John Steward of Jesus
  The "Good News" (Gospel) > Sporadic Log > Are all people "persons"?

Are all people "persons"?

(Posted as comments on Information Clearing House regarding an article titled, "Court Declares Corporations are People, Some Human Beings are Not")

February 12, 2008

The headline is probably misleading because it seems to assume that "people" and "persons" are interchangeable terms. Legally, they may be quite different. The body of the report speaks of "persons", not "people".

If "people" means men and women with beating hearts, they are creatures of their maker and subject to His laws.

"Persons" are usually legal creations of the empowered legal authorities, and subject to their man-made laws. Those who create have authority to determine the nature of their creations and to place requirements on them.

This is one of the many confusing aspects of legalese which are used to entrap people in abusive systems.

February 13, 2008

This can be like so many "talks" which go round and round because words are used with different understandings of their meanings.

Many years ago I concluded that there is little point arguing what a word must mean or always means. It's fine with me if any word means anything specified, so long as everyone involved in the dialog understands. Words are only tools for better communication.

To understand how "person" is used in sources such as the one featured, it is helpful for me to remember that the word is related to "persona", the mask or character assumed by actors in early dramatic productions. Any actor can become the "persona" Julius Caesar. The "person" in the play is created by the writer and producer, and subject to their control. Actor Steve may truthfully say on stage, "I am Caesar." But the man Steve does not become Caesar. He only speaks as that "person".

Similarly, the man Steve may become the "person" described as a resident, citizen, voter, taxpayer, mayor, senator, or president in a production regarded as a government among men. He alone or with others may become a "corporation" which acts as a "person" in the production.

To insist that all men and women are "persons" in a political realm is like insisting that all of them have a role in the production of Julius Caesar. To say that a computer can't be a person is to say that an actor can't stand on stage and speak as the personification of a computer. If any actor is willing to assume the role, the computer can be a "person".

The question of who or what is a legal person is quite separate and different from the question of who is a man or woman who enjoys the rights of all people on earth.