Ten Mistakes—3. Fighting For Your Rights

In the political sense, rights are suppose to define the principles of how individuals ought to relate to one other in a society. Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and property, which means they have a right to live their life as they choose without the interference of any other individual or individuals. Since these rights can only be violated by some individual or agency of individuals using force, the use of force between individuals must be banned. The agency charged with maintaining the ban is the government. Unfortunately, governments are the chief violators of individual rights both historically and today.

But there really are no such things as "rights." If we take the almost universally undisputed example of, "a right to life," what does it mean? Let's suppose it means you have a right to live without being murdered, which if it means anything it must at least mean. If someone does murder you, you are dead—you have no life. Now just where do "rights" enter into this? Even if there were such a thing as a right to life, if you are murdered, the so-called right is worthless and meaningless.

There are actually two parts of this issue: one is social (political), the other is private (individual). People who believe in rights may try to set up a social system (government) to ensure that people's "rights" are protected. That has not worked out very well historically.

The more important part is how an individual relates to other individuals. Whether it is called rights, or just the recognition of another human life, the individualist is not going to murder anyone, steal their property, or interfere in their life in any way, because the free individual recognizes only one means of dealing with others, by reason.

If you lived in a society of independent individualists, what you called your rights would be guaranteed, but in such a society there would be no need for such a concept.

I'm not talking about the concept of rights as it is used in the philosophy of politics, but that unstated idea that a right is something one deserves and ought to have simply because they were born.

Whatever one believes their rights are, if those rights have somehow been violated, it only proves the supposed right did not exist. For example, if someone supposes they have a right to free speech, and they are arrested and put in jail for exercising their supposed right, they obviously did not have that right.

The political theorist will argue that everyone has a right of free speech, but the right can be violated. Then what is a right? What does it mean to say you have a right to do something if, in fact, you cannot do it?

Suppose a woman waits for a green light and starts to walk across the street when it turns green, even though she sees a car coming that is going much to fast to be able to stop. She had the, "right of way," but she's dead.

If you live someplace where anyone is free to say or write whatever they please without consequence, that is freedom of speech. Even if everyone agrees there is no such right, everyone still has freedom of speech. On the other hand, if you live someplace that loudly proclaims everyone has a right to free speech, but in fact no one is allowed to write or say anything against the government, any government policy, of anything that some people are offended by, they do not have freedom of speech.

Keep your rights. Give me freedom.

A "right" is something that has to be supplied or guaranteed by someone else. That is even what the founders said. Assuring us that our rights are given to us by God, we still won't have them unless men form governments to make sure we have them. [See, "Untrue Things People Believe—Rights."

At the end of that article, I wrote:

"There is no such thing as rights. No one has a claim on anything in life that they have not produced, earned, or merited by their own effort. The pursuit of rights is an immoral pursuit of the unearned and undeserved, as well as a huge waste of one's resources."

In the end, even if there were such a thing as rights, they are worthless wherever the facts contradict them. They are what people would like to have, or think they ought to have, but in reality there are no such things.

You do not have a right to anything. Whatever it is you believe you must have, from freedom to wealth, you must provide it yourself by your own choices and effort. If you do not, you certainly do not deserve it, and you certainly do not have a right to it.

What to remember:                  You Do Not Have A Right To Anything!