Right vs Privilege
Privileges and rights are parts of most constitutions in democracies around the world. People know the literal meanings of both these words but confuse between the two concepts these days as they want their privileges just like their rights. Rights are granted by the constitution to individuals while privileges are those that provide immunity, benefit, or exemption to certain people or groups. Problems begin when people think of privilege as their right as they equate the two rather than being grateful for being given privileges. This article attempts to make the two concepts clear so that people treat privileges differently from the rights granted to them.
Rights are societal norms in the form of freedoms that are available to people by virtue of being citizens of a country or as members of a society. Rights are considered as fundamental and inalienable. All citizens of a country are granted certain rights under the constitution. In fact, it would be wrong to say that rights are granted as they are there to be taken or claimed by people and said to be fundamental in nature. Right to life is considered to be the most basic or fundamental of human rights and no human being can be denied this right under any condition or pretext. Right to freedom or liberty is another basic right that is inalienable and has to be claimed if not given by a government to its people.
Many of the rights that are so dear to the hearts of people such as right to vote, right to work, right to move freely inside the country, right to choose profession, right to profess a religion or the recent right to education have gradually evolved with the passage of time and enlightenment of people. Right to equality is a right that has taken centuries to be accepted and declared legal in many countries. This is one right that ensures that there can be no discrimination on the basis of color of skin, gender, religion, language, ethnicity etc. Today there is a world of rights as we see animal’s rights, people’s rights, and children’s rights and so on. There are natural rights that flow from being human beings, and there are legal rights that are different in different cultures.
A privilege is a special benefit or permission granted to an individual or a group based upon status, class, rank, title, or special talent. Thus, privilege is a special right not available to all members of the society but is rather restricted to a chosen few in the society. While some members of the society enjoy this right, others are excluded or denied these rights. For example, members of parliament are granted certain rights that are not available to common citizens. MPs are protected from any legal action for their behavior inside the parliament which is considered as an immunity or privilege granted to them under the law. Immunity to diplomats from regular checking at airports in the country is a case of a privilege that these people enjoy.
What is the difference between Right and Privilege?
• Right is available to all citizens while privilege is granted to individuals and groups on the basis of their status, rank, title or membership in a group.
• Suffrage or the right to vote today was available to white males only at one point of time. It was a privilege then but a right now.
• Many of the rights today were once privileges granted to higher classes.
• Privileges are exclusive rights that are available to a chosen few.
• Privileges are conditional and can be withdrawn while rights are inherent and cannot be withdrawn.