You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Human Rights’ tag.

Inspired by a recent conversation with a antediluvian blogger.


A good piece, by John Tasioulas but I’m left wanting more.

“But is it enough to rely on the supposed fact that human rights are embedded in a liberal democratic culture? Or do we need to be able to step back from that culture and offer an objective justification for the principles embedded in it, as the philosophers have long supposed? The problem is that social expectations and cultural assumptions not only vary significantly across societies, but that they are fragile: various forces ranging from globalisation to propaganda can cause them to change dramatically or even wither away. Would rights against gender or racial discrimination disappear if sexist or racist attitudes come to predominate?

The question is not fanciful. Once apparently settled beliefs about the impermissibility of torture or the rights of refugees have recently suffered a backlash. There can be backsliding as well as progress, with no guarantees either way. Social expectations and deep cultural assumptions are no more a sufficient basis for human rights than the law is. There is a fatal contradiction in defending human rights against the rising authoritarianism of a ‘post-truth’ era while simultaneously abandoning the belief that our commitment to those rights is itself grounded in the truth, and being prepared to defend it on that basis.

My own view is that human rights are rooted in the universal interests of human beings, each and every one of whom possesses an equal moral status arising from their common humanity. In other words, in defending human rights, we will need to appeal to the inherent value of being a member of the human species and, in addition, the interests shared by all human beings in things like friendship, knowledge, achievement, play, and so on. And we will need to ask whether these considerations generate duties that are owed to each and every human being. This proposal is hardly uncontroversial. The appeal to the inherent value of humanity will be contested by some as a brute prejudice – a ‘speciesism’ on a par with racism. Similarly, the appeal to universal interests will be contested by those who think that human rights are ultimately about respecting individual freedom regardless of whether it advances the right-holder’s well-being.

Whether I’m right or not, I am convinced that we cannot sustain our commitment to human rights on the cheap, by invoking only the law or the assumptions of our liberal democratic culture. Only a deeper justification can explain why we are right to embody them in the law, or maintain a liberal democratic culture, in the first place. This has precisely been the aim of philosophical defences of human rights from the 12th century up until very recent times. To keep our human rights culture in good order, we cannot avoid engaging with the question of justification.”

Tasioulas has some lofty notions about the universal interests of human beings, I would in argue that the societies in our culture/world systematically devalue the intrinsic worth of individual human beings, whether it be in the pursuit of racist or monetary ends, it leads to the same grim conclusion – your humanity is dependent on what social class you inhabit and the colour of your skin and what sex you are.

Given how the world works, I find it hard to believe that Canada is taking a principled stand on human rights in Saudi Arabia. Western democracies certainly try to own the rhetoric when it comes to democracy, peace, and freedom – but their realpolitik is quite similar to the nations they routinely criticize for being autocratic dictatorships that are terrible to their people.

My skepticism aside, this is the tweet that started the diplomatic furor between Saudi Arabia and Canada:

Well, the powers that be in Saudi Arabia didn’t like that one bit:

“We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” it said.

“Saudi state television later reported that the Education Ministry was coming up with an “urgent plan” to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools to take classes in other countries.”

“Saudi Arabia said it is also freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada and “reserves its right to take further action.” Saudi Arabia is one of Canada’s largest export markets in the region, and some 10 per cent of Canadian crude oil imports come from Saudi Arabia.”

“Of course the major worry for Canada will now be the fate of a $15-billion contract for almost 1,000 light armoured vehicles between the Saudi government and London, Ont.’s General Dynamics. The controversial deal, struck in 2014 and approved in 2016, called for the vehicles to be delivered starting in 2017, but it’s not clear how many have already been sent as Ottawa refuses to release the “commercially confidential” information.”

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reportedly selling off its assets in Canada and will stop buying Canadian wheat and barley, in the latest escalation in the sudden diplomatic dispute between the two countries.”

“The national Saudi Arabian airline, Saudia, said this week that it would suspend all flights between the country and Canada, starting next week.”

[Sources 1, 2, 3, 4]

I think I speak for many Canadian when I say. “WTF just happened here?”.  The Saudi record on human rights isn’t a particularly deep dark secret and to call for a what seems to be a bit of leniency in one specific case doesn’t seem as beyond the pale as the Saudi’s seem to think it is.

Would Canada recall its ambassadors and impose sanctions if Norway made light of our decidedly horrible treatment of our First Nations people?  I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t.  Most likely some diplomatic hand-waves and some impassioned statements about how we’re working hard (we’re not) to improve the lives of all Canadians and then the issues would pass.

