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  1. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    The Rights Stuff

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by JJ_Maxx, Feb 18, 2014.

    We talk a lot about rights in this forum. Basic human rights, civil rights, religious rights...

    Well, I would like to peel back the layers and dissect the true meaning and existence of rights.

    Our society seems to be bringing more and more amenities under the umbrella of 'rights'. Things like access to the internet or cellular telephones, for example.

    Are rights completely dependent upon the government? Do we have rights in a vacuum?

    Can our rights be dependent on someone else? If we have a right to food, for instance, who has a duty to make that right happen? Can it really be a right if it can be absolutely unavailable?

    How much does a right to life really mean when there are no police and people wish to kill you?

    If we say that a right is something society deems would be good for everyone to have because the ability to deliver it exists, what happens when that ability disappears?

    Is there a difference between giving people rights and allocating resources? Could we say, everyone has the right to $100?

    Is the over-use of rights diminish the whole concept?

    It also seems that in the US, we are slowly moving away from the right to the 'pursuit of happiness' to the right of 'happiness'. It seems we don't feel the pursuit is 'fair'.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts.
     
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  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Do rights exist in nature? Philosophers back in the 18th (ish) century got away with the idea of there being "natural rights" such as life and liberty. These rights were assumed to either exist in nature (doesn't really make sense) or have come from God (makes more sense as long as you're a believer). Once you strip away all the assumptions, you're left with the fact that rights are merely a human invention.

    That might be a shorter answer than you wanted, but it's been a long day.
     
  3. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I agree with this. I think it is a human invention and really doesn't exist without an authority to make it happen.
     
  4. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Just as an aside, I 'starred' in an infomercial about eight years ago. One major point of contention between the company producing the infomercial and I was the line that began, "You too deserve..." implying some inherent 'right' and which ended with the viewer paying just $19.95 plus shipping and handling to find themselves in possession of the product which would allow them to capitalize on their 'rights'.

    I can't imagine that it is necessary to explain (here) the problem I had with the idea that you could buy your rights for any amount.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...not always only 'upon the government' and not always 'completely'...

    ...they are 'bestowed' by a government upon its people, even though said rights may be 'universal' in nature and should not have to be handed out as inducements, or as bonuses...

    ...but some are also 'given' to followers of this or that religion, by this or that deity...

    ...no... they usually come to us accompanied by certain responsibilities... as in, we have the right to do/have this/that, only if we do/don't do this/that...

    ...they can and often are... we have the right to this/that only if exerting that right does not infringe on another's right... a good example of that is the water war that's been waged between california/arizona/mexico for generations... one state can't legally or morally exert their right to access a fresh water source, while limiting another state's right to it...

    ...no one has a legal duty to do so, beyond parents' law-enforced responsibility [in some countries] to not withhold food from their children, though many feel that all of us have a moral duty to make health-sufficient food available for everyone on the planet... which is, sad to say, a practical impossibility...

    ...good point... there really isn't any inalienable 'right to food'... there is only the physiological requirement for it, in order to sustain one's life...

    ...it becomes meaningless, of course... and is a horrific fact of life for billions, in many parts of our human-fashioned world...
    ...it then becomes just a futile 'wish'... which is what it is for many today and had been for many others, throughout human history...

    ...of course... a major difference!... one is 'intent' and the other 'action'...

    ...we could say everyone has the right to anything... but that wouldn't make it true, or logical/practical...

    ...it could... and probably does, to some extent...

    ...what some [or many/most] may 'feel' doesn'tnecessarily make it true... there have been and always will be dissent over which 'rights' are inherent and should be protected by law and which aren't/shouldn't be...

    ...you just did [well, read them, anyway ;)]...

    ...i'm glad you brought this up, jj!... it's a subject everyone should consider seriously...

    love and hugs, maia
     
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  6. Mackers
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    Mackers Contributing Member

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    The fundamental thing about rights you need to remember is that they clash with other rights. It's interesting that you mention -

    In court cases you'll often see it places people in an adversarial positions with one another. Which rights trumps which kind of thing...Say the police bugs your home because it suspects you of crime. Your right to privacy (Bearing in mind privacy is one right mentioned in the European convention of human rights) immediately becomes diminished if that is the case, on the basis that the police is protecting other rights which are engaged.

