Russell and Duenes

Some People’s Rights Must Be Violated in Order to Secure Rights to Others

with 2 comments

So argued my Constitutional Law professor.

But one wonders whether this argument has any bottom.

It seems to suggest that government is like a wise, benign grandfather, all-knowing, and justly securing rights to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. And so what if some people’s rights have to be violated in order to achieve the goal of more “inclusion” for others. Father Government surely knows how to properly work this out. As Orwell put it, “All animals are equal; but some are more equal than others.”

If the protest is made that securing the rights to some by violating the rights of others is not a utilitarian project designed to achieve the outcome of “equality,” but is merely intended to honor the full rights of everyone, then I’d like to know how it is that we’re honoring the rights of those whose rights need to be violated in order to do so. In other words, this notion likes to sound like it’s honoring the inherent rights of all, but of course, it isn’t. Thus, whether the goal is utilitarian or Kantian or whatever, the fact remains that we are not taking all people’s rights seriously. Further, I doubt that the promoters of such a system can truly avoid a practical utilitarianism anyhow. Seeking to honor the rights of the historically disenfranchised by such social engineering virtually guarantees you’re going to have to look at outcomes, to see if such people are in fact “getting their rights.”

Frankly, I think allowing government to have this kind of power is a disconcerting proposition, particularly when our government these days is committed to answering to no higher standard of justice and righteousness and equity than itself. It’s interesting that, as Dennis Prager often says, the Left charges conservatives with being “facists” and wanting to “control other people,” yet “[t]he left imposes its values on others whenever possible and to the extent possible. That is why virtually every totalitarian regime in the 20th century was left-wing. Inherent to all left-wing thought is a totalitarian temptation. People on the left know that not only are their values morally superior to conservative values, but that they themselves are morally superior to conservatives.” Thus, the Left has no trouble at all assigning to the government, and to courts, the right and power to determine which rights are “fundamental” and to inflict whatever “collateral damage” is necessary to achieve its version of the “fair and equal” society.

But human beings are human beings, God’s image-bearers, and not meant to be collateral damage on the way to some statist version of “equality,” which has never and will never exist. It’s not as though we’ve never seen the above ideology put into practice before. The results may properly be called horrific, even if now, in the hands of American liberals, they seem benign.



Written by Michael Duenes

October 12, 2012 at 7:02 am

Posted in Duenes, Ethics, Government

2 Responses

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  1. “…so what if some people’s rights have to be violated in order to achieve the goal of more “inclusion” for others.” Are you indicating that your rights are being violated so the government might aid the poor or disadvantaged?

    russell and duenes

    October 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    • It’s not necessarily just related to the poor or disadvantaged. Let’s take a religious example: The Hastings School of Law, affirmed by the Supreme Court, has said that the Christian Legal Society on its campus may not bar non-Christians from serving as officers in the Society. Rather, the Christian Legal Society has to “take all comers”, I assume because they say that this is more “fair” or “right.” But of course, it isn’t. So we violate the Christians’ rights ostensibly so that we can be more “inclusive.” This is the kind of thing I think of, but the examples could be multiplied. And yes, even when talking about the poor or disadvantaged, I think it’s a suspect move to have government’s deciding that some people’s fundamental rights are going to be abrogated in order to achieve some policy of “fairness.” I don’t think this means that the government can do nothing for the poor or disadvantaged. Whether my particular rights are being violated, I don’t know, and I don’t think it much matters. It’s the larger principle that I think is problematic.


      russell and duenes

      October 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm

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