When inalienable rights aren’t

It’s the exception that proves the rule is one of the more profound of expressions. Often misinterpreted. Replace ‘proves’ with its synonym ‘tests’, and its meaning becomes clear.  It means, as Catallaxy readers would know, that if the rule breaks down in exceptional circumstances, then it isn’t a rule at all. It has a Popperian quality. It only needs one contradictory event to undo a theory or a rule.

We have Covid, the exceptional circumstance. The rule in this case is that our freedoms are inalienable and protected by our representative and democratic governing principles and practices. Well, how well has that rule stood up? We now know, there is no such rule. Our inalienable rights (e.g., to meet with our friends and family, to assemble, to earn a living, to eat out, to travel) are privileges dispensed by state premiers and their public health apparatchiks. Sure, they can be restored. But can we never again describe them as rights. We have ceded them to executive government.

Like standover men, governments allow you to go about your business for a price. Those choosing to be unvaccinated will soon find out. Think of dissidents in North Korea, in China, in Afghanistan for a parallel. OK you won’t lose your head, but your life will be made miserable.

18 thoughts on “When inalienable rights aren’t”

  1. We have ceded them to executive government.

    Not exactly.

    Inalienable human rights were always poorly prtoected in Australia without a Bill of Rights.

    Neither the Constitution nor common law were ever up to the job alone.

    And the various attempts to codify international human rights obligations (e.g. the ICCPR) into domestic law have been manifestly shown to be inadequate during this crisis of our polity.

    The real problem is that our elected representatives at the state level ceded the limited rights we did have to public health bureaucrats via public health emergency Acts with grossly insufficient means of review. They then couldn’t help themselves and exploited poor public health advice for political gain when they should have submitted that advice to scrutiny in light of the greater public good.

    It is this that must be remedied urgently.

    Good luck with that!


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  2. They then couldn’t help themselves and exploited poor public health advice for political gain when they should have submitted that advice to scrutiny in light of the greater public good.

    the common good seems to exclude people with jobs and businesses


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  3. Coincidentally, I was reading this as a news item appeared on the tv – NSW schools to return but with a long list of rules.
    The right to an education is another one down the gurgler.


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  4. Inalienable human rights were always poorly prtoected in Australia without a Bill of Rights

    You don’t need a bill of rights to define inalienable ones. These are rights that do not impose anything on anyone else… like the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (I.e. do anything you want so long as it is not explicitly prohibited in law / social contract).

    A bill of rights is required to codify those “rights” that others need to provide for you – stuff like a job, education, the dole and other freebies on the rent.


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  5. A bill of rights is required to codify those “rights” that others need to provide for you – stuff like a job, education, the dole and other freebies on the rent.

    I.E. ‘Rights’ defined by our alleged betters to mean ‘Entitlements to privileges and services provided by the Government…’


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  6. t’s the exception that proves the rule is one of the more profound of expressions

    I always used Pouncare’s maxim as a quote / signature on posts where this functionality existed: “exceptions are pernicious … they conceal laws.”

    One of the problems with modern science is the misuse of statistics, multivariate analysis and general spaghetti modelling to “prove” theory. A classic example is climate “science” where not one model hindcasts perfectly and so the (flawed) logic is that 50 kind of get it right when averaged and so these 50 when averaged will forecast accurately. WRONG! And why not one major prediction has actually come to pass. (Arctic will be ice free / our dams won’t fill / our children won’t know what snow is)

    As to losing our rights… most of us are so used to living on the rent and having freebies provided that the concept of freedom is an anathema. Freedom is actually scary! And this is ruthlessly exploited…


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  7. They’re better off than we are, even with Sleepy Joe.

    Yah…

    Americans have always had a frontiersman/ entrepreneurial mindset. Possibly because all the immigrants (from the Mayflower and on) really had to muck in and do or die. They are / were proud and protective of that heritage.

    As Tom Horne said – we’re a lucky country… didn’t have the same existential dramas that forged the Americans.


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  8. Isn’t Vic about to go one step further and push through legislation to keep the power to lock down after the health-emergency powers expire at the end of the year?


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  9. Any suspension of normal process and imposition of emergency powers MUST automatically trigger an election/ referendum after six months. If an election is not possible, a wartime cabinet made up of all parties must replace the existing Government and election to be held at the first possible opportunity.


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  10. The trouble I have with a Bill of Rights is (a) it delineates what you can do, rather than what the government can’t do, and (b) it can be altered at whim.

    I want something that tells the government WTF it can’t do!


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  11. We have Covid, the exceptional circumstance. The rule in this case is that our freedoms are inalienable and protected by our representative and democratic governing principles and practices. Well, how well has that rule stood up? We now know, there is no such rule. Our inalienable rights (e.g., to meet with our friends and family, to assemble, to earn a living, to eat out, to travel) are privileges dispensed by state premiers and their public health apparatchiks. Sure, they can be restored. But can we never again describe them as rights. We have ceded them to executive government.

    But if we no longer speak of them as rights we lose contact with the moral enormity involved in their abrogation. Furthermore, the notion of right/s is simply the counterpart of wrongs; namely, it is wrong to deny someone the earning of a living, the company of family or friends, and so on. In time, we came to positively refer to the exercise of this freedom to pursue such goods as rights. Maybe its time we remind those among us of the wrong involved in the abridgement of our pursuit of these goods.


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  12. Any suspension of normal process and imposition of emergency powers MUST automatically trigger an election/ referendum after six months.

    I was thinking about just this again today. How can it appropriate for secret deals to occur between the government and certain micro parties over whether emergency powers are enacted and extended as if this was no different to the ordinary passage of legislation? Its absolutely extraordinary that this has happened with so little scrutiny.


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  13. The trouble I have with a Bill of Rights is (a) it delineates what you can do, rather than what the government can’t do, and (b) it can be altered at whim.

    Believe it or not Danistan has a bill of rights that enshrined the UN declaration on the rights of man. Problem is it can be overridden in an emergency.

    If an election is not possible, a wartime cabinet mad

    No the government has to “own” the outcomes. Sitting here in Qld watching Chrisafali & Pileoshit, I honestly can’t say who would be worse.


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  14. That “Super-majority” thought for states of emergency is looking better every day.

    But the current batch of sociopaths will not give up any power voluntarily, be it over states of emergency, controlling the establishment of competing new parties, keeping compulsory voting, or anything else that might affect the entrenched power of the UniParty.


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  15. When I was in high-school I read a book to do with assessing arguments. It featured a number of fallacious arguments that were often deployed in political and like debates. One of the fallacies was “the exception proves the rule.” I carried that nugget with me for many years. I can’t recall the circumstances which led to its reappraisal. I suppose I found some clear example of the exception proving the rule.

    This has little to do with Popper or scientific enquiry specifically. Often the “rule” will be one that everyone has taken for granted, and rarely, if ever, given a thought to. Then some “exception” in the wings throws a bright light across centre stage, and the norm is cast into stark relief.

    As a not particularly good example, consider the transgender activist who holds a new-born up by its ankles and triumphantly proclaims that this this baby is of indeterminate sex (which s-he-it will render “gender”). Ergo, stop talking about humans coming in one of two sexes.

    Has our rule been demolished by this exception?

    That aside, Cats can agree that the rule you evince is well and truly cactus.


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