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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42

4.—Our Rights as Citizens

4.—Our Rights as Citizens.

What he means by "Our rights as citizens" is left very vague by Mr Stout. This need be no cause for surprise, for if his other assertions were really genuine, he must have met with some difficulty when he approached this part of his subject, and casting a glance over the preceding portion of his address, his eye must have fallen on the statement "that the only one thing upon which their Society was agreed was that men are free to think, speak, and act, independent of all authority, and that their highest duty is to carry out this independent policy regardless of its consequences." This is then the right of every individual, as an individual; but as a citizen, we may ask, does a right at all exist? and I am inclined to answer with caution, and reply, "Right only exists where might commands it." What one man may consider his right another may look upon as the reverse; what a few may be agreed upon, the general voice may dispute. Yet, on Mr Stout's authority, it is laid down that every man must, in carrying out his "highest duty," act out his convictions, regardless of his neighbour's, while he "grants the same right to everyone else." Most appropriate, therefore, is the ensuing sentence—"We cannot therefore expect to act as one man." Under such notions of moral and political rule, it would be an utter impossibility for united action, and the inevitable result would be constant contentions, despite our policy of "true freedom." Diversity of opinion is to be expected, and as opinion is to govern action, antagonism, and not unity, must be looked for. Then by what rule are our "rights as citizens" to be established and recognised? Only by our power to enforce that recognition. It is simply "acquire what you can, and hold it as you can." I can find no other "right" existing under this promulgated law of true freedom."