There is an ambivalent relationship between human rights, resting on the inherent equal dignity and moral worth of all human beings, and governments. Individual civil liberties and political freedoms are most commonly abused by governments, yet their protection requires the legal framework and enforcement machinery of the state. For social and economic rights, the state is the primary provider and guarantor. The same is true of the rights against discrimination on spurious grounds like race, religion and gender.

In recent times many Western democracies have prioritized group rights to enact anti-discrimination laws that can curtail long-established foundations of a liberal polity, especially freedom of speech. Some even try to settle history through law. In some countries, denying a particular historical genocide can land people in jail while others have criminalized any mention of a historical genocide.

There has been an accompanying explosion in regulatory edicts that represent a creeping confluence of powers of the three branches of government in bureaucratic departments that issue, interpret and enforce the edicts with crushing instant fines. Should the target seek relief in independent adjudication, the fines accumulate rapidly.