Friday, 28 January 2011

Human Rights or Wrongs? Part 1

Right then boys and girls, a quickie for you all before I go native. No, as you may imagine from my latest, I am not converting, merely assuming the state for a while. Work is sending me off to the back of beyond, which it turns out is even more remote than deepest, darkest, from where I have been keeping both of you occupied these last two weeks. Yes, I am going away from internet signal. Before you ask (they never ask, sigh) I'm not off to Egypt in search of the mythical internet circuit breaker. No, I know my limits; I've seen the Temple of Doom. If that's what Johnny Foreigner does to defend the recipe for monkey brain soup, I have no desire to search for the secret broadband on/off switch. I am no Indiana Jones, though I think I look quite dashing in a hat/stubble combo. Not great with a whip or hieroglyphics though, so I'll just amble out into the desert to where I am told and be done with it.

So a couple of clues so far. It might be something to do with human rights. Yes. It might be the first of many. Yes, if by many you mean two. The cunning lead-in point from current affairs is the demobilisation of 'the internet' (I have no idea how this might happen - I have to pay a 12 year old to log me on to this site) by the Egyptian Government in an attempt to disrupt the command and communication set-up of the rioters. Yes.

Now these are obviously organised rioters, an oxymoronic state to be in if ever I heard one, because I thought the idea of rioting was anarchy, which is no comfortable bedfellow of organisation. However, it turns out in the modern world, we all have to make sacrifices. So to protest at state control and a surveillance society we post all our most intimate details, photos and inside leg measurements on public forums, and then use said forums/repositories of intelligence to organise stands against 'the man'. As they say, if you're not confused, you haven't totally understood what's going on.

Anyway, that wasn't really my point, just a lead-in that got away. My point was since when did your human rights include access to the internet? Now I will say some more things, probably less flippantly about human rights and the general utopian bilge than spouts from the European Court of Human Rights, but today is just a taster. I might even do a little research in the meantime. But for now…

'Human Rights' as a concept that is as old as the hills. Read a little of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics and you see people were concerned with the proper conduct of man well before there were British milkmen, let alone their twinkling eyes. And these are just the first lot who wrote any of it down that we could find (though that may do a little disservice to Aristotle, Plato and pals). My point is that human rights has evolved over many hundreds of years, but is essentially a study in how man should treat man. It is about ethics - as fascinating and deeply important subject as one who is interested in the progression of mankind could hope to find.

However, it has become a dirty thing in the modern world - the last refuge of the guilty man. This I shall come onto in another post, but the more astute of you probably know where I am going with it. Rights, as I have blogged about many times before, are now ten-a-penny apparently (here for example). Human rights should be a representation of how man should treat each other in the most basic way. We are talking rights to liberty, life, involvement in the rule of law which governs his way of life, freedom from tyranny. Essentially, all the good stuff you see the heroes of the downtrodden valiantly fighting for against the evil, oppressive powers in the epic films. Whichever philosopher's bandwagon you jump onto - Hume's, Locke's, Aristotle's, Kant's, you are signing up to a basic philosophy of human rights. What it has evolved into is the product of arrogant but ignorant men extrapolating the works of geniuses.

The situation now: A mobile phone is a human right. Or even a 'basic human right'. So is access to the internet. These are the big two I'm going to focus on because a) it is late and I want to go bedwards, and b) they are wonderfully typical of the distortion of a once noble cause. So, get you seeing how this is all pump, and I get to go to bed safe in the knowledge you realise all the other new world 'rights' are a load of old hoopla too.

Now the push for this lunacy is unfortunately widespread. 4 out of 5 of us morons (the human race, of rights fame) apparently think internet access is a human right. Check this article out if you don't believe me (I know you didn't all vote, but it was a pretty big straw poll - here). The UN reckons it is. France's High Court agrees. The list goes on. In justifying this madness the perhaps biased Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union commented "the right to communicate cannot be ignored". No - good point Dr Flawed Logic. The basic human right you are thinking of is the right to free speech, not the right to 2 megabyte streaming porno. It is rather like thinking the right to freedom of movement is giving everyone a G6 (it's a pretty big, expensive plane) to maximise their movement, and when reading the Constitution of the United States' granting of man's right of the pursuit of happiness thinking that he can therefore rape, pillage and inject heroine into his retinas as long as it makes him happy.

So, before I go any further on human rights, we need to go backwards. Too much balderdash is spewed in the name of human rights by people who are as far from understanding the concept of a basic human right as Our Tony is from understanding he might have been wrong once or twice when in office. Human rights are not dependent on the enrichment or development of technology in society - they are about the basic codification of moral behaviour. Rights are life, love and liberty, not BT broadband, flat screen TVs and more kids than a kangaroo breeding facility. Human wrongs… I'm just getting started.

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