Rights Are Important; Know What They Are

Let’s talk about rights…

I feel like we have to do this because a lot of people don’t seem to understand the concept very much.

Their biggest puzzlement seems to revolve around the concept that everyone – all 320 million of us – have the same rights. Yes, that’s right; if you think you have the right to not wear a face mask in public, then so do your neighbors, including the Black, Brown neighbors and the Asians. Likewise, if you have the right to bear any arms you wish anywhere you want to, then so does the Black man who lives across town and thinks people like you are white assholes.

See, you can’t have a right that only applies to you. That’s called a privilege and the Constitution pretty much outlaws privilege.

What triggered me to write this piece was all the news stories in which people who refused to wear a face mask in public and cited their rights as the rationale for their refusal. Most of them cited a right of some kind for not wearing a mask, and all I could think was, they don’t know what rights are.

No, you do NOT have a right to not wear a ma=sk when the government makes it mandatory. That is because our rights are always in balance with the rights of all other people; not just the 320 million people who are US citizens, but also those who come to this country from other places, whether they are tourists or migrants. Yes, that’s right; all the winning from Trumpers about how great he is on Immigration by refusing their entry or limiting their ability to do certain things when they’re here; are all ignorant about rights, This should surprise no one, since they’re supporting a politician who lies almost every time he speaks. His latest campaign ads claim he built the strongest economy in history,” for example, which would have been a lie, even if he hadn’t completely bungled the coronavirus response.

The only thing Donald Trump has done over the past 3 1/2 years, economically speaking, is to not do anything bad enough to put the brakes to the economic recovery of Barack Obama. Look back and ask yourself what steps he has taken to improve the economy. And no, the massive tax cut is not one; in fact, the main reason we had to borrow money to pay for the COVID-19 stimulus was because the Republican tax cut slashed revenues too much to make the government comfortable.

Alright, that’s enough about Trump. This post is about rights. You have the right to vote and express yourself politically, and no one can take that away, not even Republicans, as much as they would like to. They have said, in no uncertain language, that they don’t want everyone to vote, and that anything that makes it easy for everyone to vote goes against their political philosophy. The problem for them is, of course, everyone who is a citizen has the right to vote and every attempt they make to limit voting is a violation of rights. Yeah, that’s right; making you wear a mask is NOT a violation of anyone’s rights, but preventing anyone from voting is a clear violation of rights.

It’s important that we all understand the concept of rights, but it is even more important to understand that everyone has them, not just you. There are no such things as “individual rights;” if one person has a right, everyone has the same right. Consider this; if you exercise your right toy free speech, someone who opposes you and tell =s you your opinion is wrong is simply them exercising their right, as well. It is not a “violation” of your right to free speech; it’s a reinforcement that the right to free speech is universal, and not just yours.

One last thing; your rights are only enforceable against the government. The government has a mandate to honor everyone’s rights. If someone writes a Facebook post that you don’t like, as long as the statement is not defamatory or untrue, you have nothing to say about it, except to exercise your own free speech rights, as long as you don’t defame them.

One other thing about rights; they’re never unlimited. One of the government’s most important jobs is to find the balance between everyone’s rights. Your rights end when they start to limit or infringe on another’s rights in some way.

When it comes to wearing face masks, you have the right to not wear masks when there is no emergency. However, when there is one, your local and state government have police powers, which means they can require it. It’s also helpful to remember, the mask is not just to keep you safe; in fact, it’s mostly to keep you from giving it to others. It’s possible to have the virus and have zero symptoms and it’s possible to pass it to someone else without knowing you have it. In other words, the use of the mask means finding a balance between your right to not wear a mask and others’ right to life and health. And I can’t imagine that very many people would rate the right to not wear a mask ahead of the right to life and health. Nor should they, although I suppose it’s their right to think that way…

Rights are important, but so is knowing what they are.


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