Sunday, May 22, 2011

More on Rights

Way back in September, I explained why we don't have the rights we think we do and why the concept of modern human rights is stupid. In this post, I'll explain what rights really are, and why that differs from public opinion of what they are.

I'm good at being blunt. The declaration of a right is a threat.

We've already established that the idea of "inalienable" rights is stupid. I can alienate you from your guns, from your tongue, and from your head. If I am strong enough, there's nothing you can possibly do about this. Even if you were Lord High Emperor of America, with all her assets, if I were stronger, I could still alienate any of the commonly so-called "inalienable" rights from you. So, then, what is a right? Surely these animals are not mythical, like unicorns or benevolent African dictators.

A right is an ability protected by law, and thus force of arms.

As a brief tangent before we dive into the meat of this article, I ask you: Are any of the things you would commonly ascribe as your "rights" actually rights? As in, will the government, with their force of arms defend your "right" to free speech, to keep and bear arms, or to not have troops quartered in your house consistently and predictably?

The answer, of course, is no, they won't.

A right, for example, the right of a King to choose his bride, or the right of a government to quell dissent, whether declared or not is something that you can expect violent reprisal for violating. If you try to deny the King his chosen bride, Jessica Alba (presumably because you're on of her many stalkers adoring fans), the King will respond in force. He may just arrest you (let's face, it, you're just not that big of a threat), or he may decide to kill you. That's his right, and yes, it's because he said so (he has all the tanks and nukes, after all).

So, then, what precisely is happening when a Tea Partier says "I have a right to free speech!" or a pro-abortion activist says "I have a right to my own body (and to do with my fetuses how I choose)!"?

They're threatening you with violence if you don't do as they say. This in and of itself isn't a bad thing, but when 300 million citizens, no matter how sociopathic or deluded they may be, believe they have more rights than you can even think of (ranging from a right to "the pursuit of happiness" to the right to assassinate public officials), you end up with situations like this (warning, disturbing and graphic).

By my definition, did that man have a right to do what he did? He successfully defended it with force... Until they caught him and executed him.

Now, a government may have good reason to use violence. It might need to defend itself from foreign invaders. It might need to keep civil order. Thus, the government declaring rights for itself isn't a bad thing, because that declaration is an honest threat, presuming the government actually retains dominion over its claimed territory. It is warning you: Don't fuck with me, I have tanks.

It's important for the populace to know where the line is. Thus, a right when applied to a government becomes a law, and laws are important.