"... the needs of the community may at times trample over property rights."
There's a confusion here that has become so common, that I think I'll go a bit out of order to address it now, before finishing out the series of posts I just started, because it is important to distinguish between true property rights, true in the classical liberal sense which our Founding Father’s understood to be rooted in the nature of Man, and the mere gaudy mask of property rights, which is defined by legislators for ‘the greater good’.
There is a huge difference between trampling over property rights (always a bad, bad thing), and upholding the real property rights which people do have in their local community, and which they have a real right to exercise so as to prevent their community from being defaced by social vandals.
There IS a reasonable expectation which people have in their community, at the direct democracy level of the ward, assembly & township level where members of the community should, and do, have a say in the shared aspects of their community.
Hardcore libertarians, or the leftists seeking a debating point, may say,
"Property rights are 100%! If I don't have the right to paint my house in purple zebra stripes & polka dots, then there are no property rights! If I can't do that, then you're violating my right to my property!"To which I'll say, Property Rights are absolute, within a given context - if you erase the context, you erase what it meant and why it meant it, you cannot pretend that a simple statement will be valid or clear across all contexts. My old buddy Aristotle nailed it in his Nicomachean Ethics with this,
"...for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs..."
, if you ignore that, then you are no longer dealing with legitimate rights or principles (or even Reason, for that matter), but with categorical imperatives which ultimately wipe out all principles and all the rights of all the people. Especially in politics and law, there are degree's of precision which can and cannot reached, depending on the context and it is important to realize it.
There are legitimate, difficult to define areas, where what you do on your property affects the ability of other members of the community to enjoy their property. When you purchase property in a community, you are in effect bringing that community in as silent partners with your ownership of itb- in most cases they will remain silent and maybe even forgotten, but you cannot flagrantly offend their real interests and concerns which are directly affected by aspects of your property, and expect that they will not make themselves heard. One of the reasons why we do have government in general, is so that in reasoned discussion, the community can agree to agree on just where those blurred boundaries shall be said to exist.
The farther removed from areas of personal contact you go, such as at the county level or that of the state, that blurring becomes so pronounced as to flat out disappear; and so at those levels any direct claims, restrictions and expectations to particular usage of property, can no longer be legitimate, IMHO. Maybe there are a bunch of zebra polka dot house painting fans out there who'd like nothing more that to build a town where they can live together in their purpleness – if so, I don't think that another community in that county or state should be able to pass a zoning law preventing them, the anti-polka doter's concerns would be too far removed from any real interest in the homeowner's property.
There are tools for defining some of these murky areas more clearly, at a neighborhood level for instance, communities usually ‘incorporate’ themselves (using the term very loosely here) in some fashion ranging from that of a subdivision to a collection of them - a Ward or Assembly, etc – so that property is purchased with the knowledge that some version of CCR's (conditions, covenants & restrictions) exist, and that there is a governing board, elected from the community and open everyone’s participation in meetings, etc, which can and should be expected to make decisions reflecting that communities CCR's.
Districts and Towns have a very legitimate right, based upon what the community has already long since established as their local character, through zoning controls and various standards, over what is allowable in their particular region - again, I think it is often unwisely used and decided upon, but for the people in that area, having the ability to directly voice their concerns, form associations for or against particular issues, and directly make themselves be heard and have their say, is their right as members of that community. And the established custom of Americans is that if you disagree so much with an issue in your community, or a string of issues, you can pack up and move to a different district, town, etc.
On the other hand, those various boards have a real duty to their community to recognize and reassess issues which spark unexpected (to them) concern and uproar from their constituents, and if they cannot reconcile themselves to their constituents, they should themselves resign from those boards.
The general sense of this has long been in common practice, completely uncontroversial and is in no way 'trampling on property rights' - property is purchased in a particular communities location with the understanding that it is purchased with less than a full 100% control over it's use. If you don’t like that, if you want full, unconflicted use and say over your property and don’t want to deal with any messy community issues, there's still plenty of rural land you can purchase where you can go enjoy your zebra polka dot preferences and express yourself as a hermit.
BTW - I'd say that the real interest of the community ends where the real consent of those involved, as well as their effective separation from other's in the community who might not agree, ends. Smoking bans within businesses for instance – telling a business owner, that in his place of business, he has no right to allow his patrons to smoke, or leave – that is an issue which is none of the community’s darned business, and is thoroughly improper for them to rule upon.
Smoking bans in public areas, parks, etc, assuming that they're not privatel owned, that could be a different story.
Context. It's a biggee.
Such practices are not in any way a negation of property rights, but an expression of them, there is no right of contract violated here, in fact it’s more of a case of the larger right of implied contract that’s held on the part of the community, being upheld against the attempted breach of their agreement by the zebra dot house painter’s and their like.
