Let’s look at Webster’s Dictionary first to see what the words mean:
Definition of Freedom:
1: the quality or state of being free: such as
a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
c: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous freedom from care
Definition of right:
2: something to which one has a just claim: such as
a: the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled voting rights his right to decide
You are free to murder anyone you want; you do not have the right to murder anyone you want. You are free to lie and commit fraud; you do not have the right to lie and commit fraud. You have the freedom to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater, but if there is no fire, you do not have the right to do so.
Those are pretty obvious examples. Let’s examine something a little more subtle. A government has the freedom to tax its citizens, and it also has the right. Now for a specific; government has the freedom to tax its citizens for the subsidization of private corporations, but the government does not have the right. Those businesses forced to pay taxes to subsidize their competitors would most certainly disagree – especially if they chose to avoid subsidies themselves.
How about a moral issue of greater magnitude. A government has the freedom to tax its citizens to pay doctors to tear up and destroy the bodies of small children (fetuses) in the womb, or in utero, or even just as it has exited. Those who do not believe in that would disagree and say it is not a “right”. The supporters of abortion would say don’t take our “right” to choice (abortion) away from us. Therein is a debate as to where rights come from and what they are. The Constitution would address that. Former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, a Democrat, said; “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
There is the rub. Just because people or governments have freedom to do things doesn’t mean there is a necessity, and particularly an absolute necessity, to exercise that freedom. If doing so steps on the rights of others, then it is not a right, but a usurpation of rights.
It is clear in America that people confuse the two terms. How many people believe there is a “right” to medical care, abortion, a home etc.? When people assume they have a right to your money and the fruit of your labors, then they are using the government as a thuggish billy club to oppress and enslave people. The Constitution declares and enumerates what people’s rights are. Give that up, and you give up everything.
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