Rights, Discrimination, and Law

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I really hate what some people have to say, I think they are flat out wrong, and I will do my best to show the inconsistencies of what they are saying, so that if they are being reasonable enough to step back and question some of their premises, they may change their mind. Some people are too stupid to do this. However, they still have every right to spout off their blabbering bullcrap, and be illogical wastes of my time.

A right

There is a word that gets thrown around so much that it has lost most meaning to people that are using it to justify whatever special interest that they fancy.

Two competing views on what constitutes a right can found, mainly positive and negative.
An example can be found to compare the two on Wikipedia:

Adrian has a negative right to X against Clay if and only if Clay is prohibited from acting upon Adrian in some way regarding X. In contrast, Adrian has a positive right to X if and only if Clay is obliged to act upon Adrian in some way regarding x.

I do believe everyone has a negative right to not be discriminated against, but what does that entail?

For starters, if someone wishes to use a public utility it would be a breach of that person’s right to have access to it based on virtually any predisposed characteristic or trait. That is not a matter of the public goods being positively owed to a person by someone else, but that their equal right to that good should not be kept from them.
See, rights are not about what others ought to do to or for you, but what they ought not to do and what they cannot do to you.

I do not have to serve you (even if some other moral code urges me to, such as Christian ethics) based on negative rights, but I cannot impede your freedom.

But do we have positive rights to discrimination? Do we have positive rights to anything? In short, no.

The main issue with positive rights is that they end up contradicting our negative rights. If someone has a positive right to your service, how then does that person have a negative right to their liberty? This inconsistency is easily corrected when we start to look at social contract theory. One can absolutely be in contracted duty to another person, but prior to said contract, they have no positive right to that persons services. Even a liberal democrat like Cass Sunstien (who attempts to show that negative rights necessitate taxation) agrees with me on their applicability.

Slavery is wrong; most people do not deny this. But forced labor is slavery. Positive rights necessitate forced labor, which implies a form of slavery. Therefore, positive rights are wrong.

Today in Springfield Missouri people will be voting on a proposition to repeal a certain discrimination clause within the city ordinance. Nationally the issue has been coming up due to Indiana’s new Religious Freedom law. Many people (on both sides of the debate) have weighed in about human rights and what ought to be protected (religious freedoms or freedom from discrimination).
There is really a mixed bag of answers, but if we can clarify firstly that no one has positive rights, we can then move forward to creating laws that neither discriminate or impose positive rights onto others. One commentator made a great distinction that follows the classical liberal understanding that I have attempted to lay out today.

In closing, just remember that not everything that looks good is, and not everything that is gold glitters.



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