Human Rights

Orwell Would Have Loved This

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The head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights speaks out on stoning:

The hard-line chief of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, the longtime political operator and insider Mohammad-Javad Larijani, says the sentence of stoning against an impoverished mother of two accused of adultery stands, even though it is under a required review. 
In other words, 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani could still be buried up to her neck and pelted with small rocks until she dies because she was convicted of having sex outside of marriage.

Larijani, a well-connected regime loyalist, blamed the Western media for making a big deal out of nothing.

“Our judicial system cannot change its course because of Western attack and media pressure,” he told the official Islamic Republic News Agency in a report published late Friday (in Persian). “The Western media’s attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran comes under a pretext every time, and in recent years it is the instructions of the Islamic religious law that have been the target of their attacks.”
No one’s quite sure what’s next for Ashtiani. Larijani said Ashtiani’s sentence of death by stoning had not been rescinded, contradicting a statement issued Thursday by the Islamic Republic’s embassy in London.

“Regarding this criminal, I must point out that first of all the punishment of death by stoning exists in our constitution but the esteemed judges issue this verdict on very rare occasions,” said Larijani, whose brothers include the head of the judiciary branch and the speaker of parliament. “This case has passed its long procedure, and the defendant was first sentenced to 90 lashes and then, in another court, to death by stoning. The review of this sentence in currently underway.”

Her lawyer said even if they halt the stoning, he’s worried they’ll put her to death by some other means. “We do not know which penalty will be substituted for stoning,” her lawyer told Babylon & Beyond.

He said he’s asked for her pardon four times, especially since no private individual is seeking her prosecution — just the government. “For the sake of the Islamic system and its reputation in the world, nobody should be stoned to death anymore,” said Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai. “If the judiciary branch is attaching importance to the prestige of the system in the world, then the stoning should be stopped.” Continue reading

Social Contract and Morality

Kyle Cupp has a brief post describing the dehumanizing moral effects of seeing human dignity and rights as springing entirely from a social contract (implied or explicit):

This reduction occurs when we understand and act upon our moral obligations to one another only within the framework of a social contract–when we limit our obligations to those who have entered into such contracts and consider ourselves obligated only to those who share our citizenship, have signed a treaty we have signed, or participate with us in some other contractual arrangement. I make this reduction when I don’t care about torturing terrorists because they’re not signers of the Geneva Conventions, when I wish to alienate the immigrant who enters my country against my country’s laws, when I ignore my obligations to those not yet born because the laws of the land do not recognize their personhood, or when I insist that others shouldn’t be given Constitutional rights when the rights I wish to withhold from them are basic human rights.

I think that he’s right as far as he goes, but I don’t think that his point that basic human rights and duties are inherent to humanity (rather than assumed via some sort of contract/relationship) is actually the point usually at dispute in our society. Rather, what seems often to be disputed is what the extent of basic human rights are — and which “rights” are merely agreed civic rights which we grant explicitly via the social contract.

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The Birth of Freedom

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A trailer for a documentary from the Acton Institute.  This documentary examines the role of Judaism and Christianity in creating the conditions which led to the concept of human freedom cherished in the West.  A number of short clips from the video are available on-line and I will be using them in posts in the days to come.  In regard to the trailer I would state the following propositions for discussion:  (1)  The clash between Church and State that characterized Western Europe in the Middle Ages was a fundamental pre-condition for the concept of limited government as it developed in the West; (2) the insistence of the Church that all men and women were equal in the eyes of God established the basis for the concept of human rights; and (3) that as a Western society becomes divorced from its religious roots the very concept of freedom as it has been understood in the West becomes difficult to maintain from a philosophical standpoint.

The Seamless Garment: Human Trafficking

This is more of a “rant,” than a thought out piece which I would usually give more effort.

I am infamous for the “consistent life ethic” war cry, even as the magnificent doctrine is abused for partisan gain by everyone on every side of the political spectrum. The idea of the “seamless garment” is not only a beautiful image, but a constant reminder that nothing in the fabric of human activity is isolated and unrelated to all else.

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