Human rights and civil rights

July 14th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Got sent a summary of a speech to the NZ Initiative by Australian Commissioner Tim Wilson. He said:

One. Civil rights are not the same as human rights. Civil rights are the gift of citizenship; human rights are universal and exist from birth.

Two. Social justice is not the same as human rights. Social justice is broadly about advancing social and economic equity; human rights are about uncompromisingly protecting the autonomy of the individual and their enterprise.

Three. Anti-discrimination is not a human right. Anti-discrimination is about removing unjust prejudice; whereas, apart from equality before the law, human rights can actually be exercising discrimination, such as free association.

Four. Group rights cannot be human rights. Group rights cannot be universal to every person; human rights can only exist for individuals. “

I like the distinctions he makes.

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32 Responses to “Human rights and civil rights”

  1. mikenmild (11,742 comments) says:

    The distinction between ‘human rights’ and ‘civil rights’ is an artificial one: such things are defined socially.

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  2. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    It sounds like more PC crap. Can’t any bastard stand up for themselves any more?

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  3. flipper (4,214 comments) says:

    Milky…

    Having heard Wilson in person presenting to an audience that would make you blink, and having a personal copy of his full presentation , delivered in the presence of NZ Human Rights Commissioner, David Rutherford, I say you are, as per normal, talking unadulterated CRAP.

    WHEN YOU HAVE READ THE DETAIL, and considered Wilson’s SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS and iconic references, YOU MIGHT LEARN THAT IT IS WISE TO SHUT YOUR PSA driven mouth – AT LEAST UNTIL YOU ARE INFORMED.

    Dumbass!

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  4. flipper (4,214 comments) says:

    Inform yourself before ejaculating IGM. You might be more in agreement than you imagine. :-)

    What Wilson is advocating is the preservation and assertion of individual rights and freedoms that he says are being eroded by Central and Local Govt bullshitters like Milky,.

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  5. Yoza (1,908 comments) says:

    Instead of screaming into the ether, flipper, perhaps you could enlighten us with a brief synopses of how the distinction between ‘human rights’ and ‘civil rights’ is not an artificial one.

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  6. flipper (4,214 comments) says:

    YOZA…
    Ask DPF to post the full presentation. I know he has a copy.

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  7. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Yoza: artificial as in man-made? Pretty screwed there, because I’m fairly sure that without humans there wouldn’t be human rights, so yeah, they’re artificial distinctions.

    But the key is that they are useful distinctions, and they do divide into those rights that can be seen as fundamental across all cultures (and, in general, those rights that are rights for people not to interfere with you – freedoms if you will), and those “rights” that are more cultural in context, and that tend to be “rights” to make other people do things – the right to shelter (i.e. that other people in society should pay for shelter for you), the right not to be discriminated against (i.e. the right that other people in society should interact with you even if they don’t want to). I’m sure there are lots of arguments about which “rights” fall into what category, and for the people who like to push hard on civil rights, I’m sure it’s upsetting.

    Basically what Tim is saying is that the human rights should, most of the time, trump the civil rights. And that when we pass laws that restrict freedom of speech so as to avoid people being offended, we need to be really clear that we’re sure that stopping people from being offended is more important than freedom of speech.

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  8. flipper (4,214 comments) says:

    A taster for Milky and Yoza….

    Wilson’s conclusion…..

    “Controversial or Common Sense?

    ” I consider what I am about to say to be uncontroversial, but apparently it is not.

    • One. Civil rights are not the same as human rights. Civil rights are the gift of citizenship; human rights are universal and exist from birth.

    • Two. Social justice is not the same as human rights. Social justice is broadly about advancing social and economic equity; human rights are about uncompromisingly protecting the autonomy of the individual and their enterprise.

    • Three. Anti-discrimination is not a human right. Anti-discrimination is about removing unjust prejudice; whereas, apart from equality before the law, human rights can actually be exercising discrimination, such as free association.

    • Four. Group rights cannot be human rights. Group rights cannot be universal to every person; human rights can only exist for individuals.

