Sunday, 14 October 2012

What rights do you really have

I rapidly get tired of people saying that people of faith have a right to their beliefs when engaging in religious debates online.

Really? Putting aside the assumption that a social courtesy constitutes a right... If someone thought something that you disagreed with and made decision in society that you share with them (such as selecting political choices) does they right to internal beliefs demand that you not present alternative views?

I dont think so, if it did there would be no political or social debate and the men that knock on my door to ask me if I've heard the good news would have been arrested long ago.

A right is an entitlement, opportunity, freedom, or resource granted to an individual by a group.

But what happens when rights conflict? If two people have the right to a particular resource that can only be used once then is one persons right being denied by the other person? Or was the right only for the opportunity of use of the resource, not (as people may infer) exclusive use of the resource.

Many rights can be distinguished in this way, when people say they have a right to believe what they want, they actually mean they have the opportunity to believe what they want, but the actual belief is not necessarily protected.

Think about it, how many laws are in place to prevent me from challenging your belief by presenting a counter perspective? In fact most societies have specific laws protecting my right to express my points of view.

I mentioned socially courtesy earlier, because I do respect the beliefs of others, this blog for instance is separate from my other online activities in order to avoid offending people who do not wish to discuss these topics.

However, someone who enters into a debate online has waved any such respect, they dont get to go a few rounds and then simply say "well I have a right to my beliefs" before leaving. This is dishonest and intellectually bankrupt. A simple case of "I'm going to attack your position under the guise of open debate but deny your right of reply".

And given that arguments can be made against actions performed under the flag of religious practices, it can be argued that presenting alternative points of view to people thus engaged is a moral imperative.

People dont really have a right to believe, people get a right to not be persecuted for their beliefs, but all rights of freedom and speech are in place to support the exchange if ideas and people who do not wish to hear conflicting ideas have only one choice open to them - Stay out of the debate.

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