Saturday, September 15, 2007

"I Have the Right to a Toilet."

How many times have you heard someone say "I have the right to..."? Despite the fact that it impinges on someone else's rights?

Pedestrians who cross the street sometimes step in front of a moving vehicle, just because they have the right of way. As if they were thinking "I have the right of way, it gives me the right to step in front of your car, and make you wait 15 seconds while I take my sweet time ambling across the road". Never mind that they expect your car to defy the laws of physics and stop in time; never mind that the laws of physics trump human laws every time.

New York City tried to install coin-operated toilets on the sidewalks to address the odor you often smell around the city. However, a disabled-group activist sued the city to force them to use large, wheelchair accessible toilets. You see, the "physically challenged", have the "right" to be "treated like normal people". NYC ran a trial, using both types of toilets. They found that the regular toilets were heavily used, while the wheelchair friendly toilets were barely used; they were much more expensive, would be out of the City's budget, as they could not charge a fee to help it pay for itself. In court, the city tried to make their case. In the end, neither the court nor the wheelchair activist budged, and the city then decided not to install any toilets at all. I don't see the score as "disabled people 1, regular people 0", rather, it's "0-0" Would it really be a "point against the disabled", if he had let the city install regular toilets? toilets? Why does he think that life is a zero sum game? That if the "other side gets ahead" it means "I lost"?

The wheelchair activist felt he exercised his group's rights. I will turn it around and ask.. "What about the 'right' of normal people to have a city that doesn't smell of urine? What about the 'right' of normal people to have toilets around"?

This horror story, and many more, are chronicled in the book "The Death of Common Sense". Author Philip K. Howard discusses how Group Rights came about:

The last section of Howard's book explores the "rights revolution," where government has become "like your rich uncle under your personal control" and everyone now gets to be a part of a legally-mandated, discriminated-against minority. As rights weaken the lines of authority in our society, the walls of responsibility - such as how a teacher manages a classroom - have begun to crumble. We want government to solve social ills, but distrust it to do so. Congress has resolved this dilemma by using rights to transfer governmental powers to special interest groups. The result has not been bringing excluded groups into society, but rather has become the means of getting ahead in society. Howard makes the distinction that, "The rights that are the foundation of this country are rights against law. In James Madison's words, the Constitution provides for 'protection of individual rights against all government encroachments, particularly by the legislature.' Rights - freedom of speech, property rights, freedom of association - were to be the antidote against any new law that impinged on those freedoms."

In this way, Howard finds that we have confused power with freedom. These new legislative rights aren't rights at all, no matter how righteous they sound. "They are blunt powers masquerading under the name of rights." He says we need to consider how these new rights impinge on what others consider to be their own freedoms. The flip side of the coinage of the new rights regime is called coercion.

In the paper recently, I read about a Black comedian who came up with a comedy routine along the lines of "What it means to be Black". This was a result of some other Black celebrity or writer accusing him of "not being a real Black", because the comedian had said in an interview that he didn't like rap music nor "large SUV's with chrome rims".

Like the comedian, I find the accusation laughable. It however, is a symptom of a society that likes to label or box people.

Am I [insert race here], or a [insert profession here], or [insert sexual orientation here], or [Liberal/Conservative], or [Republican/Democrat] ? I find the question "Are you a Republican or a Democrat" the most absurd of all.

I personally like to make friends, and identify with, people that share the same interests and hobbies as me, and have the same mindset and attitude.

Ayn Rand has said that the smallest minority is the individual. The Constitution guarantees the individual's rights to "Life, Liberty". Nothing about conferring additional, or new rights, to groups or subgroups.

Ron Paul has said,
"Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called "diversity" actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist."


"All initiation of force is a violation of someone else's rights, whether initiated by an individual or the state, for the benefit of an individual or group of individuals, even if it's supposed to be for the benefit of another individual or group of individuals."

The Constitution protects the individual's rights to "Life, liberty", and "the pursuit of happiness". The latter, as long as it doesn't impinge on others' rights to life and liberty. And arguably, the right to enjoy the fruits of one's labor (e.g. wages with no taxation). It does NOT give the individual the right to a job, a home, a car, health care, nor a toilet if one is "physically challenged".


Anonymous said...

I like the racist = collectivist theme.But from a purely genetic point of view, is it not true that people from within particular racial, and or social or geographic groups display some form of collective trait (it could be greed, generosity, kindness or whatever)?

People who have lived in small geographically 'isolated' areas have similar attitudes.

redpillguy said...

I have not read any research that talks about certain collective traits being genetic or racial. At this point I believe tendency toward traits are CULTURAL.

For example, people who grow up in very poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods, have the "Pie is not big enough" mentality and tend to become criminals themselves.

See my post

If one has had the experience of meeting several [insert group here] people who all were [insert trait here], then one cannot be faulted for assuming when meeting new people of the same group, that there is a good chance that the person is [trait]. That in my mind is not racism. Some may call it stereotyping.

However, if one then over extrapolates that and assumes that all members of the [group] are [trait], rather than giving the person that they meet for the first time the benefit of the doubt, that in my mind is racism. (And illogical) The worst kind obviously is when it becomes hatred. Hatred at certain minorities, again comes from the belief that "The Pie isn't Big Enough". e.g. "these immigrants are taking our jobs".

Remember, the smallest minority is the individual. We are all individuals.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you are getting at in this post, but I have to take an exception to something you wrote:

"The Constitution gives the individual the right to..."

The Constitution does not give rights. It is designed to protect rights. Our rights existed prior to the Constitution. The are inherent to be human. Some people say they come form God. Governments and constitutions are not the source of rights. People in Zimbabwe and China have the same rights as your or I. Just because their governments don't recognize it doesn't change the fact.

redpillguy said...

Agreed. "Protects rights" is a more accurate phrase.

Scoots said...

I have a story for you. My brother and I were at a movie several years ago (Falling Down) and during the long opening scene when there is no dialog we could hear someone narrating everything on the screen right behind us (we were in the front row) "It's a traffic jam. It's a hot day. Michael Douglas has a buzz cut and is sweating in his car. There is a schoolbus of kids making noise." and so on. My brother, always one to nip such behavior in the bud, stood up, turned around and said "DO YOU MIND NOT TALKING DURING THE MOVIE" to which he recieved the following stunning replay "HEY, JUST BECAUSE WE'RE BLIND DOESN'T MEAN WE DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE A MOVIE!" To which my brother replied "YOU ARE BLIND. YOU CAN'T SEEEEEE A MOVIE" He got applause and the blind people left.