Tuesday, 22 January 2008

That's why we don't need a Bill of Rights

I was peaceably munching on a sandwich in a Lisburn Road café when a Metro bus adorned with a full length advert for the nascent Bill of Rights pulled up at a set of traffic lights. Having managed to retain my composure for long enough to swallow the masticated pulp of chorizo sausage and sun dried tomato, I naturally embarked on an extensive rant about the rank stupidity of these adverts and the concept of a BoR in general.

I do not wish to repeat ad nauseum the argument against the need for a Bill of Rights, but what I will say once again is the following – JUST BECAUSE THE WORD ‘RIGHTS’ IS IN THE TITLE DOES NOT MAKE IT ANY MORE NECESSARY OR SELF-EVIDENTLY ‘A GOOD THING’. And in that sentence we dispel the entirety of the rights lobby’s argument. But let us look at little more closely at the garbage that our taxes are paying for to be painted on buses and hoardings.

“A third of children are living in poverty – that’s why we need a Bill of Rights”

Exactly what “right” is going to abolish poverty? If there is to be a right not to live in poverty, how on earth will this be enforced? We don’t need a Bill of Rights to combat poverty, because such a Bill would not do a damn thing about tackling it, other than to wield a few well meaning platitudes. The onus for tackling poverty lies on the arms of government charged with generating wealth and jobs as well as those arms of government charged with providing welfare. Those are the areas in which legislation is needed in order to make any substantial dent on poverty.

“600 older people died of cold last year. That’s why we need a Bill of Rights”

No. That’s why a fuel allowance was introduced. If 600 older people really died of cold last year (exactly what is meant by “dying of cold” is not clear and that seems a strangely round figure) perhaps we need to increase the fuel allowance. A Bill of Rights will not do anything practical to eradicate the cold. Are we to have a “right” to warmth? If so my rights are being grievously infringed every time I step unto the platform at Holywood train station.

“There were 1700 sectarian attacks last year. That’s why we need a Bill of Rights”

That’s why we have a whole range of criminal law and measures against hate crime. Unless I have missed something, it is not currently legally permissible to launch a sectarian attack. Will anyone who is inclined to attack someone because of their politics or religion be given pause to stop and think about their actions if they infringe the platitudes of a Bill of Rights? Just because it’s a bad thing and you plaster it on a bus, does not mean that your Bill will do anything about it!

“People with disabilities are twice as likely to be out of work in Northern Ireland. That’s why we need a Bill of Rights”

That is why we have equality legislation, employment legislation and an Equality Commission. If any of these are not sufficient then clearly we need to look at bolstering them.

To summarise, this campaign consists of mentioning 4 negative facets of our society and quite erroneously linking them to the lack of a Bill of Rights specifically for Northern Ireland. If people are taken in by such nonsense they are giving an important issue no more thought then they might give as to whether to purchase Coca Cola or Pepsi.


beano said...

I saw the one about disabled unemployment too and my immediate train of thought also led straight to "What about the Disability Discrimination Act?"

It's a load of patronising shite. It's bad enough our taxes are being used to pay these useless bastards, it's even worse that they're then using those publicly-funded positions to waste yet more of our money on advertising (the goal of which is, as always, to make us believe we need something we don't).

O'Neill said...

To summarise, this campaign consists of mentioned 4 negative facets of our society

3 of those negatives are common to the UK as a whole. The 4th (sectarian attacks), well, people also do get attacked in the rest of the UK, sometimes even because of their religion.

So....if they're so concerned about these problems which will no doubt be solved by this Bill of Rights they're promoting, why not extend the campaign and the "rights" to the rest of the UK, just think of the overall good that would do?

Ok,it may not suit some peoples' political agenda, but hey, that's not what this is all about surely- let's keep thinking about the kids and the poor OAPS.

And useful side-result, just think how many quangoists it would take to operate it on a UK-wide basis? NI could even start exporting some of its surplus "human rights activists".

Dinamo said...

The people will do much better if they work hard and achieve higher production and report any saboteurs or anti-party sentiment.