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Offline screwtape

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Rights
« on: June 12, 2013, 02:26:23 PM »
Over the course of my years here, I have seen many discussions about the source and nature of morality.  We have had vigorous debates as to whether morality is subjective or objective, whether they are human constructs, decrees of deities or something more akin to universal constants to be discovered. But I have never seen a similar discussion regarding rights.

Rights are closely tied to our ideas of morals.  For one, they reflect how we think things ought to be.  For two, many religious folks think both are “god given”.  For three, many people take them both to be absolute or objective. 

I had not given them much thought until lately with the gun control discussions.  In years past, I thought of them in much the same way as I thought about morals – absolute, objective, universal.  But since my views on morality have changed 180 degrees, I have not examined my thoughts on rights.  It occurs to me that they match exactly my thoughts on morals.  They are human constructs, products of our culture, and change with the times. 

When Justice Scalia recently asked, “when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage?” he may have been focusing very narrowly on his job – the constitution.  The question he did not ask was “when did this become a right?”  And Tel Olsen gave the right answer: “There's no specific date in time. This is an evolutionary cycle.”  I think the fact that many rights we take for granted are not enumerated in the constitution shows that rights are in a constant state of evolution even if the constitution is not.

I think this is also one of the reasons why I have no problem with gun control or, frankly, banning most gun ownership altogether.  I have no sense that there is such a right for the public at large to own guns, the Bill of Rights not withstanding. 

It may be that, like moral rules, there is a utilitarian/ natural selection aspect to them.  The rights that last are the ones that work best for a society. 


What do you think?

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Offline Tero

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Re: Rights
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2013, 02:43:47 PM »
The bill of rights entry in Wikipedia explains the English origins.

The 2nd amendment had mostly to do with a large country, opening borders and no standing army. Militias were rounded up as needed for law and order.

There seems to be an implied right to your house home and privacy.

I think it's hilsrious people freaking out about NSA which is not set up to catch drugs guns or prostitutes in normal scale incodents. A boat full of cocaine is a security matter.

Elsewhere
Me:Big Brother is watching you. Your observer has a big job.

Well, you have to compete! Every Observer has 300 Americans to observe. 100 of those do not use the Internet more than once a week. You have to compete with 200 to get your Observer to pay attention to you. Using Obama or NSA in text no longer works. If you say "i'm getting some fertilizer today" they have to follow you to Home Depot.

Mr Libertarian:
Was this intended to make sense?

Me:
I can only answer with a question: do you have a sense of humor?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2013, 02:46:35 PM by Tero »

Offline Traveler

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Re: Rights
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2013, 02:58:15 PM »
I've thought about this a lot too.

I believe that everyone SHOULD have basic housing, food, medical care, and education.

Beyond that it gets complicated.  ;D
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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2013, 04:50:14 AM »
My understanding of rights is that they are fluid, they have qualifying factors. i.e. you are only eligible to this right where you meet criteria a,b,c.

This is where rights differ from morals as morals are unconditional

Offline screwtape

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Re: Rights
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2013, 07:14:38 AM »
i.e. you are only eligible to this right where you meet criteria a,b,c.

?  What rights are conditional?  Speech we take to be more or less unconditional, even though under the bush era we became acquainted with "free speech zones" (I thought the whole continent was supposed to be a free speech zone).  Under what conditions to you have the right to not testify against yourself?

morals are unconditional

?  What do you mean by that?  What is an example?

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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2013, 07:49:23 AM »
i.e. you are only eligible to this right where you meet criteria a,b,c.

?  What rights are conditional?  Speech we take to be more or less unconditional, even though under the bush era we became acquainted with "free speech zones" (I thought the whole continent was supposed to be a free speech zone).  Under what conditions to you have the right to not testify against yourself?

I was thinking in terms of the ECHR[1]

human rights are guaranteed but most are also qualified. For example the right to life in article 2 provides that the state should not take your life. This is why capital punishment is off the cards in the signatory states.
However this right is qualified in that the state can take your life (i.e. the police can shoot you dead and not be in contravention of the ECHR) if you do not meet the criteria where your life is protected by that right

Similarly the US right to freedom of speech is qualified, as Bradley Manning found out. You're free to talk about what you want with the proviso that the state doesn't mind. it s this prohibitive provision that make the right qualified.
morals are unconditional

?  What do you mean by that?  What is an example?
 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Convention_on_Human_Rights

Personal morals do not have a qualifying statement. For example a vegan thinks it is morally wrong to eat beef. There is no circumstance where a vegan would think "actually, its ok to eat this steak".

