Right to life. Right to choice. Right to vote. Right to freedom of speech. Right of access to birth control. Right to not be stabbed in the middle of the night.
Can we stop this? Seriously, can we? When people try to argue that we should all be able to vote, because it’s a universal human right, it pisses me off. The idea of a “right” independent of a government is entirely incoherent. It means literally nothing. I can say I have the right to not be stabbed in the eye, and someone can still come up and stab me in the eye.
If rights have any meaning as anything at all, it is in the context of a government or other organized body of people. If they have any meaning at all, it is as elements of an organizational mission statement, and nothing more. We, as a country, think that society works better when we consider everyone to have the right to vote. Because we, as a country, want our society to work well, we try to make decisions that enable everyone to vote. However, the idea that the universe contains some mystical universal right to suffrage that our decision to support universal suffrage is based on makes zero sense.
I want everyone to be able to vote, not because of some magical “right” endowed by…whatever. I want universal suffrage because I want the world to be a better place, and I think it will help. It’s the same reason I want everyone to have access to food, water, shelter, birth control, etc. I want people to stop saying “X is a universal right” as a justification for X, and start saying, “X will make our society better, and here’s why”. Justifying anything by calling it a “universal human right” makes no sense, and it muddles the actual reasons why we ought to be doing things—reasons which ought to be (and much of the time are) fully capable of standing on their own merits.