Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Human Rights

One of my favourite authors/commentators is the American humourist P J O'Rourke. He is deeply libertarian and acutely incisive of thought and is prone, as am I, to a reductio ad absurdam approach to modern myths. One of my favourite quotes is (and I paraphrase somewhat)"There is only one basic human right; you can do what the hell you want. However, with it comes one basic human responsibility; you bear, in full, the consequences of your actions."

This is where the Human Rights Act fall flat on its face. It does not even attempt to link rights with responsibilities. How can this be so when PJ's slightly glib premise actually shines a stark light on the underpinning morality of western society? As a society I believe we are not defined by our rights but by our responsibilities and by how we discharge them. The human rights act has turned this ethos on its head and clearly places rights above responsibilities. I struggle to handle the logic of this. Rights surely exist ONLY if you accede to the societal norms that ensure the common good; move beyond these norms and feel the consequences. It is fundamental to a moral and viable society. Most long standing laws, unlike he human rights act, exist to protect the wider populous from those who deliberately choose to harm us, this can only be right.

If you do not wish to live by society's rules you have NO RIGHT to be part of that society.

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