James A. Donald: Natural Rights
Authoritarian utilitarians started by trying to transform the meaning of “good”, and they have continued to try, with some success, to change the meaning of words so as to make it impossible to express thoughts that question the legitimacy and authority of the state. They have partially succeeded with “law”, They are having some success with the word “right”. Thus in America civil rights now means almost the opposite of natural right. For example being for “gay rights” now means that you are opposed to freedom of association. Being in favor of freedom of association is now understood to mean that you are against the right of privacy. It is difficult to express the idea that the state should neither force people to accept homosexuality, nor use force to suppress homosexuality. It is now difficult to express the idea that sexuality is not the proper business of the state, that force and violence is the proper business of the state, not sin or social exclusion. This perversion of the word “rights” makes everything the business of the state, directly contrary to the normal meaning of “right”. Some people today find it very difficult to comprehend the meaning of the ninth amendment, because the language has been so perverted as to make such subversive ideas inexpressible.
If someone rejects the language of natural law, refuses to use such words, pretends not to comprehend them, and rejects them as meaningless, then he is not interested in using words as a medium of communication. He is merely using them as a method of control. It is pointless to attempt to communicate with such a person.
A right is only a right if, as with the rights to life, liberty, and property, you can rightfully use necessary and sufficient force to defend yourself against those who interfere with your exercise of that right. A right is no right at all if it is granted to you by the benevolence of your masters.