Who has more rights — you or me?

We’re blessed with an abundance of rights in this country. We have a right to free speech, the right to practice any religion of our choosing, the right to voice our dissent and peacefully protest. We vote our leaders into office, participate in local government and sit on school boards.

United States Constitution
“We the People of the United States of America…”

So what do we do when our rights collide? Think about it. There’s approximately 314 million people in this country. That’s 314 million people from all over the world with vastly different opinions and preferences, tastes and traditions. The religion your family has devoutly practiced for generations is referred to as witchcraft by others. The clothes that you choose to wear are frowned upon by more conservative types. Your thoughts and beliefs are 180° from people you work with every day.

Who has more rights: you or me? You’re signing petitions to get my favorite show removed from the air. Do your rights go beyond not watching it? Do you have the right to have it removed from the air? Don’t I have the right to watch it? The music you buy offends some people. They work to have it pulled from the shelves. Your free speech is vehemently opposed by others, so they sue to have your rights rescinded. Who has more rights: the speakers or those who don’t want to listen?

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”

When I was in college, a 17-year-old went to a store in our city and bought music his dad didn’t approve of. Instead of being angry at his son, the father was incensed that music with explicit lyrics was for sale — anywhere. He started a petition, rallied friends & families and insisted that his 17-year-old son should not be tempted by this evil music. The store, an international chain, responded by pulling all explicit lyric music from its shelves. A journalist from our school paper wrote an article explaining how quickly we wouldn’t have any music left in the world following this trend. Trust me, no matter how much you love something, someone somewhere hates it.

Let your voice be heard on this important subject.

Who’s rights prevail when our rights collide?

How far do our rights go — to change the channel or have a show removed from the air?

International friends, how is this dilemma handled in your country?

I’m looking forward to your thoughts!

“Constitution of the United States and Feather Quill” by Rosie O’Beirne // CC BY 2.0 
“American President Speech” via António Costa Amaral


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Published by Jaime Shine

I love to write. While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines and newspapers – feature articles, ads, sports box scores, the whole nine yards. From promotions director to advertising roles to branding projects, I’ve always been interested in all forms of marketing. That interest blossomed into a career path and led me to open my own business, which has always been a dream of mine. And I’d love to work my magic for you. Check out my company's services, discover more about me or chime in on my blog, covering a variety of topics, at http://jaimeshine.com.

4 thoughts on “Who has more rights — you or me?

  1. Hi Jaime, You have posed a very difficult question (as if you didn’t already know that!).
    In general, we should all be able to do as we wish, unless it hurts someone else. I’d say yes to gun control, but no to censorship of the arts (TV, music, movies, visual arts). That said, I do like the idea of movie ratings. It’s up to parents to use them when deciding what movies their kids can see. In your example of the 17-year old, I don’t think the outcome was the right one; the father should have dealt with his son, and left the music store alone.


  2. It’s too bad we can’t A-B test society. I am personally in the camp that if you are offended, change the channel or look the other way, but I do understand why people, like this father, take stands. A startling example is boxing and Ultimate fighting. What good is that doing for society, other than making money? We have laws against such behaviors, but if enough people will pay money, we will sanction it a sport. Where does it stop? Where does it turn from freedom into idiocy? In the end, history will judge whether certain freedoms were detrimental to our society, much like we now view the fallen Roman Empire. Freedom and chaos are divided by a fine line whether we like it or not. But we are free to ignore that point if we want to.


    1. Great points, Lance. We have so many examples of the Coliseum today that we try to justify. Although I’m a fan of both, football is just as dangerous as UFC. And I do question what value some things bring to society. I think we get so caught up in our individual rights sometimes that we lose track of what’s good for our country or world. Thanks for your insightful comments.


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