I know my rights

I have attracted the attention of writeforthemasses, a writer with whom on a couple of points I’m going to have to disagree.

First, on the matter of the US constitution, he proposes a series of ‘rights’ which do not seem to me to be such.

These would be temporary, rescindable entitlements which the people would have to beg to have granted by politicians, not ‘rights’.

They are full of undefined value-judgement terms such as good and adequate which are subject to wide variations in interpretation. For example, a member of the Amish sect, a third-wave feminist and a devout Sunni Muslim would, I suspect, differ rather widely on the meaning of ‘a good education’.

For myself I recognise only two ‘human rights’, which are the making of fire and the use of tools. A few animals use tools, but none also make fire. These two things together set humans apart from animals. Denying them to us reduces us to something less than human. They are our human rights.

‘Tools’ naturally includes ‘weapons’, so of the Amendments to the US Constitution only the Second embodies what I would describe as a ‘human right’.

Second, on the matter of dehumanization, he claims:

A customer walks into a fast food restaurant, at the counter he does not see another human being, he simply sees the servant that is ready to take his order. This is an incredibly dangerous thing…

It might be, were it true, but it isn’t. I try to make a deliberate policy of dealing with other peoples’ employees like this:

Remove hat. Remove shades. Make eye contact. Smile visibly. Speak first, before they can babble out their programmed greetspeak. “Hi, how’s it going?” Anything will do. The message: I’m not one of those; I’ve done crap jobs myself, and we’re all in this together.

It works brilliantly. I never have to pay the fee for topping up my currency card, I sometimes get a worthwhile discount on all kinds of things, and a couple of the supermarket ladies now seem rather fond of me.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Were I as an old writer to be so presumptuous as to advise a younger writer it might be along the lines of performing some experiments before allowing one’s views to be dominated by theory.


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