    In practice, universal human rights often conflict with these otherwise worthy aspirations. The four objectives I have outlined are all broadly confused because of the development of treaties under the banner of human rights. But it has been perpetuated through laws in the development of laws in individual countries.

    This was a subject discussed in Richard Epstein’s 1996 paper “Human rights and anti-discrimination legislation” for the former New Zealand Business Roundtable in discussing the New Zealand Human Rights Act. According to Epstein’s criticism of the New Zealand Human Rights Act it did not give proper deference recognising:

    “All individuals are owners of their own selves, and of those resources they can acquire either through original possession or through contract and exchange with other individuals. There is nothing people care about which cannot fall under the class of either labour or property, including the crucial right to associate with other individuals. This gives us a broad definition untroubled by the ambiguity of modern statutes”.

    Epstein argues such an approach:

    “guarantees a degree of formal equality. Formal equality will never guarantee perfect social equality. But it is a dangerous illusion to think we guarantee social equality by a statute which systemically violates the requirements of formal equality”.

    Of course, we should aspire to a society that opposes unjust discrimination against people on the basis of irrelevant factors such as race, age, gender and sexuality.

    There are many reasons for doing so. Challenging unjust discrimination is important for social cohesion. It is important for ensuring that individuals achieve their maximum potential and can contribute the most to the economy and society for their own self-interest, as well as the interests of society-at-large. From a strictly economic focus, unjust discrimination is inefficient and harms business for trivial reasons.

    But there is a big difference between government discriminating, and individuals discriminating against each other.

    Outside of equality before the law, prioritising anti-discrimination undermines the exercise of freedoms.

    The sole purpose of freedom of association is to discriminate in favour of associating with some, and not others. There are also discriminatory functions to property rights and religious worship.

    Similarly, exercising human rights can also be about establishing standards that are voluntarily entered into that the government has no role adjudicating. The hair styles of St Johns’ College students comes to mind. Arguably, using human rights law to decide private disputes trivialises human rights in the eyes of the public.

    Stating these worthy societal goals are not human rights does not mean that are unimportant. It does mean they should not immediately be given the same status when weighting competing priorities.

    The point of human rights is that they are supposed to be sacrosanct principles, not merely aspirations. When everything is a human right, nothing is.

    More importantly, when traditional liberal human rights are compromised, so is the freedom everyone enjoys. “

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  9. Southern Raider (1,831 comments) says:

    Tell that to the western liberals that support Hamas.
    – it is okay to attack a synogogue as happened in Paris today by Hamas supporters. But Israel can’t defend itself
    – it is okay to use human shields and setup up rocket launchers in public areas. But Israel can’t defend itself

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  10. mjw (400 comments) says:

    I like the distinction between human rights and civil rights, but I’m not so keen on the rest which is just playing with words, to my mind. To me, the money question is “what is required to protect the autonomy of the individual.” I think all the arguments stem from different answers to that question.

    We mostly agree that individuals should be autonomous, but disagree over the requirements to achieve that. Some think it needs nothing but the right of exit, others that it requires access to basic health and education, others that it requires non-opression of group characteristics.

    That is the argument we should be having. Not how we define rights, but rather how we ensure autonomy.

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  11. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    flipper: So sorry, didn’t take it all in. Once again I have erred.

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  12. mikenmild (11,742 comments) says:

    flipper
    That tract doesn’t address the distinction between human rights and civil rights other than asserting that there is a distinction.

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  13. flipper (4,214 comments) says:

    IGm… No probs..we all react . :-)

    Milky.., get the full version.
    Ask this delightful young lady for a copy-
    jenesa.jeram@nzinitiative.org.nz

    Until then SHUT T F UP

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  14. mikenmild (11,742 comments) says:

    So you feel unable to recap the argument in a few short words? Must have been quite complicated. Oh, and there’s no need to shout.

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  15. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Southern Raider: Israel is entirely entitled to defend itself. But often Israel defends itself by attacking. That is a much greyer area than, for example, having guards at the synagogue or other police type actions.

