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Individual Rights vs. Community Rights

DagrabbitDagrabbit Registered User regular
edited August 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
I was reminded of this by something that was said in the abortion thread, and was interested in getting some opinions on it.

America was certainly founded on promoting indvidual freedom. Free speech, freedom of religion, freedom to waste hours watching dumb Youtube videos. The other side of this country is promoting a stable society that protects its citizens. Often these two aspects are at odds with one another, individual rights vs. what I would call community rights.

To better define what I mean by community rights, some examples might be in order. Security restrictions at airports, traffic laws, zoning laws, import/export regulations, libel and slander laws, and more in this vein. It's effectively the second half of "My right to swing my fist ends at your face", or protecting citizens from themselves. They're laws that keep our individual rights/freedoms (I'll use the words interchangeably) from destablizing society and infringing on other people's rights/freedoms.

The political side of this is that, on social issues, I usually think of the Left as erring on the side of expanding personal freedom, and the Right defaulting to protecting community rights. Abortion, gay marriage, and legalizing drugs all increase personal freedom, while many of the causes of the right are about perserving the community and protecting the citizens.

This is a generalization, but helps to quickly dump me into the mindset of both sides of an issue. It hasn't been very rigorously tested though, so I thought it would be fun to put it through the paces on D&D.

To that end:

1. Does the distinction between individual rights and community rights really exist, and does it already have a better name that I don't know about?

2. Is there a mapping between perferring one side or the other and social political ideology?

3. What are the downfalls of straying too far in one direction? For example, the extremes would be anarchy for the first, and totalitarian dictatorship for the second, but are there more subtle effects?

4. Does a similar trend exist in economics, or is it reversed? For example, the Right loves Free Market individual power, the Left protects the community through environmental action and social programs.

I'm still putting the idea through the paces, so any discussion is welcome.

Dagrabbit on

Posts

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Among abortion, gay marriage, and drug laws, the last is the only one that could possibly be construed as protecting the community. And even in that case, it would be largely false.

  • DagrabbitDagrabbit Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    Among abortion, gay marriage, and drug laws, the last is the only one that could possibly be construed as protecting the community. And even in that case, it would be largely false.

    I've tried to focus on the more tangible aspects of the community rights side in the OP where there is a direct benefit to society through restricting personal freedom. There is certainly a moral component to that side as well that would include things such as abortion and gay marriage; the idea of building a moral society that they're happy raising children in.

    That is, depending on your point of view, a potentially negative aspect of the community rights side. I tried to focus more on the positive aspects in the OP.

  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Well, this brings up an interesting point. To a certain extent, individual liberties could be seen as a conservative value. The hijacking of American Conservatism by the Moral Majority and/or Christian right, however, has meant that in the past couple of decades, republicans have tended to side more on the "infringe personal liberties to enforce the majority moral opinion" side of things. Also the "sacrifice liberty for safety" side.

    But think about it from another angle. When you get down to it, a lot of the things Democrats in America today stand for, like gun control and universal health care, seem to limit personal freedoms.

    So basically, I think a blanket categorization fails. If anything, this is how I see things:

    In matters of morality and personal expression, Democrats are firmly in the individual rights camp, whereas Republicans are in the community rights camp. In matters of social programs or right to bear arms, the roles are reversed; now Republicans paint themselves as defenders of personal freedom and Dems as enforcers of community standards.

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  • DagrabbitDagrabbit Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    MikeMan wrote: »
    In matters of morality and personal expression, Democrats are firmly in the individual rights camp, whereas Republicans are in the community rights camp. In matters of social programs or right to bear arms, the roles are reversed; now Republicans paint themselves as defenders of personal freedom and Dems as enforcers of community standards.

    You're right, I'd forgotten about gun control; all of the individual freedoms championed by the Right I had thought of were economic. I'd actually lump health-care as an economic issue, though the lines are certainly blurred. Your distinction may be a better one to use, rather than lining along social/economic lines.

  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Well, when it comes to gun control the Dems are starting to open up the tent a bit to the more 'states rights' groups. Because, let's face it, bumfuck Wyoming has different circumstances than NYC. The only blanket truth for the Dems anymore is 'no assault weapons' and 'have a background check to make sure he isn't insane or a convict' and then it gets nuanced from there.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    moniker wrote: »
    Well, when it comes to gun control the Dems are starting to open up the tent a bit to the more 'states rights' groups. Because, let's face it, bumfuck Wyoming has different circumstances than NYC. The only blanket truth for the Dems anymore is 'no assault weapons' and 'have a background check to make sure he isn't insane or a convict' and then it gets nuanced from there.