Offline screwtape

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Re: Rights
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2013, 09:15:40 AM »
I think you have it backward.

You are assumed to have rights without having to meet any requirements.  However, under certain conditions, you lose those rights.  Those conditions are usually at the intersection of two people's competing rights. 

For example, suppose you were threatening to blow up a busload of cheerleaders.  That interferes with my right to leer at cheerleaders.  So the police have the right to stop you from infringing on my rights even if that means they have to kill you. Or something like that. 

Or, it is assumed Manning has free speech, except in certain cases.

As for morality, context is a requirement.  For example, do not kill people is perhaps the most basic moral rule.  But it is not absolute.  If Joel Osteen were to attempt to strangle you (as he is wont to do) you would find it convenient to perhaps take his life in defense of your own. And pretty much everyone, except Joel Osteen and Gandhi (but including Victoria Osteen), would agree that you would be totally moral in doing so. 

The vegan example you gave was just a starting point.  His ethic would become a little more maleable in the right context.  Say I locked him in a shipping container and the only food I gave him was a freezer full of Bubba burgers.  After a few days his moral imperative to live would override his moral apprehensions about gnoshing a cow that had died weeks prior.

The question of "do I have the right to X" is generally "yes, except...".  The question of "is it moral to X" is generally "it depends on the context".

At the bottom, morality is about survival.  I'm not sure what rights are about, though.
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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2013, 09:47:24 AM »
Yes, you're right. I did get it the wrong way round. I've drank too much tea today.

I think that rights generally protect individual freedoms, mainly from the state.
Where you hear about human rights abuses it is mostly in totalitarian regimes.
But as I say right are fluid as they are conditional. After all the state doesn't want to give people too much freedom.

Morals are as fluid as you want them to be. You say the vegan would eat the burgers if he had no choice. I say he might equally set fire to himself outside the burger processing plant in protest about the slaughter of the cows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Quang_Duc

I don't think morality is always about survival.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Rights
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2013, 09:57:59 AM »
I don't think morality is always about survival.

Why not?  What would be an example?  What would you say morality is about?
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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2013, 10:09:27 AM »
I don't think morality is always about survival.

Why not?  What would be an example?  What would you say morality is about?

People can act selflessly in persuit of upholding their moral beliefs. Even if that act put them in peril.

An example would be something like this - http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/offduty-policeman-ian-dibell-killed-trying-to-disarm-gunman-inquest-hears-8564885.html

Was this man acting out of his moral convictions?

Offline One Above All

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Re: Rights
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2013, 10:09:54 AM »
BM
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Rights
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2013, 10:25:24 AM »
People can act selflessly in persuit of upholding their moral beliefs. Even if that act put them in peril.

An example would be something like this - http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/offduty-policeman-ian-dibell-killed-trying-to-disarm-gunman-inquest-hears-8564885.html

Was this man acting out of his moral convictions?

He was.  His duty (which I would call a form of morality, or at least closely associated to it) is to protect the community. 

Survival does not necessarily mean survival of the individual.  It generally means the species, but it works at all levels - family, clan, tribe, town, state, nation.  I think morals likely evolved at the tribal level.  As a social animal, group function means survival for humans.  We have our individual prerogatives, but in order to truly succeed we must set aside some of our personal liberties in order for the group to function. 

So it is moral that the individual (cop) would sacrifice something (freedom, resources, life) for the benefit (survival) of the group (tribe, town, country, species).

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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2013, 10:31:30 AM »
He was.  His duty (which I would call a form of morality, or at least closely associated to it) is to protect the community. 

Survival does not necessarily mean survival of the individual.  It generally means the species, but it works at all levels - family, clan, tribe, town, state, nation.  I think morals likely evolved at the tribal level.  As a social animal, group function means survival for humans.  We have our individual prerogatives, but in order to truly succeed we must set aside some of our personal liberties in order for the group to function. 

So it is moral that the individual (cop) would sacrifice something (freedom, resources, life) for the benefit (survival) of the group (tribe, town, country, species).


How would this relate to animal protesters that risk the loss of their liberty for the sake of the bunnies in a pharmacutical lab?

edit or is this not a moral conviction?

Online Graybeard

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Re: Rights
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2013, 11:22:23 AM »
A right is a dangerous thing to give out. What you basically say is “One size fits all for all time and for everyone.” which patently untrue.

