Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back

Daylight Atheism, one of my two favorite blogs in the world, recently posted an article about the events surrounding Johann Hari's criticism of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, itself a response to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The summary of events over on Daylight Atheism is excellent, and I will refer you there if you are not yet aware of the matter - it's a quick read, and very informative.

My intention with this post is to bring further attention to the matter, and encourage you, the General Reader, to speak out on this subject.  Just so we're perfectly clear on what's at stake here, let me point out that the UN has basically caved to pressure from Muslim nations, as nations have previously caved to pressure from Muslim fanatics, and made it explicitly verboten to address human rights violations carried out by Muslims in accordance with shariah law.  As I wrote in a letter to my congressperson today,
As a student of philosophy, and more generally as a human being, I cannot understand what bearing the beliefs of an individual have upon the justice of that individual's conduct towards others.  Is a rape not a rape, is a murder not a murder, is bigotry not bigotry, simply by virtue of the god worshiped by the perpetrator?  I think not.  I should hope you agree with me that for all to have equal rights, all must be subject to the same laws, regardless of race, sex, or creed.  The Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights is, put bluntly, antithetical to this basic egalitarian idea.
I would hate to take an apocalyptic tenor unnecessarily, but it does seem that what hope we have had of protecting the rights of individuals from the superstitions of others is being threatened.  While neither the UN nor any individual nation enjoy the status of perfection, this development is most certainly a step in the absolutely wrong direction, and we must do what we can to set it right.  As individual citizens, we may not be able to participate directly in the policymaking discussions that shape these events - but we can make our voices heard nonetheless.  If you live in the USA, then take ten minutes to write your congressperson.  Get up ten minutes earlier, or stay up ten minutes later, whatever suits you.  Like voting, writing to a representative is one of those civic duties that works better when more people participate.

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