#BookReview: How Rights Went Wrong by Jamal Greene

Interesting Yet Ultimately Self-Serving Take On Rights. This book presents as an interesting and novel (at least in an American sense) take on rights – namely, that they are not absolute and should be mediated by government actions. Greene claims that this would ultimately result in less polarization, though he seems to ignore large swaths of what has led to the polarization currently facing America when making such claims. Still, even though blatantly written from a leftist perspective, the book mostly presents its theory in a reasonably well-reasoned approach and thus adds enough to the overall conversation that it should be considered. Ultimately, though, it becomes clear that Greene’s entire premise of mediated rights is less a matter of principle or proposing a novel theory or (as he claims) more aligning American jurisprudence with that of much of the rest of the world and much more about defending Big Academia’s right to discriminate against the disabled and against certain races, and to control speech in a totalitarian manner. It is this realization – very blatant in the closing chapters, particularly when discussing Affirmative Action and campus speech codes – that ultimately considerably detracts from the overall merit of the proposal, and thus dramatically weakens the entire argument. Recommended.

This review of How Rights Went Wrong by Jamal Greene was originally written on October 16, 2020.