What is more intriguing is that despite the Saudi backlash, Canada’s government isn’t backing down:

     Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada isn’t backing down from its position that led to diplomatic sanction from Saudi Arabia.

Freeland made the comments Monday afternoon in Vancouver a day after Saudi Arabia announced it would cease new trade deals with Canada and expel the Canadian ambassador.

“I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position. We are always going to speak up for human rights; we’re always going to speak up for women’s rights; and that is not going to change,” she told a news conference.

“Canadians expect our foreign policy to be driven by and to embody Canadian values, and that is how we intend to continue our foreign policy.”

On Friday, Global Affairs Canada had tweeted, “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.”

This is post is just full of WTF’s.   Freeland seems to be articulating a values based position on a foreign policy issue.  It makes little sense has Saudi Arabia is clearly demonstrating their willingness to go full-trump and punish Canada economically for having the ‘bombast’ to ask them to release a blogger they have detained and are torturing (sorry folks, flogging is torture any way you want to slice it.)

It’s sad that I’m feeling so cynical about this particular story, and continue to look for the angle that the Canadian government is not sharing with the press.  Like, since when do nations actually take ethical stands on any issue these days?  It just isn’t good for business.

I’m going to continue to follow this story folks, because something just isn’t adding up.


Dan Savage on why SSM is a decent, humane institution.


Shutdown this, markets crashing that.  Hey, if the Americans want to self-destruct their country maybe they should start with Guantanamo Bay.

Dead at 31 many thanks, Catholic Church.

I needed some time to digest this story…  Sorry folks but that is a lie.  I needed some time to come back to a (relatively) coherent state before I could write reasonably about what went down with Savita Halappanavar.

A post filled with nothing but white-hot rage and invective against the pustulant ass-pimples known as pro-lifers (anti-choicers, for the sake of veracity) and their equally pustulant,delusion friends, the Catholic Church would serve little purpose other than giving the other side ammunition about how nasty I am (Humourless Feminist, Too Sensitive, Crazy Socialist, Militant Atheist etc…the list is long ).  No, my ninnyhammerd-half-witted friends won’t get the pleasure because in Savita’s case there is nothing for me to add, the absolute horror and immorality of their position is chillingly clear –  and a young woman had to die because of it (and women are dying of it here in North America too).

Let’s just look at how our pro-life catholic friends “helped” Savita Halappanavar – Analysis from Dr. Jen Gunter (I’m referencing Jen’s post to make my point, she does not hold the same opinion as I). [ed. bold text mine]

This is what is known. Savita Halappanavar was 31 years old and happy to be pregnant with her first child. Then, at 17 weeks, tragedy struck and she was “found to be miscarrying.” Her husband reports that she was in “severe pain” for three days at the hospital and a termination was requested. He says this request was denied because Ireland is “a Catholic country.” He and his late wife were led to believe that the law would only allow her to be delivered when there was no fetal heartbeat.

What does the standard of medical care say about this treatment? Without access to the chart, “miscarrying” at 17 weeks can only mean one of three things”

A) Ruptured membranes

B) Advanced cervical dilation

C) Labor (this is unlikely, although it is possible that she had preterm labor that arrested and left her with scenario B, advanced cervical dilation).

All three of these scenarios have a dismal prognosis, none of which should involve the death of the mother

Okay, ground rules set.  There were no mysteries here, the medical playbook is straight forward.

The standard of care with ruptured membranes (scenario A) is to offer termination or, if there is no evidence of infection and the pregnancy is desired, the option of observing for a few days to see if the leak seals over and more fluid accumulates. If no fluid accumulates and by some chance the pregnancy manages to go beyond 24 weeks (the vast majority of pregnancies with ruptured membranes delivery within a week), survival is unlikely given the lungs require amniotic fluid to develop. I have seen the rare case where a woman with no infection (and no fluid) elects conservative management in the hopes that might make it to at least 24 weeks in the pregnancy, however, I have never heard of a baby surviving in this scenario. Regardless, if at any point infection is suspected the treatment is antibiotics and delivery not antibiotics alone.

The standard of care with scenario B involves offering delivery or possibly a rescue cerclage (a stitch around the cervix to try to prevent further dilation and thus delivery) depending on the situation. Inducing delivery (or a D and E) is offered because a cervix that has dilated significantly often leads to labor or an infection as the membranes are now exposed to the vaginal flora. Many women do not want wait for infection. A rescue cerclage is not without risks and is contraindicated with ruptured membranes or any sign of infection. Rescue cerclage is a very case by case intervention and well beyond the scope of this post. These decisions are difficult and the mark of good medical care is that all scenarios are discussed, all interventions that are technically possible offered, and then the patient makes an informed decision. All with the understanding that if infection develops, delivery is indicated.

