12 May 2004
Shot by both sides
Susanna Cornett points to this Charley Reese column, ostensibly about Michael Moore, which offers an explanation of the difference between rights we have and rights some of us think we deserve. And that difference?
The best way to understand the difference between a true right and a falsely claimed right is that a true right does not compel anyone else to do anything except leave us alone.
That's why it is wrong to say that people have a "right to medical care." To say this implies that someone else must be compelled to provide it. Medical care that is affordable is a desirable social goal, but it is not a right. Ditto education, housing, jobs and other economic benefits.
Reese goes on to provide a definition of a truly free society:
A truly free society is one in which people can think, say and do what they please as long as they don't infringe on other people's rights to think, say and do what they please. No one has a right to not be offended. No one has a right to demand that others agree with him or her. No one has a right to utter defamatory falsehoods. The reason maintaining a free society is so difficult is that it butts heads with the itch many people have to control other people.
And am I imagining things, or has there been an upsurge in itchy buttheads in recent weeks?
Some controls are necessary to create the order and predictability a society must have to function, and societies also make laws delineating moral boundaries. The head-butting comes from competing views of what those controls and boundaries should be.
I don't think we'll ever get everyone to agree on the location of those boundaries, but the phrase that pays is "competing views": each gets its chance in the marketplace of ideas. If some of them get shot down, well, that's the way the system works. A surprisingly large number of people believe that if their trial balloons don't fly, it's the result of a conspiracy by Those Other People; it can't possibly be because their ideas were laughed off the market.
TrackBack: 9:38 AM, 12 May 2004
» Rights and Inflation from Acorns from an Okie
Charles Reese has an interesting quote in Michael Moore: While I'm no fan of the present-day Disney corporation, it has a right to block the distribution of any film by its own subsidiaries. Moore, a pseudo-blue-collar multimillionaire, apparently does......[read more]