In a discussion on human rights on AVfM I read the following:
Quote: In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Translation: Your rights end when laws are passed contradicting them, so long as they can be justified as “for the greater good” or “in service of public order”… and your rights are invalid if they become inconvenient for the U.N.
This one article, the second to last, allows for the total erosion of free speech – if speaking your opinion may damage somebody’s honor or reputation as listed in Article 12, or if such speech may be deemed “hate speech” and thus in violation of article 5 as a form of “degrading treatment”, then this article gives a government the right to pass a law “limiting” such speech in service to “public order”.
The commenter goes by the handle MrAndryist and the quote he’s taking issue with is a portion of article 29 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And I share his concern on this. This is a big reason why I take issue with utilitarianism, because in the end it all boils down to what serves the greatest number of people, the simple majority. That too is why I continue to take issue with the term “democracy,” because it’s come to signify nearly the same thing. Nearly everything humans have come up with places the collective above and beyond the individual, except what was envisioned by our forefathers here in the U.S.: a representative constitutional republic where the states and federal government were strictly limited in power. That new form of government was intended to provide a voice even for minority factions. But…we Americans failed at upholding that idea once we learned how to use our votes to exploit the system and one another.
Now we have a situation where governments can do largely whatever they please by actively manipulating the majority into going along with the program. Or at least deterring us from resisting in effective ways (whatever those are anymore). The masses went along with these schemes because they imagined it would benefit their own selves, nevermind if it jacks up future generations. Kinda strange how people’s individual psychologies were played up on so as to pave the way to a conformity-demanding future where individuality wound up further marginalized. Quite paradoxically, this has been our undoing.
I too wonder what human rights we can truly lay claim to in this day and age. Certainly fewer than 30, I know that much. But in realizing this I must accept that these rights necessarily transcend any laws that may ever be put on any books anywhere. This is an example of what remains above the law, fundamentally speaking. But if we don’t each aim to uphold and defend such ideas, how much power can any one individual claim when it comes down to defending his or her rights?
Are rights truly no more than social constructs, as George Carlin was getting at? If the State will not recognize your rights, do they cease to exist? What if one doesn’t possess the power to protect or to act on such ideals oneself, what then?
I don’t know. Got lots of conflicting thoughts on this topic.
I’ll be curious to find out what some of the men there come up with in this vein.