Medically speaking, Dr.Gunter explains the outcomes of what these religiously addled doctors did, or more specifically did not do.

As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman is miscarrying AND is denied a termination, there can only be three plausible explanations for Ms. Hapappanavar’s “medical care” :

1) Irish law does indeed treat pregnant women as second class citizens and denies them appropriate medical care. The medical team was following the law to avoid criminal prosecution.

2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.

3) Irish law allows abortions for women when medically necessary, but the doctors involved were negligent in that they could not diagnose infection when it was so obviously present, did not know the treatment, or were not competent enough to carry out the treatment.

What we do know is that a young, pregnant, woman who presented to the hospital in a first world country died for want of appropriate medical care. Whether it’s Irish Catholic law or malpractice, only time will tell; however, no answer could possibly ease the pain and suffering of Ms. Halappanavar’s loved ones.

This is what we get when we allow insipid religious prevarication into important parts of our society.  Mythology and magic have no place in secular institutions, not now and not ever.   Yet we still allow the bullshite in despite the injuries, deaths and pain it causes.  Religion poisons everything and everyone it touches and yet Religion is just one head of the hydra that conspired to end Savita’s life.  By now the ironically named “Pro-life” band of fetus fetishists need to take their bows and unsuccessfully try to wipe their bloody hands of this uncomfortable case.

Savita’s death is on their hands because this is what you get when you don’t value women as people and see them only as incubators.  Savita and other women are dying because of the batshite-insane anti-choice nuttery that goes on that somehow makes it okay to take women out of the  pregnancy equation and deny her rights.  So have your prayer vigils, your fetus-porn, your 40 days of fuckwittery –  all so you can feel fucking morally superior(?) when a women like Savita Halappanarvar dies?  Your fetid morality is repugnant and has no place in a civilized society… none whatsoever.

You know what the best tell is from these anti-woman fetus worshipping zealots is?   The absolute fucking silence from the pro-life side of things when details of Savita’s death rang around the world.   The author(s) over at Reasonable Conversation nailed it with this post which I excerpt here. [ed. bold text mine]

The fact of the matter is, these people can only thrive when the deaths are anonymous. The moment we had a name for one of the victims of their horrible and irrational beliefs, they needed to shut up and hide so nobody could ask them if Savita Halappanavar should have died, if it was god’s will, if they should have allowed her to be treated. They can’t answer these questions because the answers they would give would make them look like monsters if they were honest and undermine their message if they lied.   

   This. A thousand times  just this.

This is why we fight for the rights of women because the regressive religiously addled view women as second class citizens not worthy of human rights or treatment.  Your torpid bronze age shenanigans have gone on for much too long and hurt too many people.  Where is the apology from the pope?  Where is the outcry from the anti-choicers?  There is none because they cannot or will not see the monstrous evil of their positions, better to whip up some more fetus porn or get some more red duct tape and pray to your imaginary sky-daddy.

When the consequences of your bullshite come to light the religiously anti-choice zealots scurry away from the light of reason(rule one in the nutter playbook), when the unnamed become named and the travesty of your rotten ethics is bared to light you offer no defense, because there is no defense for your untenable immoral position.

     I see and hear this little piece of dudely wisdom far, FAR, too often.  It represents such an massive break from reality, and yet this harmful trope continues onward.  The usual suspects make their appearances, privilege, misogyny the unexamined life – reasons but not excuses for not being in the know when dealing with the basic issue of should we treat women like human beings.  It should be concise answer.  It almost never is because there inevitably is that lovely word ‘but’ appended to the answer.

Oh yes, women should be treated as human beings, but this Feminism stuff has gone to far.

Yes, women should be treated like human beings, but why all the hate for men why can’t we all just get along?

Yes, but we’re already equal, so what’s the big deal?

The most basic rule when dealing with oppressed classes of people is – shut up and listen.   *You* (privileged while males, for example) do not get make the call on saying when someone is  genuinely oppressed or when their oppression is done, or anything to do with what they are experiencing as a member of that particular oppressed category.  Get over yourself and realize that your opinion has no magical qualities that make it better than those of others, sure it has been the default in society for ages now, but that is changing slowly and will continue to do so whether you are with the program or not.

Feminism is fighting the good fight attempting to make society a better place for women.  Feminism is dealing with the mischaracterizations and stereotypes that hurt women in our society, but the fight is far from over.   I may have already posted this video, but I found the extended trailer of Miss-representation on youtube.   Thank you Sociological Images.

Listen, reflect and take the time to think about what is being postulated.  Enjoy.

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