Let's begin with defining some terms. Since the Enlightenment, western philosophy has recognized something called Natural Rights. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson defined this concept succinctly than most: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Beginning with John Locke, these concepts have been endlessly tossed around, but suffice it to say that there are Natural Right endowed in each human being that supersede all human forms of governance: they are granted by a/the Creator.
Let's turn now to 'civil rights'. First, look at the adjective 'civil'. This is defined as something having to do with citizens and the life of citizens in society. A 'citizen' is defined as a natural-born or naturalized member of a political entity, such as a country. In other words, these rights are granted as part of citizenship, and citizenship is conferred by a political entity, i.e. government.
Immediately, one should be able to perceive the profound differences between Natural Rights and civil rights (upper-case letters notwithstanding). Natural Rights are 'endowed' by a Creator, which exists above all human control or authority. Civil rights are granted by governments as part of a 'benefit package' for citizens. Think of them like employee packages offered by companies as part of your compensation.
What this implies is that Natural Rights are immutable. They are unalienable (un-a-LIEN-able - no lien may be placed on them). They are not subject to whims and fancy. They exist above and beyond the control of political and governmental agencies.
Civil rights, on the other hand, like employee benefit packages, can be given, withdrawn or modified at any time. They are granted by government and can be taken away by government. They are, in fact, mere ghosts of Natural Rights and are not endowed on all people, only those who are citizens of a certain political division, just as my benefit package is only for people who work in my company. Yours may, and probably does, vary.
Frankly, if I were agitating for rights, I would chose to enforce those I was born with and which cannot be taken away, rather than begging government to grant me privileges that could just as easily be taken back tomorrow.
When we clarify the terms, we can begin to see the outline of an agenda, one which is subversive and dangerous to humanity. While on the surface it may seem all warm and fuzzy to grant this group or that their civil rights, in fact what we are doing is weaking our Natural Rights by reducing them to benefit packages.
Let's say the sales and marking group at a company want to split because the marketing people want special benefits. The company splits the group and gives them what they want. Now the collective power of the original, single group is cut in half and dissension is introduced by making one of the new groups 'more special' than the other. Later, when the marketing group wants a raise, they go to the sales group to support their efforts, but the folks in sales resent the marketers, so they back off. The company, knowing that the marketing group doesn't have the support, is able to 'outsource' their function and cuts most of the positions in that department. Thus, the original plan to get better benefits actually worked against the marketers in the end.
Granted, this is a somewhat simplistic example, but it sums up the net effect. Under the Natural Rights program, all human beings everywhere have the same benefit package, no matter what company they work for, or even if they are self-employed. If they change jobs or companies, they carry with them the same benefits they have enjoyed since birth.
Looked at in this way, we can define the agenda behind abortion rights or gay rights or minority rights. These are not efforts to gain special status (though they may appear so from a certain perspective), they are fractionalizing humanity and making it far easier to take rights away in the long run.
Thus, the Natural Right to Life can be whittled down to how many days of gestation, or how much of the body has emerged from the mother, or other nit-picky details. It also allows nefarious people to claim that 'tissue' which does not match the criteria of 'life' can be used for research and even patented as 'product' or 'property'.
Let's take another example. Let's say the green people are demanding their civil rights from the purple people. Automatically, this places the purple people in a superior position, able to 'grant' rights to other groups. Furthermore, it creates strife among the green and the blue people, because the blue people don't yet have those civil rights. Where before, we had 50% of the people in the purple class, and 50% in the blue and green classes, we now have 50% purples, 25% greens and 25% blues, with the blues and the greens no longer working together. With the stroke of a pen, the purples have cut their opposition in half, while doubling their strength because they are not only in the position to grant rights, but they have got the opposition fighting among themselves and leaving the purples alone.
If we purples keep this ruse going, we can eventually subdivide the greens against each other, with long hairs on one side having special rights, while the short hairs on the other side have yet to receive the new civil rights. Opposition is cut again, and on it goes.
Under the Natural Rights system, there is no need to fractionalize our collective power. All humans everywhere at all times have the same rights: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. We are all human at conception and thus have the right to be born and to live as Nature or Destiny intends. We all can go about those lives without hindrance by social or political forces. And we may enjoy our privacy and self-rule within the boundaries of reason and concern for others' rights, so that the rewards and responsibilities of our life choices are ours alone.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are very broad categories, and Jefferson noted that these three were only some of a larger group.
Frankly, I would rather have unalienable, Natural Rights. But, that brings up one last thing to look at: the term unalienable.
Unalienable is NOT the same as inalienable, no matter what the dictionaries say. It is composed of un-, a-, lien (the root word), and -able. The prefix un- simply means "not". The prefix a- means "in", "on" or "into". The root word lien means "to put a claim on a person or property for payment of a debt". And finally, the suffix -able, which of course is the ability to do something. Thus, unalienable means "not able to place into a claim for debt", or simply, cannot be taken away for any reason.
I think most people would rather have unalienable Natural Rights given as part of our existence and heritage as human beings by an unassailable Creator, than a mish-mash of civil rights that can be handed out and taken away willy-nilly by governments and politicians with agendas that don't necessarily have our best interests at heart.
It's time we change the context of our argument. We don't want civil rights. We want Natural Rights, and we want them to be recognized, not granted, and defended not codified. Human life is not a product or intellectual property to be owned. Liberty is not being able to choose between New Zealand and Mexican strawberries. The Pursuit of Happiness is not bigger plasma TeeVees and iPoops. These are fundamental parts of our beings, just as a heart or lungs might be.
As an example, a woman's and man's choice is limited to whether or not to have sex. Once their gametes have met, the resulting zygote is imbued with the human genome and those cells now have, as part of their heritage, the Rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (among others), just as every other human being. To argue any other point is to open the debate of Natural Rights to the possibility of civil rights, and once that happens, all bets are off.
Natural Rights are not a matter of convenience or expediency. They are immutable parts of the Universal Order of things, whether we call that Creator, God or some other name. No government, group or entity has the right to abridge or a-lien those rights and to do so is a crime under the Natural Law.
It's time to redefine our terms in the public discourse. We no longer want civil rights granted to us, we want to exercise the Natural Rights with which we were conceived. Anything less is a crime against Nature herself.