Rights are Always Non-Contradictory, and You Do Not have a Choice in the Matter

TDL reader Shawn is confused when it comes to what a right is.

In one example he writes,

If the government’s only responsibility is to protect their citizens lives, property, and liberty – how does this NOT effect their responsibility to EDUCATE their citizens on health. When not doing so could KILL these citizens.

His basic premise is that since you have a right to your life, you subsequently have a right to be educated on XYZ topics, because a lack of education on those topics could result in death. In this particular case, Shawn is fixated on valid health and dietary knowledge. He is convinced that it is government’s responsibility to provide this, potentially life-saving knowledge, and if they don’t educate you, they are violating your rights.

This is of course logically absurd on every level you care to examine the basic premise.

The most easily observable is that if you had a right to knowledge, how could it be limited to just one area of life? That right would have to encompass every area of human life that were potentially life threatening. You would not only have a “right” to proper education on nutrition and exercise, you would also have a right to every other area of knowledge.

It would be government’s job to educate you on matters of self-defense, child birth, driving a car, eating and chewing properly (choking can kill you), safe sexual practices, hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, sleeping, heavy lifting, and anything else imaginable that could result in serious bodily injury, decreased quality of life, or death.

By this logic, if you were uneducated on matters of self-defense, and were mugged in a dark alley, you could sue “government” for not educating you properly on how to defend yourself from physical attack. You could sue government for losing your job because you were late to work too many times in a row (from a lack of knowledge in how to sleep properly).

And on, and on. This is all logically incoherent to the point that it is laughable.

What’s more, rights are always non-contradictory. If you claim a “right” that violates someone else’s rights, it ceases to be a right. This is like claiming the “right to freedom of speech”, and suing me for not allowing you to post on my private website.

It’s inconsistent enough for a 5 year old to understand.

In matters of “education”, a “right” to any form of education would entail someone else providing it, or someone else’s property providing for it, which would necessarily violate another persons’s right to their own life, the right to live it as they see best fit, and the right to own and dispose of their own property.

Bottom line: no one has a claim over any one else’s life.

I am not a slave. You are not my slave. Individuals operating in government are not your slave, anyone else’s slaves, or everyone’s slaves. They are free individuals just like you and I, and any claim to “service” — like education — is a complete nonsensical contradiction.

It’s so ridiculous (and dangerous) it’s worthy of harsh ridicule, just like the second bill of rights.

— Anthony Dream Johnson

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at TheDreamLounge.net and Declarationism.com.

10 Responses to Rights are Always Non-Contradictory, and You Do Not have a Choice in the Matter

  1. ben sima February 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    My first qualm with Shawn’s question would be how it is formulated. I’ll unpack it a bit:

    P1. The gov’t’s only responsibility is to protect their citizens lives, property, and liberty.
    P2. Not being educated about health could kill you.
    =======================================
    Therefore, the government should educate citizens about health.

    In regards to the second premise: There seems to be a paradox here: a lack of something intangible – ie. health knowledge – can kill you. How exactly can this kill you? Can an autopsy reveal that a lack of education killed so-and-so? Is education really the answer, then? Why not better infrastructure to ensure healthier food manufacturing? Why must you jump to education?

    Also, the conclusion is unwarranted. P1 says that the gov’t’s responsibility is to *protect* citizen’s lives, not deliver perfect health to them on a silver platter. This might warrant, say, a program in which poisons are kept out of the water supply, but certainly not instructing people on how they should choose maintain their bodies.

    Re: the bottom line – What exactly constitutes a claim over someone else’s life? Is repossession due to unpaid debts such a claim? If a fireman rescues me from being trapped in a burning building, thus saving my life, are they making such a claim? Would I immediately recognize a claim over my life if someone else tried to make one?

  2. Shawn February 21, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Hi guys.

    Anthony has totally twisted my argument.

    “His basic premise is that since you have a right to your life, you subsequently have a right to be educated on XYZ topics, because a lack of education on those topics could result in death. In this particular case, Shawn is fixated on valid health and dietary knowledge.”

    – YOUR CONCLUSION WAS MADE ON A FALSE PREMISE: in the previous discussion we had (me, you (Anthony), and Armi Legge) it was claimed that it was no person’s right to be told anything on the matter of health (obviously someone where a little bit shortsighted and totally forgot about diseases), and I merely challenged that notion. I said that contradicts essentially everything you two think a government’s role is. To protect the lives of their citizens! I am not talking about education as in sitting on the schoolbench and learning about what food you should eat (even though it wouldnt be a bad idea per se), or how to do your squats for that matter. I was and I am still talking about government’s role in distributing information to its citizens WHEN their lives would be in danger.

    This is what it boils down to:

    Why is it government’s role to protect its citizens from metal bullets, but not from biological “bullets” (viruses,bacterias and so on)? Where is the logic in that? THERE IS NONE.

    • ben sima February 21, 2012 at 9:46 am #

      honestly that doesn’t change your argument too much from what I said. Government doesn’t pass out bulletproof vests, so should they hand out vaccines and healthcare?

