Latin, a legal maxim. The consequences of abuse [of a right, resource, or ability] cannot be applied to general use [of that thing].

To phrase it another way, rights are still rights, even when they are exercised in a way which is morally or ethically wrong, and rights should not be revoked from all persons, solely on the risk that some persons will abuse those rights. Just because something can be abused, does not mean it cannot be used properly.

Example of this maxim being applied:

It would be unreasonable (and in fact unlawful) to prevent a large group of people from assembling in a public space for a peaceful purpose, if right to assembly is included in the Constitution of that location. Even if assemblies in the past have resulted in riots or other general unpleasantness, those occasions were the result of some people choosing to abuse their right to assemble. Not all assembling persons should be held under suspicion of rioting, nor should their right to assemble be preemptively revoked due to the past rioters' misapplication of the right to assemble.

In this scenario, general use of the right to assemble is legally protected. Restricting this right in its scope or in terms of who can exercise it would necessitate a Constitutional Amendment or similar substantial alteration of existing law.

Example where this maxim would not apply:

Some martial vehicles and explosive devices do not have any reasonable civilian application, and civilians cannot be expected to possess the necessary skills to use them safely and correctly, especially if they live in an urban environment, where misuse risks major collateral damage, and where theft prevention is more difficult. Ownership of these devices would be, therefore, a privilege specific to specialized personnel and environments tailored to their use. If one of these personnel abused this privilege, or if one of these special environments had a significant safety error that caught the attention of regulatory government agencies or the media, then it could result in these privileges being revoked entirely.

In this scenario, general use of these devices is already an exceptional case, not a legally protected right, and each abuse of these privileges can cause ever-greater restriction of these privileges, and more restriction in who has these privileges. These restrictions would not necessitate a Constitutional Amendment, because they are not affecting fundamental rights; they are only redefining the nature of an already-limited privilege.

Example of this maxim being misapplied:

Suppose a family is aware that their matriarch is a narcissistic and violent person toward her own children, and she is seeking contact with her grandchildren, who have been kept away from her negative influence. She might argue that she has a right to interact with her grandkids, no matter how she treated her own kids when they were growing up, and that she can no longer be reasonably held in suspicion of potentially abusing the grandkids in the future.

Because the abuser's access to her grandchildren is not a legally protected right, only a personal privilege her family may grant her conditionally if they choose, there is no basis for this maxim to apply. Furthermore, having concrete proof that this person does consistently choose abuse over general use of the privilege of interacting with her family, it is reasonable and ethical to treat her with suspicion of future abuse. When somebody abuses a legal right, often it is to the extent of breaking another law, which would be punished in an effort to prevent subsequent breaches of law. This person has certainly breached family rules, and being denied access to her grandkids is both punishment and preventative action.

Iron Noder 2015, 06/30

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