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Cest La Vie Politique; When A Right Is A Wrong
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Cest La Vie Politique; When A Right is A Wrong

It is never reasonable to expect a drunken man to think sober. Neither is it reasonable to expect a woman with broken legs to walk a mile. And yet we frequently work from the hypothesis that as long as someone has the right to do something, everything is fine.

Asking the drunk or broken legged respectively, to think sober or walk a mile is akin to expecting a torch without power to light up. I suspect this why despite having so many rights the average modern citizen is still largely dark of spirit. 

If there is accuracy to this suspicion then we would expect to see situations in which a right is present but a corresponding uptake of the service that that right entitles one to is absent. And there are many. However for brevity let’s look at one.

The mentally ill individual is entitled to mental health care, yet to access that care the mentally ill individual usually requires (initially anyway) to attend an appointment. Now among many mental illnesses, are a breakdown in routine, life skills, time management and basic comprehension of items such as letters written to the individual inviting them to the said appointment? To send a letter to attend an appointment to someone whose life skills, time management and basic comprehension of items such as letters has broken down; is a bit like motioning the broken-legged to walk over to the surgery. It is nonsense. And yet, whereas we often go to the physically ill and injured, we often fail to go to the mentally ill and injured; instead expecting them to get to us.

We might be responding to their rights, but not their capacity to execute their right. We reduce them to powerless torches.

That we attend the physical malady quicker than the mental malady implies that there is still a sense that mental illness is not quite as valid as physical illness. We still have expectations of the mentally ill that we do not have of the physically ill. In any logic; this is straightforward prejudice of the ill.

Of course this is just a single example and is easily rebutted by even the reasonably intelligent. Never the less, it does suggest that the perceived meeting of rights can blind us to the problem of lack of capacity to benefit from those rights. At least it would be comforting to think it is blindness, and not blinkeredness.

So what can we suppose from this problem (where it exists) of lack of capacity to realise a right? Perhaps that it is a problem born from ignorance, bias, and lack of value; or unreasonableness, stupidity or even inhumanity. The possibilities are beyond listing, but perhaps not the probabilities.

If we ask; what is the likely reason that a right to X or not to X was undermined by a lack of capacity to X? We might initially propose that it is because the right itself is consciously or unconsciously misconceived and formulated.

If so, it is reasonable (and humane where human rights are concerned) to reconceive or reformulate things so as to bring about a situation where a right to X or not to X essentially means an ability to X or not to X.

Perhaps the way forward is to ask a question of this type:  

Does the right I have to (speak freely for example) co-exist with a capacity to speak freely, or is this right undermined by a wrong; that is a law or principle or guideline or situation that makes my right either dangerous to implement, or difficult to implement?

If we can answer yes to such a question then we can conclude that what seems to be a right is actually a wrong. When a right is a wrong; something is always wrong; never right.

C'est la vie; C'est la vie Politique


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