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On Rights

A rant about rights.

Rights. Rights aren’t something you earn they are something you have. Or, at least, they ought to be. And they should be broad. If you don’t have rights, you have wrongs.

Pastor Martin Niemoller said

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

He understood, if only too late, that rights do not, indeed they cannot be specific to one group. Black rights, gay rights, Women’s rights: They are your rights and my rights. And those who would infringe on the rights of one group will, one day, come for you. To say otherwise is akin to being in a boat with a hole and telling another passenger “Your side of the boat is leaking”.

John Donne said

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Indeed it does. And the bell that tolls for your rights may one day toll for your death. Because the mobs are there; the bigots are there; the people who would claim your rights are there. And there is only one protection: To protect us all.

Black rights = gay rights = women’s rights = your rights = my rights = human rights.

Equal rights for all humans. Because we’re all human.

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