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Whose 'rights' have priority? page 2
Karen Owen's op-ed column on noise, compromise, and our rights in America.

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Date published: 2/24/2013

By Karen Owen


This past December, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a state statute barring music plainly audible to someone 25 feet away was an unreasonable restriction on freedom of expression. This may not bode well for the rest of us poor slobs, since it means that anyone--including students living in College Heights--may eventually be permitted to play a stereo at the threshold of pain late at night, or hire a rock 'n' roll band for an outdoor party that goes on till all hours of the morning, or run a wood-chipper at 6 a.m.

It's our right.

What's amazing to me, though, is how whenever anyone says "It's my right!" someone else's rights become trampled underfoot.

What about the right of law-abiding citizens to sleep with a window open at night? What about an elderly or sick person, or mother with a young child, who wishes to take an afternoon nap? What about people who prefer just a modicum of peace and quiet? Have they no rights in their pursuit of happiness?

I ask this because in the gun debate that's been raging, people seem to rank the Second Amendment ahead of every other. Solutions to tragic shootings are met with "we need more security"--armed guards at the schoolhouse, at the movie theater, at the mall, at the entrance to gated communities.

Perhaps all of these measures--all involving putting more guns into the hands of citizens--will work. But they a) come at great cost, not the least of which is monetary; and b) come at the expense of those of us who merely wish to have their child attend a public school in safety, without fear of an ensuing gun battle between teacher and crazed gunman. Or to those who want to go shopping, or to eat dinner out with friends, or to stroll along the Rappahannock Canal Walk, or to attend the latest film at the metroplex without packing heat.


The gun-owner's right trumps all others, apparently. What I want, and think that I have a right to--quite modest expectations, really--is of no consequence.

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