Raise your glasses and lower your standards, because I'm here to talk about rights and duties and I am quite serious about adding some items to the official canon of human rights, since we discover new ones often but forget about the cool ones from time to time. I guess we know how they work, right? I have the right not to be eaten, and therefore others have the duty not to eat me no matter how tasty I appear. Obvious enough I guess. I think it's the other way around though. It's more accurate to say that the duty comes first, isn't it? And that the right then flows from the duty, as effect from cause? That is, we all have the duty not to cannibalize even our most appetizing friends, and therefore we all have the right not to end up as any meal's main course. This is a reasonable expectation.
Wacky, right? What I'm saying is that we only have any individual rights at all because we first have duties to others. But even if I'm wrong, rights and duties are tied into a knot tight enough for it to be fun to invent some poetical new ones.
The Right To Be Kissed
So Jill suggests coquettishly to Jack that he go with her up the hill to fetch a pail of water, and then makes eyes at him while they dawdle around the well. Seems to me that Jack has a duty to kiss Jill. It's not a terribly urgent duty and he can do it when he feels like it, but eventually he damn well better kiss his sweetheart. That means Jill has a right to be kissed, which is kinda cool. Of course if Jack is a bad kisser, she is free to waive her right to be kissed, although this course of action might make it suck to be her boyfriend and is not recommended. After all, practice might improve Jack's performance of his duty to kiss.
The Right To Be Misunderstood
The little kids are already in bed and the big kids are watching a movie for big kids. No scenes with boobies, or words like "motherfucker" in it, but still too scary for the little kids. The movie's not done but daddy stands up and says "Good night all, I'm going upstairs to put your mother to bed." The biggest big kid isn't dumb. Grossed out, yes, but not dumb. The not-quite-as-big big kids are dumb, and don't know that what daddy actually means is that he's going upstairs to lubricate his whoopee stick in mommy's sugar basin. The not-quite-as-big big kids have the duty to not know more than they're old enough to know, and therefore to misunderstand daddy. The biggest big kid has the duty to purposefully misunderstand daddy's meaning, and just say good night with the rest of them. Now, daddy isn't lying, and he isn't joking, but he's not telling the truth either, quite. That means he is exercising his right to be misunderstood.
The Right To Be Forgotten
Let's say there's a young man with the unfortunate and embarrassing name of Arnold George Dorsey. When he changes his name to the much less embarrassing Englebert Humperdinck, we have the duty to forget that he was ever named anything else, since whatever he was once named no longer names him accurately. That means Englebert has the right to have that past unfortunate name forgotten, and all mention of him under his former moniker are to be erased from public record and from humanity's collective memory. Or...maybe we just have the duty to forget about Englebert Humperdinck and his syrupy pop altogether. Yeah, let's just forget about him. It's his right.