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Video transcript

- [Instructor] One of the chief responsibilities of the U.S. government is protecting the rights of citizens. But what are those rights? The extent of and limits on rights can be very complex. That's why we have constitutional lawyers and Supreme Court cases to decide whether the government protects or prohibits certain activities. But we can make some generalizations about categories of rights in the American political system. In this and the videos that follow, we're gonna distinguish between three different types of rights, personal rights, political rights, and economic rights. So let's dive in to personal rights. This is a really big umbrella that includes individual's right to decide the best course of action for themselves. Personal rights define the ways that you should be free from government interference in your private life, your home, your mind, and your body. You'll recognize some of them from the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech and religion, and the Fourth Amendment, which protects the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. So what are some of these rights? I've tried to put them into a spectrum from freedom of body to freedom of mind and heart, although you'll see that there are lots of places where freedom of body and freedom of mind overlap. First, there's freedom of movement. This means that you can move to a different state or even move to a different country if you want to. The U.S. government won't force you to stay put. There's the freedom of association. That is to hang out with anyone you want to. There's the freedom to refuse medical care, to be able to control your own body. The government can't force you to undergo a medical procedure. Likewise, there's the freedom to have children, as many or as few as you want. There's also the freedom from government intrusion into your private domain, also known as the right to privacy. It means that the government can't come into your home without a warrant or otherwise interfere in your private life behind closed doors. There's the freedom of expression, the ability of an individual or group to express their beliefs, thoughts, ideas, and emotions. There's the freedom to access education. So people who are school age have the right to receive a public education no matter who they are or whether they have learning differences. There's the freedom to marry whomever you choose. And lastly, there's freedom of religion and conscience. This is your personal right to think and believe whatever you want. The United States doesn't have an established church, meaning one that the government supports financially or that citizens are obligated to attend. Some of these freedoms might seem like no-brainers, but people who live in authoritarian societies don't necessarily enjoy these same rights. If you've ever read George Orwell's novel "1984," it's a good example of what society might look like without these rights. In it, the government spies on everyone in their homes and prevents anyone from speaking out against the ruling party. But it's also important to recognize that these rights aren't absolute. Many of them have limits, and what those limits should be sparks a lot of public debate. For example, when we talk about the right to refuse medical care, we might think about vaccines. Should people be required to get vaccines if not doing so poses a risk to the health of others? What about freedom of expression? Should people be able to say whatever they want, or should the government impose limits on hate speech? The personal rights of one person will frequently overlap with or even contradict the personal rights of someone else. So that's it for this brief overview of personal rights. In the next video, we'll discuss the political rights of citizens.