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Friday, December 04, 2015

The New Rights

Back in 1776 the Colonists in America penned a Declaration of Independence that included these words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
Rights. Indeed, "unalienable" rights. They are "unalienable" because they are "endowed by their Creator".

Well, good news! We've moved on! We know better. America started with Rights endowed by a Creator, but we've legislated that Creator out of business. Now we're fixing up our own Rights based on our own views without any real reason for them except that, well, we want them. And we're getting quite creative without a Creator.

A recent new Right endowed without a Creator was the right to redefine the ancient concept of "marriage" and then declare that this new definition (no one is yet clear exactly what that new definition is, except that it is not what it was before) applied to everyone who wanted it ... as long as they fell within the new parameters. (For instance, "same-sex" fell within the parameters. "Bisexual" did not. This select non-redefinition of marriage included people of the same sex, but did not include more than two or animals or anything else that, for reasons unknown, were excluded from this new version.) So, in the '60's we made sure that any man who wanted to marry a woman (or vice versa) had that right. Now we made sure that any one person that wanted to ... "marry" isn't right, but, whatever ... have some sort of exclusive (or not) relationship with another that would henceforth be called "marriage" had that right. That was recently.

Today we have a new one. The new Right endowed without a Creator these days is "the Right not to feel bad," the Right not to be offended. An obvious place I've seen this is in the glut of lawyer commercials offering to sue over your medical problems. You know how that goes. You take a medication -- say, a blood thinner to keep you from dying -- and, as it turns out, it thins the blood -- you know, like it says on the bottle that it might -- and you get to sue because the medication did what it said it would and caused what it said it might even though you were informed of this before you took the medication. Because, you see, it's your Right not to feel bad. A University president is upsetting people with his claim that his university is "not a 'safe place'" where you can expect to have your feelings coddled. It's a place to learn, to be convicted of sin, to realize life is not all about you. On London subways people are handing out "cruel cards" that are leaving people in tears. This kind of thing is unacceptable. One person who tweeted the story said, "This is hateful and cowardly and could potentially upset people struggling with confidence."1 Or how about these school protests of late where students "don't feel safe" not because they're actually threatened, but because they're uncomfortable. They are complaining about "the negative social climate" and "colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism." (Seriously, that's a quote from the story. I don't even know what "anti-Latinx racism" is, and I'm sad that I know what "cis-sexism" is.) Administrators are executed ... or, rather, fired. Demands are made. In the recent University of Missouri bruhaha, for instance, they included "the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe as UM system president" and the increase of "the percentage of black faculty and staff campus-wide to 10%" (which is odd because black students only make up 7% of the student body). You see, it's not "we don't feel safe" or even "racism". It's "We're not happy and we have the right to be!" The other obvious place you'll find this one is in the day-after-day news stories of protests on the subject. Businesses, it seems, are not in business to do business. They're in business to "provide a living wage". I don't know when that change occurred, but since employees of thousands of franchised fast food places are unhappy with their wages, they are going to war over it. Or there's the mad rush -- from all sides -- against saying anything "unkind". Trump didn't respond correctly to someone who claimed that the president wasn't born in America. Hillary laughed at someone's comment about wishing to kill Carly Fiorina. A flower shop owner opted out of making flowers for a friend's mirage2 but offered a list of other people who would gladly do it and was sued. Why are people in a snit? Because something was said that made them feel bad. And there is a Right not to feel bad. You see, in the last case, the florist was standing on a First Amendment Right and the offended party was standing on this new Right and the First Amendment took a hit because this new one trumps that one.

These new Rights are so fluid and baseless that you have to wonder what comes next. One candidate is arguing that it is a Right to have free healthcare. I'm not sure where that came from, but people are applauding. The government is pretty sure you have the Right to be whatever gender you feel like and no one has the right to think ... you know ... in narrow scientific realities whether that's true. What about "freedom from religion"? Is that Right coming? I don't know why not. The Creator is no longer an issue. And it wouldn't be the first time a society declared war on Christianity. But, don't worry. They'll do it in the name of "inclusiveness" and even "diversity" by being non-inclusive and eliminating the diverse. Because apparently diversity is getting close to being both redefined and a Right, too. Who knows?
1 I'm not suggesting this is okay. It simply illustrates the point.
2 I'm not making a spelling error here. I'm spelling the word right. I'm making a point.

1 comment:

Stan said...

Footnote 1 is intended to convey that I'm not condoning "fat-shaming"; I'm saying that the complaint "It may upset people struggling with confidence" illustrates the right not to be offended.