What is a right, and what is a privilege?


“Thanks,” he said. “This helps out a lot. And I got my job lined up!”
“No problem at all.” I answered. “Once you’re ready to buy the airline ticket, I’ll cover it.” He smiled.
“Where’re you ending up?” I asked.
“I’ll be working for the Saudi Arabian government, overseeing the oil companies there.”
“Oh,” I said. “I can’t pay for your ticket there.”
His face fell, surprised. “Why?” he asked.
Now it was my turn to be surprised. “I’m morally against their government. They subjugate women.”
He shook his head. “You know what? You’re imposing your morality on me. You’re keeping me from my livelihood.”
I was amazed. “I’m offering to help you.”
“No,” he shook his head. “you’re restricting me.”
“Do you realize,” I said, “I don’t need to give you any help at all?”

When I see a post about how businesses are restricting the reproductive rights of women, I’m alarmed that we’re sliding into Orwellian doublespeak. Saying someone is prohibiting you from doing something makes them an authority over you. And when they won’t pay you for something you want to purchase, it makes them your parents, and you a child.

Your employer is neither an authority over you or your parent. It is an organization that you have made a deal with to pay you for work. If businesses are considered authorities, then we’ve truly given up our individual freedoms to the institution, both the corporate institution as subjugating us, and government institution who we expect is the only one who can save us.

They are only words, yes, but after a time, they will change the attitude we have about our selves. And I fear that they will drive us to seek protections, which we do of course need, but if we seek them from a place of victim-hood and helplessness, it’s a protection that’s coming at great cost.

Certainly, there is a discussion to be had about why contraception is a right and should be funded by the state. Let’s have that discussion without muddling our words and confusing our identities about who we are as free and empowered people.

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