Your nose and his rights

Published 12:50 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Many in my generation learned the basics of individual liberty in a simple story as follows:

An immigrant arrived in America on Ellis Island, where he was held to determine if he should be allowed to come into the country. Upon approval, he went to the city and hit the first guy he met in the nose.

The stranger asked why he had hit him. The new arrival explained that he had just been allowed into America, the land of liberty. The stranger explained to him the United States is the land of liberty but that your liberty ends at my nose.

For elementary schoolers, that said a lot. America is the land of liberty and other great rights but only to the point that you do not trample on the rights of your fellow man.

It is important to always respect others and not impose on their rights any more than they should impose on yours.

I have thought about that much recently. I am concerned with the back-and-forth issue in the courts of Virginia about where a transgender teenager uses the restroom.

That concern grew deeper as the national media have focused on the laws of North Carolina and the federal government’s threat of financial blackmail.

It very much appears to me that some, including those trained in the law, do not understand the basic concept of respecting the liberties of all, not just the chosen few.

You and I should be concerned when the motives of a few infringe on the rights of others. No one individual’s liberty should be greater than another nor should the rights of more be subservient to those of one.

Government should step back and decide this: Does giving the liberty of picking which restroom one wants to use interfere with the rights of others?

If there is a conflict, then the rights of the greater number should outweigh those of the individual.

In Gloucester, the schools tried to help the individual by offering the teacher’s restroom for use. The student or family rejected that and insisted on using the opposite-sex restroom as a right.

This completely ignores the right of every other student. High school has always been a period of anxiety for teens. To take the position that the rights and anxieties of many are of no consequence in comparison to the one is wrong.

Even more baffling is President Barack Obama’s attorney general and the Justice Department.

To pressure North Carolina and other states to bend to this idiotic mindset against the norms of our society, they are threatening withholding federal education money from states that do not agree.

Think about that thought process. The federal government helps fund several parts of public education. It provides part of the food that the cafeteria feeds to students.

It provides money to assist those with learning disabilities and as well those from disadvantaged homes.

Each of these programs is weighted to assist poor schools to a greater degree than those in more affluent schools.

Can there be any wonder why there is discontent in American politics?

Frank Ruff, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia Senate. His email address is