A Swing and a Miss!

The dead-horse beating continues…

John T. Kennedy of the group blog No Treason left a comment on my old post What Is a “Right”:

Is it wrong to rape?


To say it’s wrong to rape is the same as saying that one has a right to not be raped. To say you have a right to not be raped doesn’t mean you have a postive right to be protected from rape or avenged for rape by others, it just means that it is wrong to rape you.


To say you have no right is to say nothing that can be done to you is really wrong, it is to deny that there are such things as right and wrong, good and evil.

You need to read the essay to understand my argument, but it boils down to this point:

A “right” is what the majority of a society believes it is.

And I’ll illustrate John’s error right now.

Look at history. For centuries, if not millenia, rapine and pillage was the reward of conquering soldiers. To those cultures there was a right to rape. It wasn’t “wrong,” nor was it evil. It simply was. The victim had no say in the matter.

John believes in “rights” that exist outside the context of society – absolute rights that exist in all people, everywhere.  I don’t.  What is right, wrong, good and evil define and are defined by societies, and those societies rigorously enforce those definitions, or the society morphs into something else.

The idea of “rights” is a cultural one, and cultures change.  And for most of history, even right up to today, the rights one culture recognizes often do not extend to peoples of other cultures.

OUR society (and nearly all contemporary societies) believes that rape is inherently wrong, but it was not always so.  According to current news reports, rape is again being used as a weapon of war in Darfur.  The West is appalled.  But the rapists see it as their right.  Their culture tells them so.

Try again, John. 

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