The Cherished ‘Right’ to Torture Evidence

Theodore Dalrymple returns to the Quadrant with an interesting essay on the concept of rights, the abortion debate, and the American Constitution.

The triumph of the Soviet conception of rights—that nothing counts as a right until it is exercised in practice—is caused by the apprehension, perhaps the oversensitive apprehension, of the manifest and manifold defects of our own societies. It is only fair and just, of course, that we should face up to these defects, but it is also important to make comparisons with what is possible, not with an abstract ideal held up to us that never has existed and never will exist.

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