Human Rights: a reminder

I’ve had this sitting on the back burner for a while but I think it’s worth publishing today — given John Howard’s outrageous War on Indigenous Unpleasantness. Please read (or at least skim) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the newly-formed United Nations in 1948. After the bloodshed of the Second World War, virtually every nation on the planet understood that these values were What It Was All About.

To emphasize the key themes, I’ve used TagCrowd to make a tag cloud of the Declaration. Note, Gentle Reader, the most-repeated word of all: everyone.

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Now you can perhaps argue about the details. P J O’Rourke, for example, reckons:

All men are created equal. We hold this truth to the self-evident, which on the face of it is so wildly untrue. Equality is the foundation of liberal democracy, rule of law, a free society, and everything that the reader, if he or she is sane, cherishes. But are we all equal because we all showed up? It does not work that way at weddings or funerals. Are we all equal because it says so in the American Declaration of Independence, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Each of these documents contains plenty of half-truths and nontruths as well. The UN proclaims, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours.” I’ll have my wife inform the baby.

High-minded screeds cobbled together by unrepresentative and, in some cases, slightly deranged members of the intelligentsia are not scripture. Anyway, to see what a scripture-based polity gets for a social system we have only to look at the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Puritans in Massachusetts.

But the core words stand out so brightly in that TagCloud. And those core words are being ignored by John Howard’s cynical intervention.

Perhaps you should ask your local MP why so few of them have been enshrined in Australian law and what they, personally, have done about that.

If they’re a Coalition MP, perhaps you should ask them why they’re being party to such a disgusting, heavy-handed approach to what is, yes, a major problem — but a problem which has been sitting there for the entire time they’ve been in government.

Production Note

TagCrowd has already removed common stop words like “the” and “of”. I’ve added a few more so the focus is on the content not the structure: “against”, “article”, “declaration”, “forth”, “held”, “including”, “nor”, “proclaimed”, “promote”, “shall” and “whereas”.

I’ve added a bunch of words to that list to remove things which are about the structure of the Declaration rather than the content, such as “whereas”.

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