty restraint is indispensable.”

Perhaps there are a few towns and universities in America like Ferguson, New York City and Washington DC where the above definition of rights and liberties should be on a billboard greeting those who work, study and live there, for all to see and to use, as an example for the rest of the Nation’s citizens, presumably all men and women of goodwill.

The rest of that very same Nation will surely follow if clear Leadership, Honesty, Wisdom and Respect for the Law by ALL, the President and protestors alike, prevails in 2015.

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