    I’m not saying that Israel shouldn’t be allowed to respond to aggression, but there are questions of proportionality, of actually attacking the people who attacked you, the fact that Hamas actively put their members amongst civilians to guarantee civilian deaths in any retaliation etc etc. It’s not cut and dried, and you painting it that way just makes it look like you have only a shallow understanding of the complexity.

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  16. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @mjw: he’s basically saying all those other things aren’t human rights. I think you’re agreeing with him. But Tim lives in the real world where those other things are something, even if they’re not human rights. Whereas I think you’re living in a world where you can ignore the fact that a significant proportion of the population think that the govt should do something in those areas too. When the right choose not to engage in a discussion of what that something is, then we allow the left to design it.

    I think he’s doing a good job, and in Australia it’s a serious breath of fresh air to have a human rights commissioner who doesn’t spend their time doing things like co-ordinating a boycott of a department store because their CEO disagreed with a government (Labor) policy. One who is focused on, first and always, making sure the core human rights are protected and not whittled away in the name of some other nebulous concepts.

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  17. hj (7,066 comments) says:

    mikenmild (10,452 comments) says:
    July 14th, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    The distinction between ‘human rights’ and ‘civil rights’ is an artificial one: such things are defined socially.
    …….
    Agree.
    Norms change in different circumstance eg the crew of the Essex drew lots to see who was going to be lunch when a whale sunk their ship.

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  18. hj (7,066 comments) says:

    Flipper Says:

    “All individuals are owners of their own selves, and of those resources they can acquire either through original possession or through contract and exchange with other individuals. There is nothing people care about which cannot fall under the class of either labour or property, including the crucial right to associate with other individuals. This gives us a broad definition untroubled by the ambiguity of modern statutes”.
    ……….
    John Stuart Mill

    “When the sacredness of property is talked of, it should always be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property. No man made the land: it is the inheritance of the whole species.”

    “The land of Ireland, the land of every country, belongs to the people of that country.”

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  19. hj (7,066 comments) says:

    “The land of Ireland, the land of every country, belongs to the people of that country.” John Stuart Mill

    The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict
    How did land ownership traditionally work in Palestine and when did it change?

    “[The Ottoman Land Code of 1858] required the registration in the name of individual owners of agricultural land, most of which had never previously been registered and which had formerly been treated according to traditional forms of land tenure, in the hill areas of Palestine generally masha’a, or communal usufruct. The new law meant that for the first time a peasant could be deprived not of title to his land, which he had rarely held before, but rather of the right to live on it, cultivate it and pass it on to his heirs, which had formerly been inalienable…Under the provisions of the 1858 law, communal rights of tenure were often ignored…Instead, members of the upper classes, adept at manipulating or circumventing the legal process, registered large areas of land as theirs…The fellahin [peasants] naturally considered the land to be theirs, and often discovered that they had ceased to be the legal owners only when the land was sold to Jewish settlers by an absentee landlord…Not only was the land being purchased; its Arab cultivators were being dispossessed and replaced by foreigners who had overt political objectives in Palestine.” Rashid Khalidi, “Blaming The Victims,” ed. Said and Hitchens”

    http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

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  20. flipper (4,214 comments) says:

    HJ…

    You are an esoteric, delusional, ARSE HOLE.

    Am I pissed off?
    Yes, with the fact that you kneejerk, instead of reading, and getting the full paper.

    I quoted Wilson who incidentally quotes Mill and many others who know a bloody sight more about this issue than you will if you live for the next 100 years . His an analysis is superb.

    But for you, situation normal….. dumbass status confirmed.

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  21. mikenmild (11,742 comments) says:

    Yes naughty hj. Fancy quoting one of the founders of modern liberalism to rebut Wilson’s splendid argument. For shame!

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  22. Yoza (1,908 comments) says:

    Does Tim Wilson’s enthusiasm for the “…traditional liberal human right…” of free speech extend to public servants criticising the Abbott government?

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  23. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @mikenmild: yeah, but only in relation to “landed property.” Care to engage with the main body of the argument, namely the ownership of yourself, and such other property as you might have owned?

