What makes something a right as opposed to a privilege?
Edited at bottom.
I’ve been thinking about the essential difference between a right and a privilege for awhile and can’t seem to pinpoint an answer. The two words arise often during election seasons, which we are between at the moment, so maybe this is a good time to talk about it without heated rhetoric.
What Makes a Right a Right?
Rather than answers, I have questions.
- What is the source of a right?
- Is a right what one needs to live?
- In the list of rights we commonly hear cited (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, those outlined in the Bill of Rights, civil rights, right to life, right to die, right to work, right to this or that) is there a ranking among them — are some more fundamental than the others?
- Is a right if, to provide it for one person, another must supply it?
- My teenagers argue they should have a right to unfettered access to the cell phones they bought and the service they pay more than 50% for. Is that a right? If not, under what conditions would it become a right?
- Is there an objectively right answer to this, or as one commenter says below, are rights in the eye of the beholder?
What do you think is the difference between a right and a privilege?
Edited to add: A commenter sent in this link from Cornell Law School. Excerpt:
Fundamental rights are a group of rights that have been recognized by the Supreme Court as requiring a high degree of protection from government encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in the Constitution (especially in the Bill of Rights), or have been found under Due Process. Laws encroaching on a fundamental right generally must pass strict scrutiny to be upheld as constitutional.
Non-Exhaustive List of Fundamental Rights
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.