I don’t know whether it’s just me but sometimes I might hear something and it sits with me for a while until either something else replaces it within my thought bank or I investigate it further.
I was awake one night watching TV in bed when I observed a programme discussing the state of the present legal system in the UK. One particular guest stated; “if we have responsibilities, then we must have the right”. For me this was like a light bulb moment.
These two words ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ should have an obvious connection. They should be united in their meanings. But they have not been allowed to be. They have a divorce forced upon them with both parties unwilling to separate.
The word ‘rights’ has, and is, often misused and often taken for granted.
A dictionary definition of rights states;
plural noun: rights
that which is morally correct, just, or honourable.
“she doesn’t understand the difference between right and wrong”
synonyms: goodness, rightness, righteousness, virtue, virtuousness, integrity, rectitude, uprightness, principle, propriety, morality, truth, truthfulness, honesty, honour, honourableness, justice, justness, fairness, equity, equitableness, impartiality; More
“the difference between right and wrong”
a moral or legal entitlement to have or do something.
“she had every right to be angry”
synonyms: entitlement, prerogative, privilege, advantage, due, birthright, liberty, authority, authorization, power, licence, permission, dispensation, leave, consent, warrant, charter, franchise, sanction, exemption, immunity, indemnity;
There is significant disagreement about what is meant precisely by the term ‘rights’. It has been used by different groups and thinkers for different purposes, over different periods of time. Very often with different and sometimes opposing definitions. The precise definition of this principle, beyond having something to do with normative rules of some sort or another, is controversial.
Rights verses Rights
Natural rights are rights which are deemed to be ‘natural’ in the sense of not being artificial or not man-made. In effect these are rights deriving from human nature or from the edicts of a god. For example, it has been argued that humans have a natural right to life. These are, in my view, moral rights or absolute rights that no state can dictate to or interfere with.
In contrast, legal rights, are based on a society’s customs, laws and statutes. An example of a legal right is the right to vote. Citizenship, itself, is often considered as the basis for having legal rights. Legal rights are sometimes called civil rights or statutory rights and are culturally and politically relative since they depend on a specific common framework to have meaning.
Throughout time thinkers have seen rights in only one sense while others accept that both senses have a measure of validity. There has been considerable debate about these senses throughout history. For example, Jeremy Bentham (15 February 1748 – 6 June 1832) believed that legal rights were at the heart of rights, and he denied the existence of natural rights. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), however, argued that rights claimed by positive law but not grounded in natural law were not properly rights at all, but only a facade or pretence of rights.
It is my right…. but it is wrong
As I see it, therefore, the general populace is still shrouded in confusion when they discuss ‘their rights’. Time and again I have heard people state it is there right to wear whatever they want or to do whatever they wish. But this may be contrary to the rights of others who may see this as offensive or just downright wrong. For example, I disagree with blood sports of any kind – it is my right to have this view – but it would be wrong for me to force my opinions on others who disagree. It is the role of law for this to change if it is to be considered as an absolute wrong. And I would like to think that a majority of the human population would take and accept this stance.
My argument is also supported by the concept of the ‘Human Rights Act 1998’. Indeed, the very title claims to the right of humans but it is only reinforced by manmade laws contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. Which in turn is not a natural right at all but man-made decisions. What also bothers me about this title is the presumption by the majority of people is that they consider that they are free to do what ever they want under the protection of this said act. I wonder how many people who scream about ‘their human rights’ have actually read the document? I consider not many have.
I like the word responsibility. It has a feeling of ‘duty’ or ‘liability’ about it. Put simply, it is my responsibility as a father to clothe, feed and educate my children. I also have a responsibility to drive my car without recklessness or dangerously. Of course, these responsibilities are enshrined in law (Tort) but that is protect those of whom come into contact with and not to protect myself.
In essence, and I hope you agree, having ‘responsibility’ is to hold a duty or obligation.
The dictionary definition holds that;
“…the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management.”
In an ideal world I would love each and every one of us to know with some certainty that our rights and responsibilities are equal and firmly married. But, alas, they are not.
For those of whom govern, having these two concepts together would fly in the face of state control. And so the myth has been able to perpetuate. As a father I know about my responsibilities (as previously stated) but the law does not protect my right as a father to equal access to the children. I can give so many examples where this is so. Yet, I am expected to carry out my duty (responsibility) without the protection of the law. There is just an assumption and assumption is not a protection in law.
But let me look at this a little further. The average man is allowed to live freely within his home. But his partner abuses him. He has the right to leave but cannot expect the protection he requires as of his assumed right. And why is this? Well it now transpires that the police and the CPS will not protect your right to equality in the law because your rights are compromised by their inefficiency, corruption and selectiveness of evidence to prove the truth. Yes, the abused man has a responsibility to not hit back or counter assault; but he does not have the right to equal protection from wrongful arrest or to be protected equally. There is no equality in law, there is no equality in refuge and there is no equality to the rights to our children. Yet we must always maintain our responsibilities.
I am happy to uphold my responsibilities. It offers a sense of duty and protection. This concept of responsibility also protects me in my daily existence. But alas, it doesn’t protect me from an abusive partner because I don’t hold the right to protection. It is just assumed it is there until I need it. And for so many it isn’t there. It just doesn’t exist.
For those of whom have followed my blogs you will have probably noticed a bit of a shift in my focus.
As I write this I am satisfied that from the outset I knew this blog would become organic and grow. At the beginning I talked about what happened to me and this flowed into anger directed at my abusive ex.
From my perception I consider that I got over her a while ago, but my new focus is the corruption and failings of a system that not only failed me (and many others) but also protected the abuser. As I have stated numerous times before she had a history of abuse and was, time after time, able to get away with it. But, even with her history she is still protected by what she knows to be a failing in the system to protect victims. Thus, promote abuse within the home. The rhetoric of protecting victims does not stand up to simple scrutiny.
We have known from reading recent news articles that time and again both the police and CPS have failed to disclose evidence and facts. Therefore, how is the right to liberty and equality guaranteed in a so called civilised society, when this simple belief is chosen to be ignored?
In essence, rights and responsibilities translate as, it is our responsibility to do what is perceived as being decent and respectable, yet we cannot expect the right of protection regardless of how it is flowered up to desperate victim.