Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rex Murphy, Human Rights, Ezra, etc...

HT to Ezra/pointing at Rex Murphy on Human Rights...

From Rex (go read it all...)
The essential point is that the most basic rights, those of freedom of thought, speech and expression, belong to the individual. That is why we call them intrinsic or human rights. They are rights that inhere in our basic status as human beings. They are our most profound rights, belonging to our character as human beings. And, for that reason, we neither multiply them trivially nor dilute their force and meaning by placing them in piecemeal cohabitation with less fundamental accommodations.

Like the right not to wash one's hands while working in a fast-food restaurant, or the alleged right to strip past a certain age, or the right not to be offended by a Mark Steyn article. These "cases" may have merits, and some wild philosopher may articulate those merits. But they do not abide, as rights, on the same plane as freedom of thought, speech and expression. They may be something, but what they are will not be inscribed on any cenotaph: They are not human rights.

Human rights, the real ones, are ours from the beginning. They are not bestowed by the state, because the state does not "own" them; they are not a state's or a ruler's or, for that matter, a human-rights commission's to give. It equally follows that they are not a state's or a commission's to abridge, circumscribe, tamper with or make a toy of.
There's a simple test that goes a long way to deciding if a Human Right as described is real, or simply one of the many made-up fakes masquerading as actual rights these days, and it's this:

Real "rights" don't require that you do anything to, or for, anybody to recognize or provide them; all they require is that you leave other people alone.

So: when it's not a real right, pretty please, stop referring to such things, even casually, as "rights". It just confuses people.

You can always use the term "legal permissions" or "State permissions", or "involuntary taxpayer provided benefits" or "coerced business accommodations" or some such in your efforts to be accurate. You'll find that terms like that fit the bill for essentially all the fake rights.

And, just to be very clear: claims for "positive rights", "economic rights" and "social rights" always and every time are claims against your real rights. They are nothing more than arguments to take your stuff.

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