I’ve been meaning to do this post since the question of rights came up in a recent post. It seems like everybody has a “RIGHT” to absolutely everything nowadays. Just ask them. What ever happened to the idea that rights are balanced by the responsibility to exercise them responsibly so as to not infringe upon the rights of others?
Let’s take an easy hot button issue nowadays; guns. Yes, we have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. That right is balanced by the responsibility to store that weapon safely, not wave it around threatening people, etc… Gun control laws may rub some people the wrong way but they exist to limit the right when a person can’t display the responsibility.
I could go on and on with various “rights”. Very few are legitimate rights at all. Instead of swerving off topic as I’m prone to do, I’ll simply say people would do well to remember their real and imagined rights end where others’ rights begin. Anything further there will have to wait for another post.
Getting back to rights vs responsibilities though, let’s look at the “rights” of the homeless, who were a side topic in that recent post. I’ve said in multiple posts that I have tremendous empathy for the homeless who truly want something better; to escape that life and rejoin society. They should be given whatever help they need to get back on their feet.
There’s a portion of the homeless who simply don’t want to live by society’s rules though and enjoy being “urban outdoorsmen”. This is REALLY obvious here in California. There was a quote in the Sacramento News and Review from one homeless lady saying how she refused to be “kenneled” into a shelter and demanded to know why the city couldn’t just set up free portable showers and toilets for her and others in the parking lot she was sleeping in.
First, there’s the obvious questions… What about the rights of the person or business that owns that parking lot? You have a “right” to somebody else’s property? To block parking and chase off the customers that the business depends on to be able to pay employees and pay for that same parking lot?
According to the Sacramento City Council, these same folks even have a “right” to aggressively panhandle. That means they’re free to use threats, intimidation and coercion to obtain “handouts” from regular people. If you or I do that, it’s called extortion, assault and strongarm robbery. The homeless do it though, and it’s fine. What happened to the right of the average person to be safe in their immediate surroundings?
The homeless have a “right” to camp where ever they want, defecate where ever they want, throw their garbage everywhere… THIS is the result in downtown Sacramento:
And that’s clean compared to some areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Another consequence I mentioned before was that the river here has seven times the toxic level for ecoli virus because literally hundreds of homeless people use it as a toilet and garbage dump. One guy is setting up portable toilets for the homeless along the river and thinks it’s horrible that they don’t have toilets along the river. *I* think it’s horrible that it’s been almost a decade since it’s been safe for the general public to use most of the trails and parks that run along the river.
One bit of warped humor to come out of this was during the spring thaw earlier this year (after heavy snowfall), the high river washed a god deal of garbage to the shore along “Old Sacramento” and tourists roaming the 1800s era historic area all got to see how out of control our homeless problem is. The city blamed it on global warming, I kid you not…
So yes… TONS AND TONS of imagined rights while the general public suffers for it. THAT brings us to the bigger question beyond the one the general public’s rights: How do you presume to demand rights or anything else from a society that you want no part of?
I refuse to follow your rules, I refuse to act in a civilized manner, I care nothing about your or anyone else’s safety or rights, BUT I demand you give me anything I need or want to make my life comfortable. Does anyone see the insanity in that??
The demand there is for rights with that not only infringe upon the rights of others, but also come with no sort of responsibility to society attached to them.
Fixing this rights issue with the homeless and in dozens of other issues needs to happen if society is going to survive. How do we get back to a sane, responsible balance of rights and repsonsibility though? Too much of society today views responsibility and earning anything as filthy, outdated concepts.