Monday, January 07, 2008

Rights are for individuals

Ophelia is giving it with both barrels to those who trumpet ‘group rights’. Specifically, she deals with those who support ‘religious rights’ as giving ‘specificity’ to the usual notion of human rights, and those who (typically with religious motivation) support ‘the rights of the family’.

The thing about rights, you see, is that you choose how and whether you exercise them. How does a group make that choice? Where does the power in that group lie? What happens to the weaker members who may disagree?

That we form and maintain groups is one of the most essential and wonderful things about human nature; but groups are good precisely insofar as they are good for all their members. Unequal, exploitative and coercive groupings – be they familial or religious or whatever – serve to stifle what’s best in humanity.

Rights are for individuals – including the right to form a group with others, the right to exercise other rights in partnership with fellow members of a group, and the right to leave a group.

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