    A lot of rights are qualified rights, some are said to be absolute (but not always), and some are complete fabrications by people (You always here people say, 'but this is my right! [insert whatever the hell it is they're talking about]

    Rights have an important history because they've been created to deal with certain injustices such as the race problems that America is plagued with. But their usefulness in dealing with widespread social problems is questionable
     
  7. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I'm going to have to agree 100% with @mammamaia. Those are my thoughts exactly, though stated more plainly and clearly than I might have been able to pull off. Thanks for the insight, maia! and thank you for the question @JJ_Maxx! We really do need to give this more heavy consideration.
     
  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Some rights you have to fight for. The right to party comes to mind.
     
  9. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Could rights be broken down into quid pro quo agreements between two people or entities? Back in the hunter/gatherer days, was there a right to life before it was agreed that I won't kill you if you don't kill me.

    This government grants you the right to life and pursue happiness as long as you agree to support said government.

    The mafia and pimps dole out similar rights.

    Is it a right if you never agreed to the contract?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  10. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Yeah, I think our rights are simply the basic things an authority will do to give everyone a basic chance. The basic rights in the US are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    The government of the US will prevent people from killing you.
    The government of the US will prevent people restricting your actions or movements.
    The government of the US will not place anything in your way of pursuing your desires, granted they don't infringe on the first two.

    The only 'God-given' right is the right to your own mind and thoughts.
     
  11. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Unless the US government wants you to be killed and then they will do it themselves.

    Unless the US government wants to restrict your actions or movements.

    ...and once again.

    Really, this response was mostly meant to illicit a smile here and there but unfortunately I do believe it to be true. I was having a discussion with a friend the other day and was comparing the Christian 'Lord's Prayer' with the Muslim's 'Fathia'. He had never heard of it before and so I went home and tried to look it up. Ironically, I was prevented from accessing 11 of 13 Muslim sites but did get rerouted once to a page talking about how people in China are prevented from certain websites by their government.... horrors.

    On a more serious note though: I have never been one who has been accused of being paranoid. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Yet I had misgivings about looking up anything Muslim on my home computer so that a friend and I could continue a comparative religion conversation.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, it won't... because it can't!

    if that were true, there would be no homicides or terrorist attacks, would there?... nor would there be any kidnappings, or states' laws prohibiting gay marriage, abortion, et al.

    all the US government can do is to enact laws that make certain things illegal and set penalties for breaking those laws...
     
  13. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Yes but the spirit behind laws is to prevent people from infringing on your rights. It goes without saying that it is not 100% effective, but that is the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
     
  14. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rights are, in practice, a carrot - things the government and marketing executives tell us we have, when in fact they're things they have, which they doll out like sweets when it suits them or take away when it doesn't. If we owned rights, why are they ignored or flouted whenever the government - which can be anyone, from council employees, to social services, to the cultural ministry, if the Olympics are coming - smells convenience?

    One of my punk rocker friends told me the only society in which we own rights is an anarchist one, and it pains me to say it - I am not an anarchist - but he was right.
     
  15. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    It seems you talk about government like it is something other than the people themselves.
     
  16. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Under a government that acts like it is something other than the people themselves, it's more accurate.
     
  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I think the only innate right is to be left alone as long as you leave others alone.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'discourage' hopefully, but no law can in any way 'prevent' people from committing unwanted acts...
     
  19. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Not until the government places thought monitors in everyone's head. Then the government can be alerted when someone starts to think murderous thoughts. Ooh, they should also put a kill code in the chip so they could kill someone remotely to remove response time. On second thought... maybe that's not a good idea.
     
  20. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    "Thought crime doesn't entail death. Thought crime is death..." ;)
     
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  21. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Hopefully things like that will remain in the realm of science fiction. ;)
     
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