That reasonable expectation on the part of the community had nothing whatsoever to do with, say, the Charles River Bridge case that I cited in my last post; in that case there was a contract made, and the reasonable and necessary implications of the contract which gave it its value in the first place, were breached and violated by the representatives of the community who decided after 'taking payment', that they no longer wanted to be bound by the contract they had made to the bridge builders, all under the pretext of serving the ‘greater good’.
That was an egregious violation and assault upon the principle of Property Rights and contract, and by implication, upon every Individual Right we have a right to expect as free persons. That was then, as is this mosque issue now, one where the original American sense of Rights, came into conflict with the proregressive’s sense of ‘rights’.
The American sense of Individual Rights are derived from our nature as human beings, as was well understood by our Founders through the concept of Natural Law, and was made most clear in the Declaration of Independence, such as,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."Such true Rights come into direct conflict with the proregressive mask of ‘rights’, as expressed by Justice Taney, as being something which is bestowed by external powers and decrees, something which serves the ‘greater good’ (which somehow always seems to serve the interests of only a powerful few), and which individuals must bow to in any conflict.
Sorry, but only Individuals have rights, and any fiction which attempts to bestow rights upon a collective, at the expense of the rights of the individuals who that collective is formed from, is a contradiction and a lie (and no, there are no such things as ‘States Rights’, read the constitution, States have Powers, only Individuals have Rights).
The Charles River Bridge case was an issue of raw power being used to trample upon the principle of property rights, It blasted away the very principles of contract and property which this nation cannot hope to exist without, and that very same issue is on display today in the Mosque at Ground Zero - it is in fact a perfect illustration of it, and the fright mask which the left has labeled ‘property rights’ in order to push their agenda, is only a fig leaf for power, every bit as much as it was with the Charles River Bridge case, and with Dred Scott, and with the very same goal in mind – forcing individuals to submit, to give up their rights, in favor of the wishes of those in power.
The only issue of property rights being violated in the Ground Zero Mosque, is that of those New Yorkers who’re expressing their opinion that they do not want it built in that location, so close to the hallowed ground of Ground Zero. Those citizens and property owners on the local level, there in that district of the city of New York, those people have not been allowed to be heard, and their political representatives are attempting to shunt aside their real rights to have a say in the makeup and appearance of their community, they are being told, in typical proregressivist top-down style, that they should not and cannot exercise their reasonable expectations for their community to reflect an understandable respect for the still open wound inflicted upon the Twin Towers on 9/11, in their very neighborhood.
We had an issue here in Missouri recently, Chesterfield I think, where a zoning board decided that a church, one that had owned and operated their church for years on their property, was refused a request to build a larger, more visible and attention getting cross on their property - property already owned and operated as a church - because it might loom too much into the sensibilities of those in their community who did not attend, or wish to attend, or be made aware of, that church.
That is a legitimate ruling by a community zoning board, and if it is found to be in conflict with the community, the community can vote them out, and resubmit a request.
But today we are being told by Bloomberg, Obama, and the rest of the usual suspects, that those people in New York who suffered through 9/11 - not through a T.V. screen, but up close and personal through their own eyes and tears, people who inhaled the ash and smoke of thousands of charred bodies of people they knew! – they are seriously to be told that they have no reasonable right to object to the building of a 'community center' and mosque, in a massive and attention getting form, just two blocks from where those very people had their lives mangled and torn, lost family and friends, property and places of business and an unimaginable sense of loss to their peace of mind, all due to an act which sparked a war in which the entire nation currently has family and friends serving in the military because of, and dying for, all of which was done under the banner of islam (legitimately or not), which that proposed mosque will serve to wave in their faces on a daily basis?
They’re told to ‘get over it?’ Really? Are you f’ing kidding me?!
We don't even need to even begin taking into consideration the feelings and interests of the entire city of New York, its county & state, not to mention that of New Jersey, etc... just on the local zoning level consideration alone, the people in that neighborhood and business district have every right to say - "No. We find this mosque to be in poor taste, at best, and we find the prospect of it offensive and disruptive to our lives, and we refuse to allow it here... here! Now Scat!"
There is no constitutional issue involved here, there is no violation of property rights occurring with the rejection of the mosque, this is a simple local issue of upholding the property rights of the community, pure and simple, against the social vandalism of Bloomberg & Co., who are themselves trying to negate the rights of all those people, and daring to mask it all under the proregressive mockery of ‘property rights’.
These are nothing but social vandals, wantonly attempting to vandalize the heart of that neighborhood, to say nothing of the heart and dignity of the American people as a whole, and IMHO, they can all go to hell.