    In relation specifically to land, most countries have a property system that gives people rights over land they purchase from “the people” (meaning ultimately that they own through the govt agreeing they own it). I’m not sure that’s crucial to a discussion over human rights though, I haven’t heard of a human right to own land, other than that where you are able to purchase property (not always meaning land) you have a right to continued possession of that (i.e. people shouldn’t steal your stuff).

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  24. Southern Raider (1,831 comments) says:

    PaulL why should Israel be put in handcuffs by the international community when defending their county and people.

    So it is okay that Jews should continue to have to hire security guards for synagogues because Muslims won’t comply with western laws and live in peace with everyone else?

    Have you not heard the saying “if Hamas laid down their arms there would be peace in the Middle East. If Israel laid down their arms there would be no Israel”

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  25. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Southern Raider: same reason that people have alarms on their houses. Surely the thieves should stop committing crimes rather than me needing to install an alarm. I’m not disputing that someone who attacks a synagogue is a criminal. But no country in the world permits pre-emptive strikes against someone you suspect may be plotting to rob your house. There are limits on all civilised nations.

    I think the real problem here is that Israel actually aspires to be a civilised nation (and, in general terms, is one). So it needs to abide by the rules of a civilised nation. Unfortunately I see little evidence at the moment that Hamas aspires to create a civilised nation, and so they seem to feel free to break all the rules. But the same way that the USA weren’t right when they decided to start torturing people, Israel cannot just decide to drop the trappings of being a civilised country. In doing so you lose what you wanted to be.

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  26. Fletch (6,494 comments) says:

    “Social Justice” was/is a Catholic term and has been co-opted somewhat by the liberals to mean something other than what it used to mean.

    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/social-justice-isn%E2%80%99t-left-or-right

    http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/social-justice-not-what-you-think-it-is

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  27. Ed Snack (1,927 comments) says:

    Agreed, “Social Justice” shares merely the name with Justice; it is primarily used as an instrument of profound injustice and the advancement of totalitarean aims.

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  28. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    human rights are universal and exist from birth.

    Universal among humans, not universal among people. Human rights are fictions.

    person: … A human being considered as capable of having rights and or being charged with duties, while a “thing” is the object over which rights may be exercised. (Black’s 2nd (1910))

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  29. hj (7,066 comments) says:

    Tom Paine

    Man, in a natural state, subsisting by hunting, requires ten times the quantity of land
    to range over, to procure himself sustenance, than would support him in a civilized
    state, where the earth is cultivated…. [B]ut it is nevertheless true, that it is the value
    of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every
    proprietor therefore of cultivated land, owes to the community a ground-rent…

    http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/politics/papers/…/McLean%20Land%20tax.pdf

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  30. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Re Tom Paine:

    The author presents the view that the existence of the state is the only alternative to the hunter-gathered society. This is misleading, since the state is not essential for society, and people have the ability to achieve the efficiencies of specialization without it.

    The state is not an essential part of society, rather it is a source of corruption and oppression.

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  31. hj (7,066 comments) says:

    Surely you need a state to arbiter between groups or one will eventually obliterate the others interests?

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  32. hj (7,066 comments) says:

    Brian Gaynor

    Beware the bogus claims

    By Brian Gaynor

    Investment

    “A favourite strategy of the Business Roundtable is to bring well-known overseas academics to New Zealand who have similar views to the business lobby group.

    The main objective is for the visitor to receive plenty of publicity and to meet the country’s important decision makers, including government ministers. Minimal publicity is given to the Roundtable’s sponsorship of these visits.

    A regular visitor under this scheme is Professor Richard Epstein, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago.”
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sharemarket/news/article.cfm?c_id=316&objectid=5261

    I see the plan. Regulations reduce the value of land by 80%. The law of torts and nuisance should replace the RMA (even though the wealthy resident’s of Portland are finding they can do bugger all when the villas are bowled etc). A developers dream.
    https://www.businessnz.org.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/74717/A-Primer-on-Property-Rights,-Takings-and-Compensation.pdf

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