One of the ways law is used in the United States is to level the playing field. Our society believes that everyone should have an equal shot. That means no one should have an unfair advantage over someone else.
Let us overlook, for the moment, the reality that equality is myth. When the State uses law to level the playing field the rights of other people are always damaged.
You cannot create a “new right” for someone without taking away the natural rights of another person.
In the 1994 book The Death of Common Sense Philip Howard gave this illustration:
Handing out rights like land grants has become the preferred method of staking out a place for those who feel disadvantaged. Lawmakers and courts, confronted with evidence of past abuses, scramble over each other to define and take credit for handing out new rights. When refused entry to a movie because his two-year-old son might disturb the other patrons, Rolando Acosta, then deputy commissioner of New York City’s Human Rights Commission, had an easy fix; the commission ruled that banning children was age discrimination.” (p.117)
In creating a new right for Mr. Acosta and his two-year-old son two groups of people had their rights violated.
The first group were the movie goers. These people have the right to peacefully assemble and watch a movie without the distraction of young children. As a father of a almost 4-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 3-month-old I know how distracting small children can be.
The other group, or person, that had their rights violated was the theater owner. Because he or she owns the theater, they have the right to decide who will be able to use their property. If the theater owner believes that they are providing the public with a valuable service of a child free movie watching experience, it is their right to create such a business.
While this example seems to be such a small thing that happened twenty-years ago, it is the type of incident that we need to be aware of and speak out against.
We need to speak out about such things because:
- The implication of such decisions is that the State determines the individual rights that we have. That is not the case. Rights are tied to our existence as people. From my perspective as a Christian, these rights are gifts from God and allow us to pursue the life He created us to live. If the State ultimately decides what is or is not a right, then philosophically we are saying our rights come from the State. Whatever liberty we enjoy is a gift from the government.
- Cases like this form the foundation of bigger cases. This case from the 1990s is one of a many different cases that provide the groundwork for the bigger issues we a facing today like Christian bakers being forced to bake wedding cakes for same sex weddings and transgender people using the restroom of their identification. You don’t have the right to a wedding cake and you don’t have a right to use public restrooms. Bakers do have the right to decide who they want to bake cakes for and property owners have the right to determine who will use their restrooms.
As horrible as it sounds, you have the right to discriminate.
We may not look at it as discrimination, but we discriminate every day. We do it when we decide what stores to shop in, the friends we spend time with, who to hire for a job, and what TV shows to watch.
It is true we can petition the government to force a person to do something for us that they do not want to do. But think about this: If we had the State enact a law on our behalf against another person, would that law change how the person felt about us?
Ultimately law doesn’t change what people believe, rather it uses force to get people to behave in a certain way.
Whenever a right is “created” the natural rights of another person are always violated. This is one of the reasons why we have lost our liberty in the United States. We have held up “rights” that are not truly rights and have trampled the natural rights that are ours as free people.
These rights are worth fighting for.