1994-06-10 - Re: Crime and punishment in cyberspace - 3 of 3

Header Data

From: Edward Hirsch <diseased@panix.com>
To: Jim choate <ravage@bga.com>
Message Hash: 1856549e35beaf4858294e686d507b4bb11f43272f64f62e6966693247982684
Message ID: <Pine.3.87.9406100107.A4199-0100000@panix.com>
Reply To: <199406091352.IAA25911@zoom.bga.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-06-10 05:15:07 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 9 Jun 94 22:15:07 PDT

Raw message

From: Edward Hirsch <diseased@panix.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Jun 94 22:15:07 PDT
To: Jim choate <ravage@bga.com>
Subject: Re: Crime and punishment in cyberspace - 3 of 3
In-Reply-To: <199406091352.IAA25911@zoom.bga.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.87.9406100107.A4199-0100000@panix.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Thu, 9 Jun 1994, Jim choate wrote:

> > 
> > 
> > > The concept of "rights" is really only meaningful in the
> > > context of a group  of people, a society which has agreed to
> > > band together for some  purpose.  But since it can't be
> > > guaranteed that anyone would be educated on the matter of
> > > observing the delineated rights, or that having been
> > > educated they would respect them and observe limits upon 
> >
> Rights are the items of a citizens characteristic which are outside
> the ability of that government to control within its charter. Rights
> come before a government forms. If they didn't then you would not be 
> able to [draft a charter]

Well, that's one view of rights.  However, most attempts to base so 
called natural rights (i.e. rights that are somehow intrinsic to human 
existence) have been largely unsuccesful.  It's a tough argument to make.

Rights are entities that are granted to individuals by 
governments/agencies in a position to do so.  They exist only after a 
charter is drafted, because it is their existence in the charter that 
gives them their power.  The most obvious response when a right is 
asserted is to ask where it comes from, e.g. to ask "why do you have a 
right to privacy?"  An answer that makes sense is to say that it is 
implied in this country's constitution, and therefore is applicable in 
this country.  

To suggest that such a right exists independent of a legal context gets 
you into some pretty tricky territory.  You now have to make some claim 
about rights that are instrinsic to human existence, which implies that 
these rights must be common to all forms of social organization, a claim 
that is real tough to make about such "rights" as privacy and property.

A value can exist prior to a charter... I might say, "gee, I value 
privacy, and I think this value ought to be legitamized by my new 
charter," but until that charter has been accepted, the right doesn't exist.