Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Wrongly Named "Human Rights Campaign" in Arkansas

Here is a link to the website of the so-called "Human Rights Campaign" which has been waging a war against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Arkansas.

What are the human rights that the HRCampaign is hell-bent to protect (or enforce)?  Exactly what they are is not at all clear from their website.  For sure, one of the human rights is not a right against the government such that the government cannot "substantially burden" a person's religious beliefs unless the government is pursuing a "compelling government interest" and does so in a way that is "narrowly tailored," or pursues the "least restrictive means" to accomplish the task of fulfilling the government interest.  Nor is it the right to private property.

A human right is a species of a moral right.  A human right is not a legal right.  One might have a human right to life even if there are no laws in one's sorry government  on the books for a time protecting such a right (a government, say, run by certain utilitarians. Perhaps it protects such right de facto but not de jure).  Or if that example does not suit you, substitute another human right that the government fails to legally afford one by governmental means.

A human right is a right that all humans have.  A right to receive a social security check might be a legal right.  It might also be a moral right (say, if the government promises to give you one by an act of legislation), but it is not a right that all humans have.  It is not even a right that all U.S. citizens have.  It is only a right for those sixty-five and older.

One of the alleged rights that the HRCampaign appears to be trying to uphold is a right to be made a cake for a gay-wedding.  But this certainly is not a human right, since, for one, not all humans are gay.  Is the relevant right a right to have a baker bake you a cake?  That cannot be a human right either, for some small societies have no bakers.  First note, that an alleged right to have a baker bake you a cake is a positive claim right, not a negative right.  A negative claim right is  a right against your doing something to me.  (Most moral rights are negative rights).  A positive claim right is a right to your doing something for me.  But in the absence of bakers there is no positive right to the baker's services because there are no bakers.

Is the human right a right to having-a-cake-baked-for-you-by-a-baker-if-there-were-bakers?  If that is the case, then it would seem that all moral rights are human rights, since similar conditional clause could be added to almost any right.

I suggest that human rights are basic rights which are not expressible in the gerrymandered way above which I have placed in bold.  If that is correct, then what is or are the relevant human rights which the HRCampaign is promoting?

Is it a human right to respect?  In the baker-type court cases there is no evidence that any of the gay couples were not afforded the basic respect that comes from being a human.  None were treated as if they were not human beings.

What then?

A right to have a business treat one like everyone else?  But businesses do not treat everyone the same.  Businesses justly discriminate against thieves who want to steal their goods, liquor stores discriminate against people who look young and do not have proper identification, and so on and so forth.

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