VI – Human Rights, and other Bedtime Stories

You Really Don’t Have the Right

Since we’ve established that Rights are a way of disguising Liberalism as Natural Law, we need to figure out what we actually mean when we talk about Rights; and also how to talk about them accurately.

The first thing to do is to expunge from your mind the idea that you have any rights, in fact, at all. Let’s look at this with a classic example of rights:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court. With these rights in mind, are you still willing to talk with me about the charges against you?

Rights are things the Government is willing to let you do. Replace “You have the Right” to “The Government will allow you” and you get the real meaning of Rights. In fact, lets re-examine the Miranda Rights with this modification.

The government will allow you to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law. The government will allow you to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court. With this in mind, are you still willing to talk with me about the charges against you?

The government can just as easily not allow you any of these rights. But the government has voluntarily limited itself with these rules.

So in essence, we are talking about two things when we are talking about Rights.

  1. Natural Law, those things granted to us by God and not authorized or permitted by anyone except God, the infringement of which is an offense not just against Man, but against God.
  2. Those things that the Government voluntarily allows it’s citizens as a method of limiting itself and granting deference to the populace.

And these ideas should not be commingled. So I am going to refer to Natural Law as Natural Law since there is already a word for that and it makes sense. I’m going to refer to the second definition as “privileges”, because that more accurately captures the idea that this is something the Government doesn’t have to allow, but does.

Exploding a perfectly good idea

Now let’s take this idea of privileges and put it in the context of so-called human rights. When people talk about human rights, they are trying to talk about privileges tolerated by government and disguise them as Natural Law. The Natural Law is indeed endowed by God and granted to all people regardless of belief, nationality, etc. All humans, after all, have a certain dignity. But the privileges can only be granted by government. Human Rights are often discussed in international contexts as a way of condemning a certain authority. Like Saudi Arabia, or Israel. the UN in particular likes to complain that those two countries are violators of Human Rights for various reasons. They are saying one of two things:

  1. You do not grant your citizens the same privileges that we grant our citizens, and therefore you should be condemned.
  2. You do not grant your citizens those privileges we as a governing body insist you grant your citizens, and therefore you should be condemned.

You see the problem, now. If they are speaking from the first perspective, they do not have the authority to compel nations to comply with their conception of citizen privileges. Nor does this international body act as an overriding authority for a particular sovereign nation.

Rights then, are the insidious way of attempting to compel other nations (in this context)  to limit itself. One nation cannot compel another to limit itself but through conflict, which is all forms of conflict up to and including war.

Rights are a good bedtime story, a feel good thing that makes citizens feel warm and fuzzy and powerful. Citizens would not be so at ease if they spoke about them accurately.



8 thoughts on “VI – Human Rights, and other Bedtime Stories

  1. Nice post. Your conclusion is perfectly accurate to my way of thinking. You’ll graciously pardon another anecdote I trust, but I got into discussion on the 2nd Amendment “right” to keep and bear arms over 20 years ago when I attended a Hunter’s Safety Course with my then ten year-old son. The question was asked by one of the instructors whether ‘keeping and bearing’ is a right or a privelege? Virtually the entire (excepting myself) immediately answered “right.” I vocally begged to differ; ‘if gun ownership is right and not a privelege,’ I asked the room, ‘then how is it that this so called “right” may be taken away by government?’ The answers I got, such that they were, more or less stated that ‘well, a right may be taken away when it is abused, or for cause.’ Well, okay, but we’re still talking about a privelege and not in fact a right.

    I have been in many many such discussions over the years, and they really just come down to people not thinking things through very well. Not that I’m saying everyone is equally capable of correctly thinking such ideas through, not at all, but simply that emotion tends to trump sober reasoning when a person or persons *really believes in a thing* and has a lot of emotional investment in it.

    In any case, and to change the subject, I really enjoyed Kipling’s poem you posted the link to at the Orthosphere! I have, since I read it, wondered how in the world I have never run across it. It reminded me (here comes yet another anecdote) of the time a couple of years ago that I got into a heated discussion over abortion with a couple of women in the comboxes of another forum. When all was said and done, and in short, one of these fine ‘ladies’ told me in no uncertain terms that “I know where you live and will hunt you down and cut your n*ts out myself.” I’m not exaggerating! When I answered that I would be anticipating her arrival, but would recommend she not attempt to make good on the threat, she replied “oh, please!: women are tougher than men,” and went on to provide me with examples of how so. My answer to that was, very simply, “I don’t know that women are necessarily ‘tougher’ than men, as you assert, but experience has taught me that they are damned sure more ruthless and vindictive than men ever thought of being.” 🙂


  2. Thank you for your insight!

    Regarding the second amendment, Zippy had some excellent insight that i really needed to take time to grok, but you can find some musings on it here:

    Your anecdote helpfully illustrates the problem with the idea of rights. Its cognitive dissonance on full display. People riot in the streets to defend their “rights”, which the declaration of independence conditioned us to accept as equivalent to natural law. Then, with the confidence of someone speaking Truth, your audience all agreed that rights could be taken away. They cannot both be true! But it serves to mask and disguise the efforts ofgovernment to contain the populace in an ideological box. If the populace cannot express their political grievances, there can be no redress!

    Its among my favorite poems, and I read it to my now Brother in Law as caution when he was engaged to my sister. I am fond of anecdotes (so no pardon is ever required!) And have a positive iteration on the same theme: my good friends son was hospitalized as an infant. He said to me that his wifes efforts to get care for her son was “Scary”. Hell hath no fury like a woman acting in defense of her family. I think this is true. Unfortunately, since women have been taught that motherhood and homemaking is somehow a lesser vocation, all that fury becomes misdirected into the futile exercise that is “feminism”.


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