Blog: N Rights

N Rights
N Rights
Date: 2018-Mar-31 22:22:55 EST

On the topic of Women's Rights and Men's Rights and other examples of that general phrasing, I see two ways to parse that phrasing:

  • What are the rights that people in that category-or-identity have?
  • What are the rights that generally people have that are often most relevant to that category-or-identity?
In the first parsing, with rare exception, I think we should essentially redirect to general rights of people, or "what do we owe each other in society?". General notions of justice are what we should concern ourselves with, not the interests of particular groups (or people within the group who claim to speak for the group - the two are not quite the same). There are a few exceptions - statuses that we might reasonably decide change the social contract around some categories. I believe in the following exceptions:
  • Children - They have very broad and deep differences in rights from adults, most but not all relating to custody (exceptions being possibly degree of culpability and recognition that they are very easily coerced into labour or sex or similar by adults and we should stop that)
  • People who have chosen fame - They give up considerable expectations and protections, partly scalar by degree of fame and degree of choice
  • People with hereditary power - In societies that have this, we should consider them similarly to those who have chosen fame, but much moreso. It may be acceptable to violently remove them from power if they do not give up voluntarily, and that can extend to killing an entire royal family including those we would otherwise consider innocent.
  • News organisations - We may choose to protect their ability to conduct news in ways we would not protect private citizens, including not compelling them to testify about conversations. We do this because they are supposed to act as a check on government
  • Legal representation - Similar to news, because they have a structural role to play in our adversarial legal system that they could not play were they similarly vulnerable
  • Confessors - We may choose to protect the privacy of some other relations (spouses, doctors, philosophical guides) depending on specifics
On the second, one reason we insist on pulling the context of "welfare of a group" outside of the sphere of "group's rights" and into "general rights" is to ensure we don't confuse persecution of a group with deciding not to give it everything it may ask for. A group may earnestly believe they are due something particular, and we may recognise that the group has often been injured by violence or being locked out of jobs or similar. Yet we should remain comfortable telling that group "no" at any demand that we don't think is part of "what we owe each other", and comfortable not considering it part of whatever word for "bigotry against this particular group" exists.