Who Receives Rights?

There have been numerous movies, novels, newspapers and individuals that have altered my political perspective, even including this reading. In Lynn Hunt’s Inventing Human Rights it stressed that novels were influencing the readers on numerous occasions. For example, “by constantly harping on the seductions of love, [novels] encouraged readers to act on their worst impulses, to refuse the advice of their parents and church to ignore the moral strictures of the community” (51) and “Many moralists feared that novels sowed discontent in the minds especially of servants and young girls” (52). The impact of novels, news and movies tend to portray a specific point of view, which at many times, you haven’t experienced thus possibly influencing you. It’s impossible for a novel, film, art or song to have never impacted you, even if you were completely closed-minded you most likely would have been changed subconsciously.

I have always been a bit indecisive regarding the death penalty and the story of Calas truly caught my attention as he endured a gruesome death. Although it wasn’t until a quote from Benjamin Rush stating that we shouldn’t forget that even criminals “possess souls and bodies composed of the same material as those of ours friends and relations” (76) made me think why is it that we are allowed to decide the fate of another? Does certain actions make an individual not human, thus allowing us to eliminate them from existence? Does a murderer still have certain unalienable rights? Formerly, children, servants and the propertyless weren’t granted certain self-evident rights are all now granted these rights, but how about those who are harmful and destructive to society?


2 thoughts on “Who Receives Rights?”

  1. Hi Miguel –
    I think that we as a society are allowed to decide the fate of others because of our need to protect our world as a whole for the “greater good.” I’m not necessarily saying that we are all Communists and Marxists, but in general, I think it is a recognized fact that criminals are a danger to our society and need to be put away. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not human and need to be eliminated from existence; I think it just means that they are a danger to others and need to be separated from the general society. A murderer certainly has unalienable rights because he/she is protected from torture and death (at least in some states), but it is interesting that they lose their freedom. I suppose committing a crime makes one loses their privilege of free will and action… What do you think?

  2. You have a few very interesting points in here. First, it’s interesting to think of lustfullness in a sense of the media and that impact that it has had upon us contrary to what we have been taught by our families/religions. In terms of the death penalty, that is a really hard subject ethically to look upon and I share many of the same questions that you brought up. I know it is vaguely rhetorical and I don’t want to put my own views of the death penalty up here, I just wanted to let you know that this post made me think a bit differently.

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