Tuesday, June 28, 2005

On human rights, Part XII

Okay, so like our president, I've started something that turned out to be far more unpleasant than I'd expected. Unlike our president, however, I have an exit strategy and the determination to see it through to its proper end.
Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

But what does this mean for me?

Despite what the 'wingers might say, we really do all have the right to some basic standard of living. It might not be the Hummer-and-Armani standard, but it's a standard. No one should have to starve, and no one should have to die of an easily curable illness, whether they're employed or unemployed or happily unemployed, whether they're solid good citizens or make poor lifestyle choices. After all, a person who gets him/herself in trouble can hardly get out of it if he/she doesn't live that long.

Also despite some 'winger arguments, everyone has the right to an education - and it's gotta be free. So the whole voucher thing? Forget it. Anything that would require a parent to pay money out-of-pocket for their child to receive any acceptable standard of education is right out. Parents do have the right to choose the kind of education, be it secular or religious or specialized, but they may end up having to do it themselves; the government can't be expected to cater to every single tiny whim with a billion slightly different educational systems.

One caveat? Education is meant to teach respect for human rights - "understanding, tolerance, and friendship." So parents have the right to choose their children's education to the point that they start teaching hatred, intolerance, and ideals contrary to the peaceable goals of the UN. So if you don't want to teach your kid that gay is okay, that's your right, but don't turn him into a bully, either. Tolerance and intolerance each breed more of same, and raising a child full of hatred and violence isn't going to result in a peaceful world.

Just answer the question already.

It means that everyone has a right to the basic necessities of life, including healthcare, food, and education. And it means that an appreciation of human rights is, in itself, a human right.

Part I: The Preamble; Part II: Articles 1 and 2; Part III: Articles 3 and 4; Part IV: Articles 5 and 6; Part V: Articles 7 and 8; Part VI: Articles 9 and 10; Part VII: Articles 11 and 12; Part VIII: Articles 13, 14 and 15; Part IX: Articles 16, 17 and 18; Part X: Articles 19, 20 and 21; Part XI: Articles 22, 23 and 24

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