Difference Between Right and Privilege

by Al Vick
The rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are enshrined in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

The rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are enshrined in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Although the terms "right" and "privilege" are easy to define, differences of opinion still remain as to whether something should be considered a right or a privilege. Additionally, rights and privileges are sometimes in conflict.

Definition

The Free Dictionary.com defines a right as "something that is due to a person or governmental body by law, tradition, or nature." The pursuit of happiness, for example, is a right defined by human nature.

Identification

According to The Free Dictionary.com, a privilege is "a special benefit, exemption from a duty, or immunity from penalty, given to a particular person, a group or a class of people."

Features

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution upholds the right of the people to peacefully assemble on public property. Assembling on private property is a privilege that is granted by property owners.

Conflict

At times, rights conflict with granted privileges. State implied-consent laws for example, require that a motorist consent to chemical testing if requested by a police officer, thus conflicting with the driver's right against self-incrimination.

Considerations

In spite of understandable definitions, it is not always easy to differentiate between rights and privileges. Should access to health care, for example, be considered as a right or a privilege?

About the Author

Hailing from Northwest Arkansas, Al Vick has been writing environmental and political material for more than 20 years and is the author of several short stories. He has been published in the "Ozark Gazette" and "Online Journal" and holds an associate degree in arts from Rhode Island Junior College.

Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of gnuckx cc0