(My Clovis News Journal column for February 21, 2014. This was my "emergency backup column" which I whipped out after my original column for today was rejected. You can read that one here: link.)Often when I hear people speak of "rights" they seem to be saying rights are something others are required to respect. Or even give them.
The truth is rights are something you need to assert. They are nothing if you don't defend them from all threats.
A right is something you don't need to ask permission, from anyone, to do. It is the opposite of a privilege.
Rights don't come from other people, nor from groups of other people or from any documents. They come from your existence. To prove you have every single human right that has every existed in anyone, anywhere, at any time, you only need to show up. You don't have to prove your identity or your citizenship or that you are "law abiding" (whatever that might mean now).
Every right is simply about not having something done to you.
The so-called "positive rights" all seek to enslave someone else for your benefit. This makes them contradictory, since in this case your "right" would violate someone else's right. No one is obligated to give you health care, or a job, or food, or a place to live, or a gun. But no one has the right to prevent you from providing those things for yourself as long as you don't violate some other person's equal and identical rights by attacking, stealing, or trespassing on private property.
The core nature of rights is the reason why the War on Politically Incorrect Drugs can never be a moral cause, and why anti-gun "laws" are never legitimate.
Some libertarians believe that rights don't really exist- they are a mental construct without basis in reality. If that's the case, then no one could have a right to tell others how to live or otherwise try to control another's life, which brings us full circle, so I'd be OK with that. If it were true.
But how far do rights go?
You have the fundamental human right to do absolutely anything that doesn't violate any other person or their property. No matter how badly it offends someone else, as there is no "right to not be offended". Any "law" that seeks to prevent you from living fully, within your rights, is a counterfeit "law": it may look like a real law, it may use legal language, it might even be enforced and upheld, but it lacks a legitimate foundation and is therefore completely unethical. Don't be caught advocating or defending counterfeit "laws". Instead, spend your energy defending rights.