The thread of Liberal Stupidity


#2004

Does a 16 year old have an inherent right to vote that is suppressed by the US government, or do they have no right to vote at all? And how do you tell?

What better place than the stupid thread?


#2005

Here’s a simple way to conceptualize this:

A “right” is an expression of how we think things should be. These rights can gain legal status in a bunch of ways, such as by being enshrined in a Constitution or other statement of law. They can also exist as aspirations of what the law should be, even if the law does not currently contain such protections or is not currently interpreted as containing such protections.

Declaring something a “right” is a statement of value, and often a call to action to protect that right.

The rest is all semantics.


#2006

I’m with magnet here.
Rights granted by laws are the same as rights granted by the Constitution.

And while we may have the belief that some rights are inherent, this is really just a matter of personal opinion. It doesn’t actually matter until codified by law, because rights only actually matter if you can defend them. Rights that cannot be defended don’t matter.

There are essentially two types of “rights”. One is an abstract notion, which exists only as a concept to discuss. The other is an actual thing which is enforced by realworld power, and affects our lives. The first can become the second, but it’s not a real factor until it is.

That is, our notion of what rights people should have can influence how we cause our government to behave. It can influence what the government creates as a set of rights, enforced by the power of the government. But the notion of “inherent rights” is meaningless outside of the context of that.


(Non-Political) Rights, Ethics, and Morality
#2007

I was specifically speaking to natural rights. I think the term “rights” is poorly used when speaking to legal rights.

I don’t know that anyone, 16 or 60, has a “right” to vote, in the natural sense. To self-determination, sure, but not to the determination of anyone else’s lives. Those aren’t what I would call rights at all. Maybe privileges?


#2008

Does a 16 year old have an inherent right to property that is suppressed by their parents via the US government, or do they have no right to property at all? And how do you tell?


#2009

Where is the right to life codified in law? Do we have it?


#2010

Roe V Wade.


#2011

I know it’s hard to believe that I’m writing this, but I agree with @Timex here.


#2012

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#2013

West Wing had this debate already.

In fact, there are so many issues that we talk about today that have been talked about on the West Wing, a show over a decade old.


#2014

@Timex is describing laws and power, not rights. You can as easily argue that there is no such thing as right or wrong, only law, but you’d be wrong.


#2015


#2016

If we want to continue that conversation it’ll have to be from a treadmill desk, though, or maybe voice typing.


#2017

Oh, you think there’s an absolute right and wrong, defined objectively?

This perhaps merits a separate thread, as it could be an interesting discussion outside the normal constraints of political partisanship, and it has nothing to do with liberal or conservative views.


#2018

My only reply to that would be that one administration on congress can undo the laws that the previous one has done. That isn’t true with constitutional “rights”. True a court can modify or change them based on some kind of legislation or argument, but that is a much more difficult process than just changing a law.


#2019

We’re going to do the ethical framework philosophy thing again, aren’t we? I suppose it has been a while.


#2020

Heh, I studied it for years in college, so I always find it interesting.


#2021

I think that’s the wrong question, really, in particular the defined objectively part. That said, I do think some things are right and some wrong, and I think the notions are founded in our heritage as social creatures, and enlightened by a few thousand years of thinking about societies.

By way of illustration, the Nuremberg laws were surely laws, and the government of the time clearly had the power to enforce them; but that didn’t stop the whole thing from being a violation of some people’s rights, even though those putative rights didn’t exist in law. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?


#2022

You can easily argue that right and wrong exist, yet there is no such thing as an inherent “right”. In fact the notion of “natural rights” is a relative novelty in the 2000+ year history of moral philosophy.


#2023

I don’t think that’s right. People wrote about natural rights as far back as e.g. Cicero. They may not have used the term ‘natural right’, but no one really disputes that that’s what they were talking about.