The Human rights starter for ten.

(15 Posts)
Leithlurker Mon 02-Jul-12 21:32:31

I thought we might have and since I am first to post in this shiny new topic I can impose my right not to offend or annoy anyone, by having a general thread about human rights.

Perhaps why human rights rather than Equal rights? What rights should we on this part of mumsnet offer to others in order to stop this thread going the way of certain others?

I will start, by offering an observation about human rights over Equality: Disabled people in the 80's fought campaigns for equality, equal access to transport, shops, employment etc. In some respects it was successful, certainly we gained legal backing, and yes in general like the experience of women we find our place in society less chocked full of barriers. However what we also found was that it has done nothing to raise the status of those with that label, we are more likely to be unemployed, more likely to be poor, and much more likely to be held to double standards of saints for triumphing over tragedy, or sinners for not being like the saints and refusing to stop incontinently pointing out that our life's are still shit.

A school of thought exists that in the 80's we should have fought for human rights and not equality as equality does not confer with it the notion of a valuable contribution to our family and community that the human rights do.

Sorry bit long winded, wine and nibbles available but please do bring your own.

TheMysteryCat Mon 02-Jul-12 22:06:47

Evening! so glad to have this section. I can offer some wine smile

i find "equality" a very loaded term, often perceived to mean "exactly the same", which is problematic in lots of areas. Equality of Opportunity is somewhat better, but a bit of a mouthful!

"Human Rights" does sound better, but I fear it's already been hijacked by Daily Fail types who loathe the HRA and all it stands for.

But then all attempts at categorisation give rise to becoming steroetyped or misunderstood...

ImaCleverClogs Mon 02-Jul-12 22:15:29

Yes we aren't all equal, nor would we want to be.

Human rights is more like acknowleging difference and encouraging respect.

ThePan Mon 02-Jul-12 22:19:39

Enjoyed your acceptance speech Leith. Very...erm...moving. grin

I've not bothered about labels, tho' 'Equalities' does for some people mean 'the same', yes Mystery, though I recall Equal Opps being misconstrued as well in it's day - obv they mean everyone is treated differently, yes?
I have a small cache of issues to share and seek some views. eg at the moment examining why there are sooo many attacks on Jewish people in the city where I work, yet hardly anyone ever gets nicked for them. The answer could be quite multi-layered, but informative as to how some sections of society are treated quite differently in a bad way.

Leithlurker Mon 02-Jul-12 22:30:51

I would hope we could by talking about human rights and equality, reclaim them. I agree with you mystery cat, I think Human Rights has been damaged by Fail readers who think it's all about prisoners voting rights and immigration. In the disabled community we have had OUR language of main streaming and Person Centred planning have become subverted to reduce our power and our ability to control our lives.

EclecticShock Tue 03-Jul-12 08:08:05

Very excited about this new board smile. Going to mull over your OP for a while.

ScroobiousPip Tue 03-Jul-12 09:13:31

Great first post, leith!

I think both labels have their problems. I agree that the HR label has suffered at the hands of the DM and their ill while equality is misconstrued by many as meaning 'the same' and is incorrectly seen as some newfangled leftist communist plot.

What I would love to see is a positive HR list - all the things that have been achieved via HR campaigning and litigation. I think there would be a lot more positives than negatives.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 09:32:02

The equality thing has always bothered me. We are all different, we all offer what we can and should be able to take what we need. Difference is ok and needs to be accepted. Equality of opportunity is important of course but to not recognise that we don't all start from the same place isn't right.

Hi all!

I'm so excited about our shiny new thread! smile

I'm not from the UK, so my take on human rights v equality is a bit different (although I did live in the UK for many years so I'm aware, for example, of the Daily Fail's constant attacks on the HRA)

I think invoking 'human rights' instead of equality can be very powerful. To me, human rights is not attached to legalities and policies necessarily, but is more about the recognition that everyone has certain fundamental needs that should be met by their community and their government. Equality is embedded within that, in the sense that everyone's needs are recognised and respected.

Essentially, it doesn't matter what the DM or anyone else thinks about human rights, because we all have them and no one can take them away. If the label has been tarnished, then surely we need to reclaim it?

TheMysteryCat Tue 03-Jul-12 12:09:37

I've been pondering this a little more. I think one of the barriers in Western society and more specifically the UK and the US is the rise in conservative libertarianism. Boiled down, it seems to me the worst of the "I'm alright, Jack" type of mentality and takes away from social responsibility and fostering community.

Social responsibility and empathy are key to HR (for me), they encourage supporting people, enabling people and a collective base of what is the bare minimum of acceptable.

Of course, there are variations on what are minimum living conditions (for example) in a first world country as compared to a third world country, but it saddens me that because poverty is so endemic in some countries, our "luxuries" are unachieveable for huge swathes of the global population.

But, to bring it back round to libertarianism, I believe in an active and engaged democratic government who do provide facilities and resources for a whole range of society's members to use, enjoy and learn from, but part of the quid pro quo of having it is understanding that at one end, some will abuse it and at the other some people will use what they don't need.

I don't believe that (especially given how poor social mobility is in the UK) that remvoing these services will do anything other than push people to the fringes of society and infringe on basic human rights - such as the right to food and water and the right to shelter.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 13:08:06

My main problem with libertarianism is that is assumes we start from the same point when clearly we do not. There is also some notion that it is all a meritocracy and you just have to 'want' something enough. Simply not true.

TheMysteryCat Tue 03-Jul-12 13:12:01

agreed HotheadPaisan

Is this imagined level playing field a product of out society though, or where does it come from?

Leithlurker Tue 03-Jul-12 15:47:24

I agree with the analysis that libertarianism has to some extent been the root of the problem. It has encouraged neo liberalism which as we see from todays news has ruined most of the economies of the western world.

Marx talked about the rich being made so by the sweat of the workers. Is this is? Is the fact that we seem to need to have winners and losers the issue? If we valued everyone but not equally so we still had rich and poor would some kind of "cap" to say that no one can have over 10 million of assets, whilst no one should be paid any less than min wage no matter what country they are in work?

This is just a stream on not very conscious consciousness, sorry for rambling. I do think though, and again I apologise to any one I offend that the middle classes are the most self entitled and interested group and as such are probably the ones that will have to make the major adjustment. In terms of aspiration, nice house, nice holiday, security of position in life etc. I kniw many have had this change forced on them already but it is deeper it is about accepting that the aspirations of middle class are at fault. As someone said earlier the "I am alright Jack" thing.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 15:50:38

Don't the top 1% own 90% of the wealth or something?

EclecticShock Tue 03-Jul-12 19:49:26

I agree with the premise that equality law, doesn't necessarily mean equality... I agree we still have big issues with how people with disabilities are viewed in this country and I feel it's mainly due to a lack of mainstream education. I think something needs to be done culturally not just legally. Laws enforce but culture encourages.

One particular area that is difficult to resolve is invisible disabilities. I think this can only helped by a more wide spread tolerance of people in general. Very idealist I know but I don't see why our education system cannot contribute towards this at all levels. Sure, we are a competing species but we also have the sentient gift of empathy and the ability to reflect on our behaviour and change it for the better.

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