      Gov’t protects it’s citizens through a police/military force. The health equivalent would be, say, a clean water supply. Not direct protection from “viruses, bacterias, and so on”

      • Shawn February 23, 2012 at 3:39 am #

        Your bulletproof vests analog simply does not hold water. It only covers a certain type of threat (the biological equivalent to a bullet). Lets say influenza virus is the bullet, then the bulletproof vest would be influenza vaccine. If there was a different virus, equivalent to a bomb, you wouldnt give them influenza virus A vaccine, right? In other words: vaccines are the equivalent to a lot of different measures needed to be taken in order to protect against a lot of different threats (dirty water, bullets, bombs etc). It CAN NOT be dismissed as simply “handing out bulletproof vests”.

        The real question is, and this goes to everyone: Should gov only protect when there is a human component involved? Only against the human will and evil thoughts behind an invasion? Mother nature / biology is not to be worried about because she/it really does not have any bad intentions behind her threats so to speak?

        • ben sima February 23, 2012 at 11:19 am #

          i think your questions are kinda loaded in that they assume certain premises that I would reject.

          1. Should gov only protect when there is a human component involved?
          This is the wrong question. We are concerned with positive vs negative rights, not whether the action is man-caused or not. See section 2.1.8:

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/

          2. Only against the human will and evil thoughts behind an invasion?
          In order to allow the government to protect us from evil human will and thoughts, we must assume that the government determines what is right and wrong. I really don’t think you want to let the government determine right from wrong. The government should be protecting negative rights (and *maybe* guaranteeing positive rights), not policing the world for right and wrong.

          3. Mother nature / biology is not to be worried about because she/it really does not have any bad intentions behind her threats so to speak?
          To place any value, good or bad, on something because it is natural is to commit the naturalistic fallacy.

          • Shawn February 24, 2012 at 1:59 am #

            1) I understand what you are saying, but I challenge you to think outside the box for a moment.

            2) OK, lets assume a government who is ideal in your world. Dying by the bullet is “ok” to prevent (or maybe not after all), but by the virus is still not? You say *MAYBE* defend positive rights – Is there not some sort of hypocrisy when you defend against bullets, but not viruses? Where do you draw the line and WHY? When someone (a human being) intentionally gives me smallpox? If so, why?

            3) You missed my point. What fallacy do I commit when bullets kill? To place any value on metal bullets is also some sort of fallacy, not? Maybe we can call it the metal/unnatural fallacy? Bottom line: It is just too easy to shove my questions under the rug by claiming fallacy.

            • Ben sima February 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

              2) first: that’s an unrealistic and thus useless assumption. Second: the question isn’t about the medium, bullets vs viruses, it’s about how involved the gov is with the individuals life. If someone intentially poisons you, then they infringe on your negative right to life. Therefore that person should be punished by the gov. Same with killing by bullets.

              But the gov cannot tell you how to live life bc then the gov would be infringing on that same right to life. A mandatory education in nutrition or a mandatory diet is a perfect example of that. So is (arguably) mandatory vaccines.

              3) fallacies are part of logic. You are not above the objective laws of logic. Don’t give mother nature “intentions” – that us a category mistake bc nature is not in the realm if things that can have intentions. And the naturalistic fallacy states that even if something is natural, the question is still open as to whether that thing is good.

              • Shawn February 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

                This was never about “mother nature” and natural fallacies. I used the expression “mother nature” to underline my point about whether “human intention” was key to the discussion, or not. Now answer this please:
                – Is it right for a government to NOT tell/inform/educate their citizens on how to survive fex an epidemic? I guess your type of government could hide behind the fact that there is no infringement of the negative rights.. But does that make it right in your opinion?

                And by the way – I am not advocating mandatory education of any kind, or that the government should tell you to live your life so I totally agree with you here (dont be fooled by the initial post).

  3. Joe A February 21, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    It is not the role of government to ‘protect the lives’ of the citizenship. The responsibility is in protecting its citizen’s ‘right’ to live (freely).

    The government carrying out its responsibility of protecting my right to live ‘may’ in fact protect me from death in some instances…however, the distinction is necessary…because the intention of protecting my life (from death) can also infringe upon my right to live (freely). If the role of government was truly to “protect my life” then it would presume to have dominion over my life…which it does not.

    Now, there is an expectation that the government would act if outside forces threatened my right to live (i.e. another country attacks ours)…but war, in that case is in defense of my rights, not necessarily my life. My life may actually be spared from death…but this is a consequence (or blessing) of the action not the intention, per se. The military/police forces are not in place just to prevent you from dying, but rather as a force (a threat to any outside force) ready to defend your rights..including your right to live freely.

    Things like educating the citizens on healthy eating are based in attempting to protect the lives of the citizens…not in protecting the right to live. I see no role for government in that business…

    • ben sima February 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

      exactly, well said. Gov’t should protect negative rights, but it shouldn’t hand out positive rights which come about contractually and in a private, not public, setting.

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