Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A right to not be wronged

This Post is dedicated to the thought of freedom.
Freedom is a very complex issue and I plan to dedicate many posts to this subject exploring what I feel are the most important and interesting components.
This post is about the protection of our freedom. I live in Australia and all though we enjoy the (mostly) the same freedoms as, say for example, the United States we have no constitutional rights safeguarding ourselves from invasions of privacy, infringements on free speech and unlawful attention. Those following recent events in Australia will know what I'm getting at now.
I want to gauge peoples response to the detention and prosecution of Dr Mohamed Haneef.
For those unfamiliar with the story the following link should help you out a bit:


Obviously the case against Hannef has been dropped not because they believe he is innocent , but due to lack of evidence. Is it right that they can lock you up and question you relentlessly with such little evidence?
I don't want a terrorist attack anymore then the right wing liberals in charge of this country, but does that make it right that ASIO and the federal police only have to do half their job before dragging someone through hell?

As many people may know Dr Haneef is not and Australian citizen, which may have clouded peoples judgment on this issue. Rest assured though with the exception of canceling his visa nothing that happened to him could not happen, just as easily, to an Australian citizen.

So back to my first point – Is it time that Australians got their own Bill of Rights?
Before I get flamed I am well aware that we do have freedoms governed by law that have been set through common law and precedents handed down by the courts – but there is nothing that can't be appealed and in some circumstances plainly ignored.

What then would stop the government from just violating those rights when they see fit – wouldn't the anti terrorism laws override those rights?

It is true that if the government want to “get” you they will, but having a Bill of Rights that are celebrated and taught to children in schools would give the public a clear understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Is it a coincidence that our law system and “political speak” is so hard to understand? No. It is designed this way to keep the average, lazy, “She'll be right, mate” Australian at arms length.

Someone once said to me that we don't need a Bill of Rights because this is a free country and all the rights that come with a free country are implied.
Wow, that's nice I thought. Then a rebuted: If the rights of a free country in the modern world are implied why then is the Howard government supporting a bill of rights for Iraq? Why not us? Do we need to be illegally invaded, torn apart used for finacial and political gain of world leaders before we earned out right to rights?

What I want to know from everyone is – if tomorrow the members of parliament said “Ok Dane, you got it we will construct a list of rights that will be upheld by law and are applicable to every Australian citizen” What would we want on it? What rights must we have in order to feel secure that this disaster of recent events doesn't happen to you or I?

I have a couple:

  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of Press
  • Freedom of Religion
  • The right to a speedy and fair trial
  • The right not to be prosecuted without sufficient non circumstantial evidence

What else should be added to the list?
What implied liberties should not be there? What about the obligation to vote. I am impartial to our democratic system here but is it right that we are free but are forced to vote or face fines and possible incarceration?

I personally would vote at every opportunity I got because I do care about what happens, but I must say I am filled with anger that I am forced by LAW to be there voting. Voting is a good thing it is good for us so the government made it law that we must. The Australian Government is a paternalistic government. They know what is good for us and most of the time we don't have to decide what is right or wrong – but that is is a whole other blog all together.

Do we need a Bill of Rights? Why? If so what should be on there?

The Big Question

What is the function of the human being?
What is the one unique function that separates us from every other species on this planet?
First we must consider the question and investigate it – only when we get the question right can a satisfactory answer be found.
First the word function.
The definition of the word function, moreover the definition relevant to this subject, is as follows:

the kind of action or activity proper to a person, thing, or institution; the purpose for which something is designed or exists; role.

It has been said that once we understand the unique function of a human being we can then find meaning to our existence and our place in the world at large.
Why unique? Why can’t two things share the same function?
Whether you believe in a God/Gods or nature, there is a necessity for all things here on earth. If the purpose of bees is to germinate and it is also the function of humans to germinate then nature or the God/Gods are inefficient and it for this discussion we must assume that nature (whether a natural phenomenon or created by a God) is efficient and deliberate.

So to rephrase the question:
What is the kind of action or activity that is unique to human beings?

I have heard many people say that the purpose of the human being is to be born, to reproduce and then to die. Obviously none of these actions are unique. However, as simplistic as this is, it is a very sound argument and would appear to be reasonable.
So why then are we so intelligent? Why would nature/God give us such a grand intelligence if our purpose is to simply survive and reproduce? It is obvious that packs of dogs can to the same thing with just a fraction of the “brainpower” we possess.

So what is it that we do that no other species can?
I have pondered this question many times and have yet to find a satisfactory answer. Sometimes I may find a unique property or action but fail to see how this “skill” could be used to benefit nature. That is assuming that our function must fit into the grand scheme of things, and that you or I could comprehend the bigger picture.
Here are a few that I have been pondering:

This one is a little tricky. Many other species manipulate however is there any that manipulate for personal gain that is not attributed to survival?

Is there any other thing on earth that can waste as much time as us? Is there an animal for example that wakes up after sleeping and says “I can’t be bothered today, perhaps I’ll just sit around”?

I am not seriously suggesting that the purpose of a human being is the lie, cheat steal then just watch television but they may be what I consider unique actions of our species.

I head an advertisement for conservation not long ago that said “Humans are the only species that have it within there power to protect every other species on the planet” (or something to that effect)
Could that be it? Are we the protectors? I have considered this statement at length and as much as I don’t like it is hard to argue against it. My only question concerns our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom – apes. If there survival depended on the survival of everything else could they also protect everything else? Do they have the intelligence and the means to do so? They obviously couldn't protect the whole world but could they do this in their own environment? If humans disappear would everything in nature fall apart?

The sad answer is no. In fact scientists predict nature would flourish without us. So while it may be a unique function of humans to protect everything else on the planet our intervention is not integral to nature’s survival.
I ask that after reading this that you sit and think for a while.
What is the function of the human being?
What are your thoughts?

"only the paranoid really know the score"