Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Laci on Rights

Laci wrote a wonderful post exploring the byzantine and bizarre world of "rights." 

I have to admit that I find the US concept of rights to be incredibly biased and ignorant. It seems that they are stuck in the rut of inalienable rights, natural rights, god given rights, and pre-existing rights. Various definitions of inalienability include non-relinquishability, non-salability, and non-transferability. If one thinks about it, all those terms are gibberish.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. We can just call them “rights” if he prefers.

  2. My comment to her blog post:

    Where it gets dangerous is when we raise the value of America’s Bill of Rights above common sense, and start viewing it almost as some sort of religious doctrine, not to be touched, ammended, or even questioned.

    As example, we see that in the values of extreme pro-second-amendment rights adherents, who hold that amendment as more important than the safety of the people, and stretch the overly-simplified statement of the second amendment to such an extreme that no law limiting gun availability is considered allowable, no matter how many people are killed or injured (100,000 a year in the U.S.) or how deadly the weapons used.

    In the end, I believe the primary purpose of a valid government is to safeguard its people’s welfare. Anything else would make the government tyranical.

  3. I find it extremely narrow minded to suggest that just because a society doesn't believe in something, it simply doesn't exist.

    If a society has decided that a man has a right to kill a woman with no reason required, does that mean that the woman's right to life doesn't exist? That she has no right to self defense?

    If a society decides that nobody owns their own possessions and everything is shared by all, does that mean that nobody has a right to personal property, or that the people unknowingly waive that right because of the current culture?

    Rights are not granted by governments. Even the Supreme Court understands that our rights are not granted by the Bill of Rights and exist independently of that document.

    To paraphrase, the greatest trick a Tyrant ever pulled was convincing the people their rights didn't really exist.


  4. @Baldr: You can believe the primary purpose of a valid government is to safeguard its people's welfare. I believe, as the founders did, that it exists to safeguard the people's unalienable rights.

    With, of course, the added recognition of the rights of ALL people, not just white male landowners... We should be moving FORWARD in the direction of protection of rights for more people, not BACKWARD eliminating the protections of our rights for a negligible (if any) increase in "public safety."


  5. Just like the pro-gun crowd say the individual RKBA is necessary to exercise the more fundamental right to life, I say strict gun control laws are what's required to properly enjoy that right, the right to life.

    Why would their idea be more valid than mine?

  6. There's no such thing as natural rights. If you think about it, the entire concept of natural rights hinges on belief in some supernatural power.

  7. @Mikeb: Because your idea (strict gun controls) hasn't been proven to make a substantial (or consistent) difference in saving lives, that's why.

    If someone shoots an innocent person, who is responsible for infringing on the victim's right to life - the person that shot them, or the rest of society?

    If government exists to protect individual rights, it doesn't do so by pre-emptively trying to limit the free exercise and take responsibility away from those that commit crimes - it protects rights by creating laws to hold people accountable for their infringements on the rights of others and ensuring a mechanism for justice.

    i.e. we don't prevent anyone from speaking in a theater in case someone yells "FIRE!" We don't require speaking licenses, or physically restrain (duct tape?) people from opening their mouths in a theater to prevent the abuse of the right of free speech. Instead, we hold the person that yells "fire" accountable for their actions and injury they cause and thereby provide justice for the victims.

    The right to life means that we have the right to defend that life, and that others who attempt to infringe upon it are the criminals that should be held accountable.


  8. That gibberish says a lot about lacithebitch.