Do you have the right to your human rights?

You know how it is, you’ve just abducted someone off the street, dragged them to a deserted basement, you’re just attaching the electrodes to the testicles (usually theirs but each to his own) and then you suddenly remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and think “Ooh… should I really be doing this?”

Or maybe you don’t. I mean, if you’re the sort of person to regularly find yourself wondering “Am I violating fundamental human rights?” then what kind of life are you living?

Which leads me to question why exactly our most politically credible right-wing nut hatch has stated the intent to ignore European Court of Human Rights rulings. The UDHR is the document which our noble country has already watered down a little to produce the Human Rights Act of 1998.

I’ll echo the advice of Jack of Kent, and suggest that you read the bill and ask yourself which bits seem wrong to you? As the article there notes, opponents of the act tend to display a varied combination of ‘vague’ and ‘misinformed’ but it’s precisely such groundless peroration that tends to lodge in the mind of the careless voter.

The UDHR was drafted after the Second World War when (SPOILER ALERT) dreadful things were done to people in the hope that its adoption might prevent such atrocities in the future. It’s built on a long tradition of thinking by the most noted philosophers in history. The idea that a small cabal of privileged, rich white guys should want to start rewriting our relationship with it should set off alarm bells. Perhaps that Etonian classical education makes them wary; one of the earliest discussions of rights in religion is from Zoroastrian philosophy: “the recognition of the equality of men & women in all respects; the condemnation of autocratic & unjust rule and the recommendation to the faithful not to submit to oppressive rulers – all these demonstrates the values of human rights in Zoroastrianism. ” Yeah – do not submit to oppressive rulers. Who’d think that would make a Tory uncomfortable…?

In all truth, whatever the Tories do with the law concerning human rights, it’s likely to have little direct impact upon most of us; if you’re not currently exercising your right to peaceful protest and assembly (and most of us aren’t), seeking asylum or running for office, your life will go on as normal. But human rights is one of the pillars on which what is left of enlightenment in our society stands. As soon as we let the protection of those rights become eroded in the name of political expediency, we start a journey down a perilous and slippery slope. And if you look at foreign policy, education, health and just about everything else they’ve got their hands on, that’s a slope that our present government are sprinting towards like a steroid-abusing bobsleigh team at the top of the Cresta run.

So again, read the UDHR, it’s short, clear and easy to understand. Then ask yourself if you should be allowing someone who has a problem with any of those statements to be in power.

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