Monday, October 26, 2009

Corruption of Rights

Welfare rights, animal rights, health care rights, and, now, a "right to housing." If we are not careful to call people out when they misuse the term "rights," the term will cease to be useful for its original meaning and our real rights will become fair game for demagogues and tyrants.

Even this self-styled progressive emergency room physician recognizes the dangerous trend to corrupt the language:
Fellow bleeding heart (and shyster) JimII said it well in the comments the other day: rights are limitations on government power. Exactly. When we use the language of "rights," we are generally discussing very fundamental liberties, which are conferred on us at birth, and which no government is permitted to take away: free speech; religion and conscience; property; assembly and petition; bodily self-determination; self-defense, and the like. Freedoms. Nowhere in that list is there anything which must be given to you by others. These are freedoms which are yours, not obligations which you are due from somebody else. There is no right to an education, nor to a comfortable retirement, nor to otherwise profit by the sweat of someone else's labor.
Even though I disagree with the fellow's politics and some of his opinion, especially his comment about Objectivists' being hopelessly muddled (follow the link he provides and decide for yourselves), the entire post is worth reading.  Also see David Kelley's work on this subject, A Life of One's Own and "Is There a Right to Health Care?"

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