"If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then
mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one - if he had the
power - would be justified in silencing mankind."
- John Stuart Mill
By R. Lee Wrights
(June 12) - It is popular and expedient in politics to champion taxpayer
rights, state's rights, patient rights, gay rights, people-with-disabilities
rights, even animal rights. Name any group, or make one up, and undoubtedly
someone will advocate for that group's "rights." The problem is - there is no such thing as
"group rights." Group rights are an illusion conjured up by
politicians and special interests to increase their influence and power.
The simple, basic truth is that all
rights belong to the individual. You are born with your rights and no power on
earth can take them away from you. You cannot give your rights away. They end only when you die, and not a split-second
sooner. Individual rights cannot be divided or multiplied; and, individual
rights are superior to any other claimed rights.
Individual rights mean you can adopt whatever culture you want and live any
lifestyle you choose to live. We have the individual right to worship or not
worship whatever god we want without interference from anyone else, so long as
we do not interfere with the rights of other individuals to do the same. It is
the fundamental and universal concept recognized by our nation's Founders. As a
result of this recognition, the superiority of individual rights became the
foundation of the United
The view that our rights are granted
to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is equally incorrect and
dangerous. As important and eloquently written as these two documents are, they
grant us nothing. America's
founding documents merely recognized, and seek to guarantee the recognition, of
the individual human rights shared by all of mankind. The
Bill of Rights does not declare human rights are valid from a set date forward.
The Bill of Rights is a proclamation
to the world of something that has always been… the sanctity, superiority
and supremacy of individual human rights. The
Constitution is to serve as a warrantee of those rights, not a grant of
privilege that allows us to embrace and enjoy them.
Individual rights are the
"self-evident truths" Thomas
Jefferson wrote about when he penned the words in the Declaration of
Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness." He was not expressing any new ideas
or concepts. He was telling people something that had always been. Individuals
have rights by birth that cannot be given or taken away.
Two people, 200 people, 2 million
people, even the world's populations combined do not have more rights than one
person. There are no such things as
"state's rights," there are only human rights possessed by people
individually from birth. A "state" may have more influence, more
power, and theoretically, a greater ability to protect individual rights. There is certainly strength in numbers, as they say.
Labor unions have proven that numbers mean power in politics. But no group of
individuals has more rights than any one individual, nor do groups acquire
special rights by being organized.
Power and rights are simply not the same thing. The
individual right to freedom of association allows people to band together to
protect their individual rights. Such associations can become agencies designed
to control, limit, restrict or even abolish the individual rights of people who
don't belong to that group. However, even if they are successful, any law that
suppresses the rights of individuals can be nullified by the people.
wrote, "...law is often but the tyrant's will and always so when it
violates the rights of the individual." It makes no difference if that
tyrant is a single person or a group of people united under common cause. The rights of the many are never greater, can never
be greater, than the rights of the few, or even the one. If we accept the
illusion of group rights, we also accept the legitimacy of tyranny. That is why when it comes to human rights, no number
is greater than one. R. Lee Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political
activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the
Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop
all war. To that end he has pledged
that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot
access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states. Wrights
is a lifetime member of the Libertarian
co-founder and editor of of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem,
N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.