Rights work as long as everyone does not exercise them or exercises them only with restraint or in necessity and in the spirit in which they were given. The drug-dealer with a gun is not doing this.

There are rights that attach only to certain persons. This is useful as, if they abuse the right, then they can be removed from that group of people. In the UK, Freemen of the City of London have a right to drive a herd of sheep over London Bridge. Of course, if this took place every day, someone would have to come in and restrict the right otherwise London would grind to a halt several times a day.

An ordinary right gives you something that the law or more precisely, an agreeing authority should not, without just cause, prevent. But an absolute right, if there is such a thing, is a total disaster. In the UK, there were various rights to trial of which trial by combat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_by_combat#Modern_era )[1] was one. Now consider what would be happening if that had been an absolute right.

In UK, you cannot have an absolute right, as Parliament can make any law regardless of any other law or right or custom, etc. In fairness, Parliament does restrict itself and will not interfere without due cause in proportion to the ‘right’ in question.

The last lot of ‘rights’ that were granted to us were Human Rights, of which only one, the right not to be tortured, is absolute[2]; the rest are qualified. The public have become outraged at some of the rights granted to thoroughly objectionable criminals and want the rights removed.

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Lib Dems, had an idea. He put up a website asking what laws people wanted abolishing. The website closed when it was found that people did not want any laws abolished but posted only suggestions for new laws!

Basically, I am against rights but I am in favour of being allowed to do anything you want unless it is prohibited.
 1. The latest was http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1416262/Court-refuses-trial-by-combat.htmlbut courts just bat it aside.
 2. It seems that the irony that you can, in certain circumstances, kill someone but you may not torture and release them has been missed.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline screwtape

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Re: Rights
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2013, 02:04:44 PM »
How would this relate to animal protesters that risk the loss of their liberty for the sake of the bunnies in a pharmacutical lab?

edit or is this not a moral conviction?

I would say it is a moral conviction.  I think moral development is entangled with empathy.  We do not have moral feelings about those with whom we do not empathize.  We eat cows but not people because we do not see cows as "us".  However, we do not eat dogs in the west because we do see them as part of the family.  You don't eat family members.  The chinese have no qualms about that, however. I suspect they also eat children. 

As is evident in the OT, people generally only saw their own tribe as people.  Other tribes were on par with rats, locust and other animals to be exterminated as needed.  "Thou shalt not kill" obviously only applied to other jews. But as time went on and we developed, we started to apply morality more broadly.  We started to see kinship across tribal boundaries. We recognized our species.   

So, I would say vegans and animal rights people have taken morality about as far as it can go.  They see kinship in all animal life and deem it as important as their own. So surival for them is about a much broader idea.  For them it is survival of life.

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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2013, 03:24:28 AM »
How would this relate to animal protesters that risk the loss of their liberty for the sake of the bunnies in a pharmacutical lab?

edit or is this not a moral conviction?

I would say it is a moral conviction.  I think moral development is entangled with empathy.  We do not have moral feelings about those with whom we do not empathize.  We eat cows but not people because we do not see cows as "us".  However, we do not eat dogs in the west because we do see them as part of the family.  You don't eat family members.  The chinese have no qualms about that, however. I suspect they also eat children. 

As is evident in the OT, people generally only saw their own tribe as people.  Other tribes were on par with rats, locust and other animals to be exterminated as needed.  "Thou shalt not kill" obviously only applied to other jews. But as time went on and we developed, we started to apply morality more broadly.  We started to see kinship across tribal boundaries. We recognized our species.   

So, I would say vegans and animal rights people have taken morality about as far as it can go.  They see kinship in all animal life and deem it as important as their own. So surival for them is about a much broader idea.  For them it is survival of life.

I agree with this. However I also think that morality has gone beyond its original evolutionary purpose.
We do have people who take their personal morality to an extreme to the detriment of humans. Such as those who bomb the homes of those who work in labs.

I think that it is because morality has gone beyond its evolutionary purpose is why we see examples of people in the same situation acting differently according to their own personal morals.

An example of this would be some of the actions on WW1.

Here you have ordinary people conscripted by their government to kill other ordinary people conscripted by their government.
Clearly there is no personal vendetta between the tommy and the boche (as the 1915 xmas football game demonstrates) but they suspended their empathy and personal morality in service of, i suppose, protecting the survival of their wider tribe.

Then you have the conscientious objector. One who would rather face the firing squad than take another life. Using your description you could say that their personal morality went beyond the tribe to the species in general.

