There are often occasions where we may possess a given right but do not have the right to exercise that right because of the difficulties in obtaining the support services that make it possible to do so. I was recently watching one of my favorite legal YouTube channels talk about a recent case where people who provided logistics services (namely driving) to sex workers at an elite Calgary escort service were put on trial for sex trafficking and were actually convicted of having received a financial benefit for the sex work of others. Intriguingly enough, Canadian law apparently provides a right for people to engage in sex work without fear of prosecution for doing so.
The issue is that Canadian law appears to be vague and contradictory on what is allowed. It may very well be that there is a right for people to engage in sex work, but that everyone else associated with the act in even tangential ways is subject to criminal prosecution, which means that the right is a hollow and empty one that simply cannot be engaged in. It could be criminal to rent a room to someone engaged in sex work, to help do marketing, to be a bouncer at a strip club, to do accounting work for someone in the field, or any other number of support services. What appears to be what the prosecutors of Canada are operating is that while someone can legally, under certain circumstances, to engage in sex work, anyone who receives the money received for sex work to provide said sex worker with services is now potentially subject to criminal prosecution.
This is by no means an isolated occurrence. Let us discuss an area of law where I have relevant personal experience. To the extent that we have a right to speak, the efficacy of that speech and the usefulness of that speech depend on that speech being communicated to other, and often that speech requires there being some sort of medium for speech. If certain speech containing painful and unpleasant truths is criminalized, few people will be willing to risk criminal prosecution in order to provide truths that people are unwilling to listen to. Do not cast pearls before swine, and all that. Similarly, there will not be people willing to host and convey that communication to others, because they could be on the hook for having promoted or even accepted such speech.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it behooves us to at least recognize and acknowledge what we are doing. There may be things that we want to prevent but that which we cannot move against directly for one reason or another, but our way of dealing with it is to attack everything around it so that it can be effectively impossible for people to do that which we do not want to accept but do not feel that we can comfortably build. We create a chilling effect around activities we hate by making people unwilling to provide the logistics and services that make it possible for others to exercise some right that we concede that they have, because all the people who would provide help under normal circumstances are not subject to possible criminal prosecution for profiting in any way off of their service. Under such circumstances, we would make people pariahs for doing what they have a legal right to do. There may be circumstances where we want to do that, but if we do, we should be honest with ourselves that we are doing so, because we could very easily find ourselves pariahs for doing what we have a right to do, and it doesn’t feel so well with the shoe on the other foot.