August 06, 2006

Media : Civil and Human Rights

Another day, another article where these two differing terms are used as synonyms.

Human Rights are rights which result simply from status as a human. They are free, and apply regardless of citizenship or argueably age. In fact, human rights can not be earned, given, limited, or revoked. They can only be recognized or (in the case of abusive governments) infringed. Human rights usually consist of understood common law, and as a result aren't given much attention -- since everyone knows about them, they're not debated or discussed.
Which human rights are recognized depends greatly on location and politics, but examples include the right to freedom of speech, or the right to self-defense.

Civil Rights are rights that are given by the government to inhabitants, as part of an understood or signed social contract. Typically this only includes citizens, although some other legal inhabitants are given similar social contracts. Civil rights are naturally limited : while you have the right to vote, you only have the right to vote once for a specific election issue, and can be required to register beforehand. While you have the right to not be discriminated against at a job due to race, gender, or other attributes, this right does not extend to those who have violated their social contract in the past.

Those who intentionally confuse civil and human rights do so in order to reduce the understood value of human rights. An attentive reader will note that such people often discuss how the Constitution gives rights stated in the 1st or 2nd Amendment.

Possible reasons, such as to turn all human rights given by nature and the human mind into civil rights dependant on the government, are not very pleasant to think about.


Post a Comment

<< Home