Human Rights? Or merely temporary human privileges?

Ostensibly, this is supposed to be a cycling and/or skiing related blog … but over the years it has certainly developed into so much more … and for those of you who continue to come back and read my scribbles, I am grateful for your indulgence.

It’s 9 months until the actual 60th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but as we in the United States approach our upcoming Presidential election, maybe it’s time to re-examine this document … and then count how many of the enumerated rights we as Americans actually have?

Are they truly rights, or are they, as George Carlin pointed out on his recent HBO special, merely temporary human privileges, which can be granted, and yet also revoked by a government?

In case you really have problems, think about World War II, during which about 120,000 people of Japanese descent, of which about 72,0000 were American citizens, were forcefully relocated from cities along the West Coast and placed into remote desert internment camps.

Okay, so that was 1942, before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified by the members of the United Nations … so how’s this for a few examples?

Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Shall we discuss waterboarding?

    Article 9.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • How about Gitmo?

    And here’s one of my favorites:

    Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • And yet, the current administration has continually curtailed citizens’ rights to privacy, resorting to warrantless domestic wiretaps.

    An aphorism, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin states: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    Think about it. What do you want your future to look like?