Friday, May 29, 2009

What is a Human Right Anyway?

I have been looking at a number of the Human Rights cases in Canada of late, and must say that I do not have a clue what a human right is based on the cases I read.

At its most fundamental levels, Word Net from Princeton University defines "human right" as "any basic right or freedom to which all human beings are entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere (including rights to life and liberty as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law." (italics mine)

So, a Human Right is a basic right or freedom and governments are not to interfere in my entitlement to that right. This I understand.

I find it particularly interesting to note that our governmental Human Rights Commissions are happy to interfere with my right of free speech if it interferes with your right to not be offended. I can see where a right to speak one's mind, even if one is an idiot is a basic right, but I am not so sure that a right to not be offended is basic or anything other than concocted or contrived.

Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." (italics mine)

WOW!! There are a lot of people in third world countries that don't know they are equal. My problem is more with the people here that think they are more equal than they are. I thought that equal was equal. But this I can understand as well.

The United Nations says that we are all endowed with "reason and conscience". Theoretically Yes. Practically Not so much. Most of us seem to be endowed with excuse not reason, and conscience takes formation, which is work, requiring thought about someone other than oneself. Good luck with that.

From the Ontario Human Rights Commission web site, I note what they have to say: "Ontario's Human Rights Code , the first in Canada, was enacted in 1962. The Code protects people in Ontario against discrimination in employment, accommodation, goods, services and facilities, and membership in vocational associations and trade unions.

There are fifteen grounds of discrimination under the Code: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion), sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, disability, age (18 and over, 16 and over in occupancy of accommodation), marital status (including same sex partners), family status, receipt of public assistance (in accommodation only) and record of offences (in employment only)."

So the code protects people against discrimination based on 15 different grounds. Correct me if I am wrong here, but if I go to the Ontario HRC and complain about you, and the HRC takes my side from the get go, investigates and prosecutes from my perspective, and then uses its own panel to come to a decision, is that not a form of discrimination against you? Of course it is. It is a form of persecution and contrary to all the principles of common law that we have always held dear in this country and most developed countries of the world.

This is taking Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and adding to it in my opinion. Once you take a simple concept and make it more complex, you lose the simple beauty that it once had.

It starts to remind me of things I noticed with some of my "Observant Jewish" acquaintances in my younger days. Back in the day, one of my acquaintances had to work on a Saturday. The 4th (if you are Jewish) commandment given to Moses said "Remember the sabbath and keep it holy". To an observant Jew that meant not driving a car (to many ot means not even being in a moving car), or an elevator, and things like that. Well, he had to get to work. Someone picked him up, problem solved. The client he was working at was in an ofice building, and he would have to take an elevator. Fortunately, on arriving the person that drove him, pushed the buttons. But later, he went out with someone else, then came back alone. He was in a quandary, because by his view of the Jewish laws he could not operate a conveyance, and he had to wait for someone to come along and push the buttons for him. In my opinion, my acquaintance and his peers have for numerous generations taken a simple commandment of God and worked the angles, to try and make the simple so complex that you cannot get it wrong. If the Lord's Day matters to you whatever day it is, then take a stand, and don't work that day. Don't niggle over the details.

Discrimination has become unpopular because people with formed consciences have said: "Enough is enough", and have chosen to do something about it. Civil rights in the US did not come about because of legislation. If so, then the Civil war and legislation of the time would have solved it. No, it took people of good will actively doing something about it, and along the way, people died, because it was worth dying for.

I do not for one second think that the actions of the Ontario or any other HRC is going to make me love a member of the 15 groups they claim to protect.

When Jesus walked the earth he gave us two commandments: 1) Love God (however you want to define your God), and 2) Love your neighbour as yourself, and everyone is your neighbour. The United Nations says we should act towards others in a spirit of brotherhood. That's close, but Jesus was more specific. He gave us an action word command to Love.

The HRCs have missed their mark, but that is because they have no firm foundation on which they are basing their actions. They are making it up as they go along.

Example. Ezra Levant was charged with hate crimes for publishing the Muslim cartoons in Western Standard. He was such a pain in their collective a??es that they dropped their charges against him. Rev. Stephen Boissoin wrote an opinion letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate about homosexuals, and they pilloried him. The list goes on.

We need to love one another, regardless of any of the 15 distinctions the Ontario HRC or any of the others define. That comes from the heart, not from legislation.

The HRCs are a hindrance to true Human Rights not supporters, regardless of what they tell us.


Anonymous said...

I like how you ended your post. I agree that we should treat everyone with respect, love etc. But as you stated, that doesn't always happen. How do you propose that we, as a society, protect individuals who do have their rights violated? Those who legitimately have been discriminated against?

I agree there are abuses to the system, just as in any system (family courts, criminal courts etc.). But shouldn't there be some way to prevent human rights violations or to try and make right when a violation has occurred? The way I see it, it makes sense to criticize the process or certain decisions but it comes across as though you oppose the entire system on a fundamental level.

I know from your posts that you wouldn't support someone being fired because they wouldn't sleep with their boss or not getting a job because they were a minority. So how do you suggest we address these issues that still exist every day??


MBrandon said...


These are good points that you raise, and as you are commenting on posts that are over a year old, you might have noticed that my blog has taken a different turn this last year.

I found that looking at the silliness of the HRC's was making me cranky, and very negative.

My way to battle the HRCs now is to ignore them generally, though from time to time I comment on particular cases.

Though I have been a Christian for most of my life, I decided later on last year to fight this battle with prayer, and by trying to write things to uplift people, not to put them down.

The problem with giving people power over others is that they want to use it. The HRCs are quasi-judicial bodies, but have taken on lives of their own. They no longer deal often with real human rights like those articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but make them up as they go.

These new made up rights then discriminate against others, creating a hierarchy of rights.

As a disabled person, I get to go to the head of the class. As a senior I am somewhere in the biddle. But, as a Christian I am at the bottom of the heap. My lesbian step daughter and her partner go to the top of the heap, above me in my disabled persona. My white anglo saxon step son is persona non grata at the HRCs.

This does not seem fair, reasonable or truthful to me.