Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Your Right to Shut Up

I could link all over the place, but I'm not going to. But I agree in principle with Chet, John, Dawg, Adam etc. that the TTC has the right to strike.

I also agree with many on the right that the Human Rights Commission is overreaching and is an impediment to free expression and free speech.

However.

I very strongly believe that Rights come with obligations.

You have the Right to Strike to address employment grievances, but you do not have the right to engage in frivolous work stoppages (remains to be seen in the TTC case).

You have the Right to Free Speech, but you do not have the right to be a racial bigot.

You have the Right to Freedom of association, but you do not have the right to incite a mob to violence.

When we abuse these rights, people quite understandably want to put limits on those rights. Sometimes those limits are appropriate, oftentimes not. The hardest aspect about limiting rights (a la CHRC, or back-to-work legislation) is finding that balance. It would ideally be better to let that balance be found naturally, to trust the self-restraint of the individual, to believe they will act in good faith and in the best interest of societies.

But people are foolish, selfish, greedy individuals at times, who let self-preservation or righteous indignation override common sense.

Remember, you may have the Right to Free Speech but you have an obligation to Shut the Hell Up.

You have the Right to Strike, but you have the obligation to negotiate .

You have the Right to Associate, but you have the obligation to walk away.

Our society needs to start focusing on the Obligations that go with Rights, before we fritter them all away in frivolous exercises of self-interest. Otherwise those Rights will be chipped away, and the obligations will become our new Rights.

1 comment:

Ken Breadner said...

Oh, bravo.
Or am I just saying that because you lifted it almost verbatim out of mine own head?