Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Right to Contraception

Contributed by Pierce Giboney

Doublespeak - language that deliberately (or ignorantly) disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.

The latest example - I have a "right" to "free" contraception.

To pronounce that you have a right to the goods and services of others is a grave distortion of what it means to have rights.  To carelessly proclaim a personal desire for a “right” cheapens what it means to have rights and threatens to undermine the rights we actually do have.  To believe this distortion is to believe that rights are derived from law - from power.  To believe this distortion is to not believe in rights at all.  To understand the danger of the premise – rights are derived from laws – we need only follow it to its logical conclusions.
"Life, faculties, production—in other words; individuality, liberty, property (rights)—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts precede all human legislation and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." – Frederic Bastiat - The Law
The rule of law, in its proper form, gives sanction to the use of force to protect individual lives, liberties, and property – our rights.  In its increasingly common and most perverted form, the “rule” of law gives sanction to the powerful to use force to protect their own interests.  Unfortunately, the proper form of law over time gradually devolves into its perverted form.  And this is the danger with the premise that rights are derived from law – A man or woman can only have rights so long as their form of government has lawmakers willing to pass legislation to grant those rights.  The fatal flaw in this thinking is most easily demonstrated under a totalitarian system of government.  If this premise is true, the unfortunate individuals living under the boot of a dictator would have no grounds to claim that their rights were being violated.  They may suffer, they may be oppressed, but their rights as human beings could not be violated as the dictator has not enacted laws to grant them rights. 

Put in its simplest terms – the premise that rights are derived from laws implies that the absence of laws is the absence of rights.  Ask yourself these questions: Did the oppressed minorities suffering under slavery and segregation only gain rights when the laws that made these institutions legal were overturned?  Or did they always have rights which were ignored and subverted by the perversion of law?

There is also the premise that rights are derived from the individual but a legislator can add to those rights.  But this idea contradicts itself.  The power to grant rights is the power to take them away.  If the legislator can add or take away rights, then they cannot be derived from the individual because rights by definition are inalienable - they cannot be taken away.  If they cannot be taken away, then a "right" granted by a legislator is either legalizing and protecting the rights you already have, or the legislator is (either from ignorance or purposefully) conflating a "right" with an entitlement.  He may pass laws in an attempt to limit or prevent you from exercising your rights, but your rights, if they are truly rights, can never be taken away – only violated.

Rights then must exist independent of laws and legislators. Rights; to be universal, to be inalienable, to have any meaning at all, can only be derived from the individual.   Being derived solely from the individual it follows that a right cannot be dependent on another entity to be a right - else the right would be derived from that entity thus becoming alienable.  Stated differently, if A’s “right” cannot exist without B’s sanction, then A’s “right” cannot be a right as A’s “right” would cease to exist if B withdrew his sanction.

Which means this: Contraception (healthcare, welfare, housing, food, etc…), if the individual cannot produce it on his/her own, cannot be a "right" because the supposed "right" ceases to exist the moment the third party refuses to produce the product.  The supposed “right” would be at the mercy of the producer, or the legislator if the producer could not be convinced to give away his product for free, thereby contradicting and destroying the concept of inalienable rights .

And what of the rights destroyed to acquire this “right”?  This fallacious “right” can only exist by using the force of government to destroy the rights of others.  If a man produces a painting, he owns the painting; it is his right to keep, sell, or give away the painting.  Should his neighbor claim a right to the painting and take it by force, he has violated the painter’s rights and would appropriately be labeled a criminal.  Would the painter’s rights be any less violated should the neighbor successfully lobby legislators and use the force of government to seize the painting?  No. We have a right to procure contraception, computers, automobiles, etc…We do not have a right to use force to seize them.

To claim a “right” that destroys the rights of others, that can only exist but for the use of force, is to use doublespeak.  It is (ignorantly or deliberately) distorting and destroying the precious meaning of the word “rights”.  Those who speak this way ignorantly are ceding their sovereignty to legislators and jeopardizing their true rights to gain a false one.  Those who speak this way deliberately are willing to trade the rights of others to secure a place at the government trough.  They also risk losing it all.

But there is another way: A better way - a way our needs can be met without trampling over each other’s rights - a way of liberty.   We can start by asking the right questions and that question is not, “I can’t afford ‘X’ so how can I force the producer of ‘X’ to provide it for me?”  The right question should more appropriately be, “Why is it I can afford a cell phone, an automobile, air conditioning and a computer; all products once prohibitively expensive to all but the wealthy, but I cannot afford healthcare?”  Then ask yourself which of those industries is the most heavily regulated, requires the most licensing and has the most lobbyists.  To answer the second question is to answer the first.

But so long as we are willing to use violence to destroy each other’s rights and liberties, so long as we are willing to increasingly place our freedoms and lives into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, then let us at least not twist the meaning of words.  Let us speak honestly and clearly about what it is we want and the lengths we are prepared to satisfy those wants.  In the case of contraception, a correct statement would be thus: “I want contraception, I want someone else to pay for it and I'm willing to use force to make that happen.”
"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." – Frederic Bastiat

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