(Tara Jacoby for The Washington Post)
Columnist

Absolutely do not be concerned!

The Commission on Unalienable Rights is definitely not looking for areas we can make cuts! Don’t worry about it!

Certainly you heard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo say Monday upon the formation of his new commission, “I hope that the commission will revisit the most basic of questions: What does it mean to say or claim that something is, in fact, a human right? How do we know or how do we determine whether that claim that this or that is a human right, is it true, and therefore, ought it to be honored? How can there be human rights, rights we possess not as privileges we were granted or even earn, but simply by virtue of our humanity belong to us?”

But you should not be alarmed! That is just you being paranoid! For the secretary of state to say, “Words like ‘rights’ can be used for good or evil,” at the rollout of a new commission to investigate whether such a thing as a human right can exist at all is not startling. He says it’s an insight from Václav Havel!

Oh, yes, oh, absolutely, be calmed, be reassured! These are top scientists and philosophers who are contemplating this on the level of principle. They are not on the verge of discovering a neat, all-natural law trick that will let us get by with fewer rights than we thought possible (activists hate them!). No, no.

This commission is not getting rid of human rights — certainly not any we would miss. It is just … tidying up.

The commission will start by visualizing our ideal lifestyle. What would we like to do, and what would we like to avoid? Are there other regimes that inspire us?

We will assemble all our rights in one big pile so that we may study them more closely, and we will go through them, methodically, one category at a time. Freedom of speech — does this need to include the freedom to write bad about something good? LGBTQ rights — do we still have use for these now that the month of June is over? Have we been holding on to civil rights out of nostalgia, under the misapprehension that they are more widely applicable than, really, they need to be? Do we need reproductive rights at all?

The commission will hold each right up to the light and see if it sparks joy. (If it does, it will be folded so it takes up less space yet is more visible when we open the drawer.) If it does not, we briefly will clutch the right to ourselves, thank it for its past service, and place it in a nice, neat pile.

This is a healthy process. After all, it is 2019. This country is not so young as it once was. And we keep tripping over these rights whenever we start on a new endeavor of late. So consider whether you do not actually need freedom of the press only once every few months, as a special treat. Consider whether toothbrushes are really, after all, something children in captivity need. Consider whether maybe women require bodily autonomy only when there is not a full moon.

There is nothing alarming about any of this! You are paranoid to be alarmed. After all, it is possible that you have too many human rights. And then to bid farewell to a few of them, the ones that are cluttering things up, would be a great relief. Your country will look brand new without them! You might scarcely recognize it at all!

Read more from Alexandra Petri:

Do NOT leave me alone with a woman

How to use synonyms until no one knows you’re talking about children

Ceci n’est pas un pancake