Finally you have the firing squad who kills their own country men for refusing to take human life. Are these acting to protect their country men by giving an example of what happens if you fail to defend your country men thus, in a very round about way, protecting their tribe?

This is a whole bunch of different personal morals being applied in the same situation, if it were as clear cut as simple survival i don't think morality would be interpreted in so many different ways.

What do you think?

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Re: Rights
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2013, 03:28:37 AM »
bm
"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2013, 08:25:00 AM »
A right is a dangerous thing to give out. What you basically say is “One size fits all for all time and for everyone.” which patently untrue.
This is true however the logistical impracticalities of tailoring individual rights to individuals makes any other approach impossible. This is why the courts are there to tailor the rights to the individual by interpretation of the right.



There are rights that attach only to certain persons. This is useful as, if they abuse the right, then they can be removed from that group of people. In the UK, Freemen of the City of London have a right to drive a herd of sheep over London Bridge. Of course, if this took place every day, someone would have to come in and restrict the right otherwise London would grind to a halt several times a day.
This is more of an easement, in the way that you can drive your car over your neighbours drive in order to get to your parking bay (if the easement is registered to that property) It is still bound by local ordinance, in the Freemen of the City example local traffic laws would apply. Do you pay congestion charge for sheep?

An ordinary right gives you something that the law or more precisely, an agreeing authority should not, without just cause, prevent..
This is how I understand rights.. Laws protect the individual against another person (either legal or natural) rights give a cause of action against the state, the agreeing authority.

In UK, you cannot have an absolute right, as Parliament can make any law regardless of any other law or right or custom, etc. In fairness, Parliament does restrict itself and will not interfere without due cause in proportion to the ‘right’ in question.
Parliament has bound itself to the ECHR with the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), the HRA allows for declarations of incompatibility where primarily legislation seems to infringe rights and parts of legislation can be struck out. This is where there is so much beef about the terrorism acts and right to fair trial. Shami Chakrabarti has a lot to say about this as the government appears to have acted illegally in detaining terror suspects without trial.   

The last lot of ‘rights’ that were granted to us were Human Rights, of which only one, the right not to be tortured, is absolute[1]; the rest are qualified. The public have become outraged at some of the rights granted to thoroughly objectionable criminals and want the rights removed.
 1. It seems that the irony that you can, in certain circumstances, kill someone but you may not torture and release them has been missed.
Are you referring to the Abu Qatada fiasco?. I don't think that it is the rights themselves that are the issue per se. It is the fact that they work in the same way for everyone. The extra territorial application of ECHR has prevented EU citizens from being extradited to face torture on foreign soil, i don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. If the government wants to stop right applying to the “wrong” people then it should legislate to that effect, not remove the rights of the “right” people.

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Lib Dems, had an idea. He put up a website asking what laws people wanted abolishing. The website closed when it was found that people did not want any laws abolished but posted only suggestions for new laws!
Nick Clegg. Facepalm. Sorry, I can't really say anything else about that.

Basically, I am against rights but I am in favour of being allowed to do anything you want unless it is prohibited.
Is this different to ensuring that the state doesn't interfere with you doing something unless it is prohibited?

Offline screwtape

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Re: Rights
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2013, 08:29:09 AM »
What do you think?

I think all those things have something to do with survival.  Each person (and society) has their interpretation, and in their different contexts, they could all have a point.  There is no right answer.  Fw people think of morality in this way.  Most people think it means Good and Evil, Right and Wrong.  And it is influenced by culture.  So in your complex example, everyone could be doing the right thing from their perspective.

Evolutionary psychologist Jonathan Haidt defined morality as the rules that constrain us and bind us into social groups.  And for us, groups are survival.

here are some links to Haidt:
http://edge.org/conversation/a-new-science-of-morality-part-1

http://edge.org/conversation/what-makes-vote-republican
good quote in that one in the intro:
Quote
conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate.
Also from this article, I gather that our ideas of Rights come from what our moral framework is.  We in the US believe free speech, freedom from unreasonable search, privacy are rights because our moral framework is focused on individuals. 
And he presents another wording for his definition of morality:
Quote
morality is any system of interlocking values, practices, institutions, and psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible.

In this one he discusses morality and religion.
http://www.edge.org/conversation/moral-psychology-and-the-misunderstanding-of-religion


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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Rights
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2013, 02:23:48 PM »
A right is a dangerous thing to give out. What you basically say is “One size fits all for all time and for everyone.” which patently untrue.