    That change there scares the living fuck out of the NRA. Because of it, they can no longer really play the boogeyman card, and hunters are starting to realize that the NRA actually doesn't have their interests at heart - a lot of the Congresscritters the NRA love do not like the whole idea of conservation. An environmentalist-hunter coalition can really get these guys scared.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited August 2007
    I'm generally skeptical of assertions of "community rights."

    Usually because it just so happens that the alleged community rights match up exactly with whatever the person espousing them thinks should be done.

    Which is to say, it is most often just a sledgehammer to throw around and justify your opinion being more important than other people's.

  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Dems are about as guilty as the GOP. They just support other types of restrictions like censorship, political correctness and gun control.

    I usually agree with thier rationale more than the GOP's "family" values. but to pretend the Dems are champioons of individual freedom is wrong. The GOP also has a worse record of trying to hamfistedly trying to legislate thier morality than the Dems.

    "Family Values" is basically code for "We can't find a real reason to justify restricting your rights so we'll just say it's for the children"

  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I don't know about that Nex, I've seen both sides use the 'for the children' approach a fair bit.

    Angel, many if not most of the fist conservation groups were hunters. Much of the grass roots conservation movement is still made up of people trying to find a balance between being allowed to hunt and having something to hunt in 50 years.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Dagrabbit wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Among abortion, gay marriage, and drug laws, the last is the only one that could possibly be construed as protecting the community. And even in that case, it would be largely false.

    I've tried to focus on the more tangible aspects of the community rights side in the OP where there is a direct benefit to society through restricting personal freedom. There is certainly a moral component to that side as well that would include things such as abortion and gay marriage; the idea of building a moral society that they're happy raising children in.

    That is, depending on your point of view, a potentially negative aspect of the community rights side. I tried to focus more on the positive aspects in the OP.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with 'your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.' I didn't know that you meant community rights to include the right to enforce its moral precepts on minorities. I thought you meant something much more defensible, like the right of the community to interfere with individuals in order to promote the common welfare, through things like tax, public service, and regulation.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    an_alt wrote: »
    I don't know about that Nex, I've seen both sides use the 'for the children' approach a fair bit.

    Angel, many if not most of the fist conservation groups were hunters. Much of the grass roots conservation movement is still made up of people trying to find a balance between being allowed to hunt and having something to hunt in 50 years.

    This is true. But at the same time, groups like the NRA tried to drive a wedge between the two factions. The problem is that their wedge doesn't work anymore, and the hunters are realizing that the NRA was screwing them over.

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  • tdonlantdonlan Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Dagrabbit wrote: »
    I usually think of the Left as erring on the side of expanding personal freedom, and the Right defaulting to protecting community rights.

    The Left has its own share of cracking down on individual rights in favor of community "good". Here in NYC (which is pretty liberal) a number of laws have recently been passed - banning smoking in all restaurants/bars and banning trans-fats in all restaurants. There's also mandatory recycling, etc. Not that these are necessarily bad, just that they could be seen as imposing on individual rights for the sake of the common good.

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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Never said the Dems didn't use family Values as an argument for shit either. people think the Dems are the liberal party of our nation but they're really not. They're simply the less conservative of the two parties. atleast on a national scale. Some local and city governments are quite liberal but at the Congressional level you're mostly talking shades of conservative and moderate.

    anyway that's not quite OT anyway. My belief is that community rights should mean nothing more than the rights of multiple people. the common useof it by fundies and such is a form of rule. I don't think the mob should have the right to EVER trample the rights of the individual. However if you take large numbers of people's right's into consideration there is going to be some kind of group legislation. Like the rights of all the people around you not to be endangered by a deadly firearm will sometimes be more important than your right to have said firearm. Likewise with public works. Your right to your property may be outweighed by many individual's right to public transit.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Framing a debate in terms of "community rights vs individual rights" is stacking the deck in favor of libertarianism. Partly because the notion of "community rights" is often somewhat nonsensical when talking about domestic policy; but mostly because, as Shinto eloquently described, what people declare to be "community rights" tend to be suspiciously close to whatever they think is best for the community.

    Rather than the protection of discrete inalienable rights, I believe in the maximization of individual liberty. Every individual should have the ability to live his or her life in the way he or she sees fit as much as possible without putting undo restraint on other people's abilities to do the same. Sometimes this requires the absolute (or nearly absolute) protection of individual rights, as in free speech. Sometimes this requires that some individual rights be slightly curtailed, as in labor laws.

    Rephrased as a bumper sticker: Rights are the means; liberty is the end.

