When “Rights” are Wrong

Chronicle business reporter Chris Tomlinson calls Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his allies bigots for their support of a “bathroom bill.” Tomlinson goes on to write:

Today, transgender people are fighting hard for their liberty, which is why bigots are proposing unnecessary laws to deny them the ability to live as they wish.

Through the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), these supposed advocates of liberty attempted to force Houston business owners to cater to their desires. They proposed and supported a law that would have denied Houston business owners the ability to live as they wish.

To claim that the liberty of transgender people can only be achieved by violating the liberty of business owners is worse than a contradiction. It is a gross perversion of the concept. One individual’s liberty is not, and cannot be, achieved through the subversion of another’s liberty.

Liberty means the absence of coercion. It means the freedom to act according to one’s own judgment, so long as one respects the rights of others to do the same.

HERO proposed to criminalize acting on one’s own judgment in regard to certain “protected characteristics,” such as age, race, military status, and gender identification.

The proponents of “transgender rights” imply that transgenders have rights separate and distinct from non-transgenders. Like the advocates of “gay rights” and “women’s rights,” they fail to understand that there are only individual rights, and those rights apply to all individuals, no matter their sexual preference, sex, or gender identity.

If transgenders and their advocates really want to advance their cause, they would advocate for individual rights. They would support the right of each individual—including business owners—to live as they wish.

2 comments to When “Rights” are Wrong

  • James

    I’ve been toying around for the past few years with a test for rights: to be a right, something must 1) be applicable universally, and 2) not infringe upon the rights of anyone else. To expand on these: If some “right” is applicable only to a certain group of people, it’s not a right it’s a privilege. That’s not necessarily bad–the entire concept of a representative republic rests on delegating to the governing body the privilege of making laws, for example. But Congress does not have the RIGHT to make laws. Similarly, the “right” to healthcare would be impossible to demand if there were no doctors, and negates the right of freedom of association on the part of the doctors. A “right” to use any bathroom that you don’t own is nonsense, much less a “right” to use specific bathrooms!

    You’ve also hit upon one reason why I am not a feminist. Feminism is, today, either collectivism, vile anti-male bigotry, or–if it advocates liberty and equality of opportunity under the law–redundant and therefore unnecessary, depending on the branch any particular feminist subscribes to.

    I do think that you’ve missed an important point though: the transgender movement uses the word “wish”. I don’t think that’s an accident. The key issue isn’t reality for many of these advocacy groups, but desire. If you want something, that’s enough to say you deserve it! To be clear, I’ve no problem with transgendered people; it’s your body, and to say that you can’t alter it is to say that I own it. I’m just saying that given my experience with minority advocacy groups, the use of the term “wish” is not accidental; it’s an insight into how they approach problems and society as a whole.

    • Brian Phillips

      I haven’t noticed the transgender movement using the word “wish,” but it doesn’t surprise me. As you note, many of these groups equate their desires (and often their needs) with rights. And they expect others to satisfy those desires or needs, regardless of one’s personal judgment.