As I see it there are two basic sets of “rights”, human (also known as universal) rights and, in our country, constitutional rights. Please be aware that this is a very lengthy post and you may want to skim past some of the information in paragraphs three and six, then refer back to them as you start to get the gist of my meaning.
There was not really a widespread or “global” concept of basic, all-encompassing, “human” rights before 1948. That is when the United Nations created the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, which the member nations agreed to in Paris that year.
This document has thirty “articles” which lay out the specific rights and the application thereof. They are briefly described as follows; 1) All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights, 2) Everyone is entitled to the rights set forth in the Declaration, 3) Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person, 4) No one shall be held in slavery or servitude, 5) No one shall be subjected to torture, cruel or inhumane punishment, 6) Everyone has a right to recognition as a person under the law, 7) All are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection under the law, 8) Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law, 9) No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. 10) Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. 11) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, 12) No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, 13) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country, 14) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution, 15) Everyone has the right to a nationality, 16) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family, marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses and the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State, 17) Everyone has the right to own property and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property, 18) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, 19) Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, 20) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and no one may be compelled to belong to an association, 21) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives, everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country and the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government, 22) Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality, 23) Everyone has the right to work, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work and everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests, 24) Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours, 25) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control and motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection (emphasis added), 26) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory, 27) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits, 28) Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized, 29) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations and 30) Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Remember I said “briefly”, in relation the list above, so I paraphrased some of the document and took what I believed was the important verbiage from other sections to create the list. I felt it was important to give a complete overview of what knowledgeable people are going to use when they refer to “Human Rights”. Though many who claim to know about these rights probably have never read the document or even know where the term “Human Rights” comes from.
Below are our rights as stipulated in the United States constitution;
Constitutionally enumerated rights:
1) writ of habeas corpus (to ensure valid detention if accused of a crime), 2) no bill of attainder (guarantee of right to a trial), 3) no duties or taxes on transporting goods from one state to another, 4) jury trials, 5) freedom of religion, speech, press (which includes all media), assembly and petition, 6) the right of people to keep and bear arms, 7) no quartering of troops in homes without permission of the owner, 8) no unreasonable search and seizure, 9) major crimes require indictment, no double jeopardy (more than one prosecution), for the same crime, no self-incrimination, right to due process, right to just compensation taken by eminent domain, 10) in criminal law, right to a speedy trial, to confront witnesses against one, and to counsel, 11) trial by jury, 12) right to bail, no excessive fines and no cruel and unusual punishment, 13) unenumerated rights are reserved to the people, 14) equal protection under the laws, 15) no racial bars to voting, 16) no sex bars to voting, 17) no poll tax.
The first thing you notice is that the list of constitutional rights is much shorter (just over half as many), and many are duplicates of the “universal” list. I attribute part of this to the different eras from which the two documents were drafted. As humankind advances we feel the need to become more legalistic and parse words more, hence the need for more detailed verbiage in our legal documents. If you were to read both documents in their entirety you would also notice that not just the wording of our constitution is simpler but the concepts are kept simple so the regular citizen can easily make sense of them.
In our constitutional rights there is no provision for things that are now deemed as being “rights” by the Liberal legislators and groups that “defend the less fortunate”. Things like “welfare”, “universal health care”, “free college”, “gay marriage”, “LGBT” status, etc. All of these items are just from people wanting someone else to support them so they don’t have to do it themselves.
Many people see these as “Human Rights” and use the Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (#13 on my list) and Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the basis to warrant such notions. Since the Ninth Amendment states that
“Unenmurated rights are left to the people”, the liberals have taken that to mean that rights in the UN document fall into the unenumerated category. Most of the things I have pointed out can be found in Article 25 of this document and if not specifically in article 25, then in other parts of the document. In my view these are not “rights” under our constitution, but rather “expectations” that the leftist minority in this country are trying to foster upon the common majority in this country. They have been repeatedly unable to do it legislatively, so they have worked for decades to do it culturally. Through indoctrination in the education system and criminal justice system (prisons in particular) and the media (including television and cinema).
If Average Red Blooded American Citizens are to be able to protect against this destructive trend we must become educated as to what our elected officials stand for and what candidates for office uphold as their values and elect those with strong moral stances who will pass legislation to preserve our way of life.
I personally believe that our founding fathers had the right idea, keep it simple. Don’t be legalistic, understand basic morals and common sense behavior.