Impassioned orators of all kinds sling around the noun “rights” as if it were something extremely important and about which they have a deep understanding. In 99% of such cases, the users of this word probably haven’t given its meaning much serious thought. In 99.99% of the cases (and this percentage could be even higher), the statements made are incorrect in some sense and the speakers actually do not have an in-depth understanding of this word.
In view of the visceral reactions people frequently have to statements containing the word “right,” not to mention the major decisions affecting everyone that are justified using the term, it is high time to bring some clarity to the concept. The essays below attempt to do just that.