Discuss the fundamental rights of "right to equality" and "right to freedom."

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The right to equality and the right to freedom are very important rights in a democracy.  However, these rights are not absolute.  Let us discuss why both of these statements are true.

In a democracy, we have to have the right to equality.  If we do not give all groups of people the same rights, we are not truly democratic.  We have seen this in our own history when we did not give African Americans rights that were equal to the rights of white Americans.  We have seen this when we did not give women equal rights.  If we have people who are second-class citizens, we are not living up to the ideas of democracy. 

However, we cannot have an absolute right to equality.  We cannot guarantee that everyone will have equal outcomes, just equal rights.  In other words, we cannot make sure that everyone has an equal amount of wealth or an equal amount of education.  The best we can do (though we do not always achieve this) is to ensure that everyone has equal rights and equal chances in our society.

In a democracy, we also have to have the right to freedom. We have to be able to form our own opinions and to voice those opinions.  We have to be free to believe in whatever religion we like or in no religion.  We have to be free from having the government search our homes and our persons without cause.

However, we cannot have an absolute right to freedom.  We cannot have the right to do whatever we want because that will conflict with our need for order.  Imagine if people claimed the right to make loud noises in residential neighborhoods in the middle of the night.  Imagine if people claimed the right to stand in the middle of the street and block traffic at rush hour.  We have to give up some of our rights so that we can have public order.

Thus, these are important rights, but they cannot be absolute.

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