I lamented about living in a postliterate society when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips. Nobody read the fucking article so they decided that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious rights when it actually ruled in regards to procedural shenanigans. The American Institute for Economic Research has a good summary of what the ruling entails:
Reading this case literally, we can conclude the following. If you want to exercise property rights and behave as if you are free, according to the Supreme Court, you need to get religion right away and hope that the bureaucrats adjudicating your case put you down as a monster for that very reason. Then you can narrowly escape prosecution.
Otherwise you must comply. If you take the majority opinion on face value, had the deliberations in Colorado been undertaken with no invidious discrimination against the faith of the baker, the decision would have gone the other way.
In other words, you don’t have any rights.
I’ve discussed this matter before but it’s worth repeating. Questions regarding rights, such as whether or not you have the right to refuse to provide a good or service due to your personal religious convictions, are pointless. Why? To pull out one of my favorite George Carlin quotes, “Folks I hate to spoil your fun, but there’s no such thing as rights. They’re imaginary. We made them up. Like the boogie man. Like Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, Mother Goose, shit like that. Rights are an idea. They’re just imaginary.”
You can claim that you have the right to freely express yourself or the right to own firearms or the right to not incriminate yourself but you only actually have those rights if you can exercise them. Consider Jack Phillips’s case. He believed that he had the right to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage because his religious beliefs are at odds with such a union. When he tried to exercise his perceived right, government goons came down on him. Even after his Supreme Court victory, he doesn’t have the right to refuse to bake cakes for same-sex weddings because he failed to convince the Supreme Court, and by extent the various levels of government in the United States, that he had such a right. When (and it will be a matter of when, not if, because it’s human nature to push boundaries) another same-sex couple comes into his bakery wanting a cake for their wedding and he refuses, he’ll find himself in court all over again.
You only have the rights you can take and hold. How you take and hold them is irrelevant. If you are able to convince a group to respect your perceived rights, then you have taken and held those rights. If you have enough firepower at hand to scare people away from infringing on your perceived rights, then you have taken and held those rights. But if you can’t take and hold them, even if they’re written down on a fancy piece of paper, they don’t exist.
2 thoughts on “You Have Only the Rights You Can Take and Hold”
A valid practical point, certainly, but you appear to be dismissing as completely irrelevant any discussion of rights as they should be applied, as opposed to how they are or are not applied in society X on date Y. What people fight to take should be backed by a solid theoretical foundation, or else we’re just mobs of thieves.
Most mobs of thieves have an extensive theoretical foundation. Look at the amount of theory written about the United States government alone. Karl Marx wrote an extensive theory about why mobs of thieves are moral and righteous.
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