Jefferson's declaration of dependence was transformed into Franklin's declaration of independence. Perhaps it was the sentiment of the vacuity at the limits and dark heart of what Benjamin Franklin called "Providence" that led him to persuade Jefferson to change the opening line of the Declaration of Independence to read, instead of "we hold these truths to be sacred," the canonical and more ambiguously philosophical "we hold these truths to be self-evident," which is far from the case. Franklin was a profoundly shrewd operator. If those truths Americans are to hold are understood to be absolutely directive -- that is, sacred -- then every human being is absolutely dependent on them. . . . Thus began the process of inversion ... the transformation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness into the pursuit of freedom to transgress and the happiness of transgression.For a 1986 update on the "process of inversion," Rieff refers to the key sentence from the dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court case, Bowers v. Hardwick.
A Supreme Court ruling states: "The most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men" is "the right to be left alone." The right to be left alone here is an utterly blind version of the rebellion against sacred orders; Justice Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, and Stevens have not the slightest idea of what they are saying.Will Justice Stevens be replaced by someone with a better understanding of the cultural and historical consequences of defining freedom as the right to be left alone?