It was in a Libertarian Party of Metropolitan/Davidson County caucus to ratify a set of by-laws for the organization when we ran into this problem. In the establishment of the intent of the party, the initial articles, language was being used to essentially show that the main goal of the party was to protect the liberties of individuals from the tyranny of the state. This is a somewhat obvious goal, as obvious as it was during the drafting of the founding documents of the Republican form of the United States of America. However, it became clear that the original wording left itself open to gaming by legal loophole acrobatics after the fact.
This was due to the choice of defining the rights as applying to the “person”. It is in this complex little word, perfectly acceptable in our current “politically correct” environment, that the utmost corruption and tyranny is possible. It is game-able in the sense that, to the average man or woman, the term seems to mean “natural human being”; to it’s credit that is one of the possible meanings of the term.
Here are some sample texts on the meaning of the word person.
Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition, pg. 791, defines 'person' as follows: "In general usage, a human being (i.e. natural person), though by statute term may include labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers."
It is accepted practice that this loose definition of the term is meant to include public corporations, and some precedent exists in either legal code or court precedent to say that the definition includes the state, and the United States as well!
From RCW(revised code of washington) 1.16.080 definiton of person (1) The term "person" may be construed to include the United States, this state, or any state or territory, or any public or private corporation or limited liability company, as well as an individual.
(2) Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the terms "association," "unincorporated association," and "person, firm, or corporation" or substantially identical terms shall, without limiting the application of any term to any other type of legal entity, be construed to include a limited liability company.
Worry not, we found the solution to our legal snafu, and we decided on a more sensitive wording for this wording. The specific original, potentially problematic text in our by-laws read:
“Each person possesses the inalienable right to life, liberty, and justly acquired property.” This was followed by “No person or institution, public or private, has the right to use physical force against a person except when in defense of life, liberty, or justly acquired property.”
The problem this gave us was this; what if the person was interpreted as THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Let’s just say they passed laws which were in violation of the Constitution, and the Supreme Court upheld them as fair. Let’s say this law transferred property from you to the state. Here would be a case where you, in defense of your liberty, would be violating the by-laws technically, if you used force against the state to protect yourself from tyranny.
This lead us to change the articles, removing the word person in favor of the definition man or woman. As informal as this language may seem, this removes the power of theoretic personhood from possessing these inalienable rights. We also added to “justly acquired property” the addendum “belonging to a man or woman” The intention here was to indicate private property beholden to a literal physical human being, and liable to that person.
I think one can easily see how the personhood of the corporation found in common-law interpretation of the 14th amendment clearly allowed for a covert transfer of the private property of the middle class to a combination of a small group of elites and the state, and that this definition occurred quite knowingly. It is, in fact, the one thing that prevents us from having a small-business based, competition economy with the low prices and creative power of freedom. It is from here that I move that we change this language wherever applicable in law, contracts, constitutions, etc. There needs be no sharing of definition between the state and man itself, when limitation of government is concerned. Obviously one cannot limit the other while both being identically defined; any action to enforce the power of the individual would be in dissonance with the language used.
Let us use man or woman to mean “male or female living human being”, let us use other, clearer terms for the state and public corporations.