Monday, December 15, 2008

Guardian: Rights and responsibilities bill is all wrong

Guardian: Rights and responsibilities bill is all wrong

"Perhaps Straw has veered towards Mail-think, which would be sad. Whatever Straw really believes, a British "bill of rights and responsibilities" is not an answer. Adding responsibilities to rights will not create a "balance" as he claims; it will create a nonsense. The basic flaw is that rights and responsibilities do not logically belong to the same family. They are different animals. They cannot be set off against, or complement, one another. It makes no sense to say: "Here is a right, let's have a responsibility to balance it." If you have a legal right to something and you are denied it, you can go to court and demand it be restored, or that you are compensated.

But most responsibilities or duties are not of that ilk: they are more akin to statements of desirable behaviour by good citizens. That is not something the courts can, or should, be asked to rule upon."

by Marcel Berlin

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