Rights work as long as everyone does not exercise them or exercises them only with restraint or in necessity and in the spirit in which they were given.

This reminds me of when Don Imus was fired for calling the young women from a college basketball team "nappy headed hos".  Some people were crying about his Right to Freedom of Speech.  But having the right to say something doesn't excuse you from having the common decency not to say it.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Rights
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2013, 04:05:50 PM »
Some people were crying about his Right to Freedom of Speech. 

Whiners.  Free speech does not mean there are no consequences for the things you say.  It means the government may not censor you or punish you for it.  People whom you offend have every right to express their outrage.  And your employers - especially if you are a media figure and they are advertisers - have every right to withdraw their support.
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Rights
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2013, 04:14:35 PM »
I thought firing was unnecessary.  I thought a half hour alone in a room with the fathers of those girls would have been sufficient.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Online Graybeard

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Re: Rights
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2013, 08:52:08 PM »
This is true however the logistical impracticalities of tailoring individual rights to individuals makes any other approach impossible.

This is what I said

Quote
This is why the courts are there to tailor the rights to the individual by interpretation of the right.

1.   In your argument you will go on to say that the courts are bound by exterior powers.
2.   If “rights” are interpreted, do they remain “rights” or is there an attempt at restriction?

Quote
There are rights that attach only to certain persons.
This is more of an easement, […] It is still bound by local ordinance, in the Freemen of the City example local traffic laws would apply.

I cannot see your ‘easement’ parallel at all. The traffic laws do not apply to the Freeman’s right because a right trumps all laws. He/She does it and that’s it. If anyone else does it, they are dragged before a magistrate. It is a “right” as you, below, agree the definition.

Quote
An ordinary right gives you something that the law or more precisely, an agreeing authority should not, without just cause, prevent..
This is how I understand rights..

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In UK, you cannot have an absolute right, as Parliament can make any law regardless of any other law or right or custom, etc. In fairness, Parliament does restrict itself and will not interfere without due cause in proportion to the ‘right’ in question.
Parliament has bound itself to the ECHR with the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA),

No. Withdrawal is possible but it may have to take another step before it can. When I said, “Parliament does restrict itself.” This is so. It, instead, agrees to abide by something on a continuing but not necessarily permanent basis.

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Shami Chakrabarti has a lot to say about this.

Shami ChakrabartiWiki has a lot to say about most things. She is the new “Rent-a-quote”. She is also aware that she would bear no responsibility if her ideas were acted upon. She is, as far as I am aware, unelected.

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The public have become outraged at some of the rights granted to thoroughly objectionable criminals and want the rights removed.
Are you referring to the Abu Qatada fiasco?. I don't think that it is the rights themselves that are the issue per se. It is the fact that they work in the same way for everyone.

So, you agree with the original premise that “one size fits all” is unsatisfactory? Good!

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The extra territorial application of ECHR has prevented EU citizens from being extradited to face torture on foreign soil, i don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. If the government wants to stop right applying to the “wrong” people then it should legislate to that effect, not remove the rights of the “right” people.

I have bolded “on foreign soil” as I think torture is the same wherever it takes place without having to be emotive.

I have also pointed out the inconsistency of execution being OK. I know why torture was made absolute and it has little or nothing to do with humanity.

You obviously see, as I do, that the HRA is defective. You might wish to write some legislation to correct it but the Solicitor General doesn’t seem to think it is as easy as you do.

This is the problem with rights. You know as well as I do that we have here in the UK some US murderers who are free and not likely to face justice. You know that Canada has refused to return a Lebanese torturer to Lebanon for justice. Can this be a human right? Or is "a mess made by defective legislation" that has had, like "the right to bear arms" an unintended consequence?

But more importantly, you simply know that the UK Parliament could have made a better job for the UK than the present mess. There is an election, the public demand something of their representatives and their representatives find themselves all but unable to comply with what they too see as reasonable actions. Is this reasonable?

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Basically, I am against rights but I am in favour of being allowed to do anything you want unless it is prohibited.
Is this different to ensuring that the state doesn't interfere with you doing something unless it is prohibited?
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Yes. A lot different. I’m surprised you ask.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Rights
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2013, 08:46:50 AM »
^^^ I haven't studied the law of civil liberties for the better part of a decade, if you're willing to wait for a while for me to reacquaint myself with this I'll write a coherent answer