When “Rights” are Wrong

While celebrating Houston’s diverse ethnic and racial population, Texas Leftist decries the fact minorities are underrepresented in local and state government. To those on the Left, political power is more important than political freedom.

Until these minority communities discover the true political power which they hold, they will continue to be underserved, underrepresented and under-appreciated.

There is nothing new about particular groups complaining that they lack proportional representation in government. Blacks and women led the charge, and many other groups have jumped on the bandwagon. Each claims that its rights cannot be properly respected unless its members hold positions in government.

Such claims imply that blacks, women, and other minorities have rights that are separate and distinct from whites, men, and the majority. But there is no such thing as black rights, women’s rights, or LGBT rights. There are only individual rights, and they apply to all individuals no matter their race, sex, or sexual orientation. To claim otherwise is to believe that rights apply to groups but not to individuals.

Individual rights recognize and protect the freedom of individuals to act on their own judgment, so long as they respect the freedom of others to do the same.

As an example, individual rights protect the freedom of individuals to enter into relationships with whomever they choose, so long as all parties are acting voluntarily. If two individuals wish to get married, they have a moral right to do so, regardless of their sex.

As another example, individual rights protect the freedom of individuals to exercise control over their own bodies. If an individual wishes to have a medical procedure performed and can find a willing health care professional, she has a moral right to have that procedure.

Much of the animosity in contemporary politics arises from treating rights as a phenomenon that applies to groups rather than individuals. The result is a constant competition between groups to assert their “rights.” Invariably, those “rights” conflict with the actual rights of others.

For example, anti-discrimination laws prevent employers, landlords, and others from using their property as they choose. They are prohibited from using the criteria of their choosing when hiring, renting, or otherwise associating with others. Their right to property and freedom of association is denied under the guise of protecting the “rights” of minorities, gays, and women.

If we want the freedom to live our lives as we choose, we must defend and respect the freedom of others to do the same. We may not always like the choices that they make, but others will not always like the choices that we make. Individual rights protect our freedom to live as we choose, no matter who or how many disagree.

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