Only Places Have Rights? (Wendy McElroy)
Wednesday March 6th, 2013
Geography is a peculiar way to think about rights. But the rights that people can exercise are being increasingly defined by the square foot of earth they happen to stand on. These ‘rights’ can change in the course of a two-minute walk.
I am not referring to the fact that various nations recognize rights in widely different ways. Nor do I refer to the rules of conduct laid down by property owners for anyone who wants to enter their homes or businesses. I mean the steady curtailing of the legal and Constitutionally-protected rights that peaceful people are allowed to exercise in public places. From free-speech zones at universities to the “cages” into which protesters are frequently forced, the ability to exercise fundamental rights in public places (and sometimes private ones) is being narrowed down geographically.