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  • DagrabbitDagrabbit Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    Dagrabbit wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Among abortion, gay marriage, and drug laws, the last is the only one that could possibly be construed as protecting the community. And even in that case, it would be largely false.

    I've tried to focus on the more tangible aspects of the community rights side in the OP where there is a direct benefit to society through restricting personal freedom. There is certainly a moral component to that side as well that would include things such as abortion and gay marriage; the idea of building a moral society that they're happy raising children in.

    That is, depending on your point of view, a potentially negative aspect of the community rights side. I tried to focus more on the positive aspects in the OP.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with 'your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.' I didn't know that you meant community rights to include the right to enforce its moral precepts on minorities. I thought you meant something much more defensible, like the right of the community to interfere with individuals in order to promote the common welfare, through things like tax, public service, and regulation.

    As I said, it's something I try to leave out, but as Shinto said, it's often lurking in the background. I consider what you mention to be a case of community rights taken too far.

    EDIT: To make it more clear I was talking about:
    My belief is that community rights should mean nothing more than the rights of multiple people.

    with
    the common useof it by fundies and such is a form of rule
    being a bad misappropriation of the usefulness of community rights.

    A concrete example is that I feel the safety provided by traffic laws is more valuable than my ability to do donuts in an intersection. Passing a law to protect my city from the presence of gingers because a majority in my town don't trust them is not more valuable than their freedom to live wherever they want.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Dagrabbit wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Dagrabbit wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Among abortion, gay marriage, and drug laws, the last is the only one that could possibly be construed as protecting the community. And even in that case, it would be largely false.

    I've tried to focus on the more tangible aspects of the community rights side in the OP where there is a direct benefit to society through restricting personal freedom. There is certainly a moral component to that side as well that would include things such as abortion and gay marriage; the idea of building a moral society that they're happy raising children in.

    That is, depending on your point of view, a potentially negative aspect of the community rights side. I tried to focus more on the positive aspects in the OP.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with 'your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.' I didn't know that you meant community rights to include the right to enforce its moral precepts on minorities. I thought you meant something much more defensible, like the right of the community to interfere with individuals in order to promote the common welfare, through things like tax, public service, and regulation.

    As I said, it's something I try to leave out, but as Shinto said, it's often lurking in the background. I consider what you mention to be a case of community rights taken too far.

    I'd say gay marriage bans are a pretty good example.

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  • ZalbinionZalbinion Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Here's a completely half-assed thought:

    Are "community rights" simply the democratic form of government?

    What I mean is, the community exerts its "right" to determine the rules that will govern the community in democratic decision-making bodies, and the "individual rights" counterpart is the set of individual rights enshrined in law, e.g. the US Constitution.

  • DagrabbitDagrabbit Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    One of the flaws in the OP may be that I'm defining community rights by what it isn't (individual rights) rather than what it is. For me, community rights are about protecting the safety and stability of society in tangible ways. What I'm interested in is the dichotomy of balancing these two sides and seeing how it plays out in the political arena.

    The moral aspect of community rights (passing laws to protect a community from immoral people/actions/things that are bad) is less relevant because it's a self-justifying stance that doesn't really interact with other points of view that don't share the same morality. It just keeps shouting how right it is.

  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I tend to lean on the side of individual rights, but I don't mind a bylaw that says 'no strip clubs across the street from an elementry school' even though it's a purely moral thing.

    Pony wrote:
    I think that the internet has been for years on the path to creating what is essentially an electronic Necronomicon: A collection of blasphemous unrealities so perverse that to even glimpse at its contents, if but for a moment, is to irrevocably forfeit a portion of your sanity.
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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Dagrabbit wrote: »
    One of the flaws in the OP may be that I'm defining community rights by what it isn't (individual rights) rather than what it is. For me, community rights are about protecting the safety and stability of society in tangible ways. What I'm interested in is the dichotomy of balancing these two sides and seeing how it plays out in the political arena.

    The moral aspect of community rights (passing laws to protect a community from immoral people/actions/things that are bad) is less relevant because it's a self-justifying stance that doesn't really interact with other points of view that don't share the same morality. It just keeps shouting how right it is.

    As with most things in life, there must be a balance. For instance, in my home state, we have some pretty strong field and stream access laws (basically, if your land blocks access to public land, people accessing have the right to cross your land within reason.) The idea is that public land must be accessible to the public, so the individual must make a concession. The balance is fair (people can cross your land, but must do so in a manner that least impacts you). A while back, several out of state people (including, IIRC, Tom Brokaw) tried to get the access laws changed to restrict the right of the public to cross private land blocking access. The populace was outraged, and the proposed changes died on the vine.

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