Monday, October 10, 2005

The Right to Life

Article 2 -– Right to life
1 Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be
deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.
2 Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (pdf)
We'll be hearing a great deal about the importance of the right to life this week as the government tries to sell us its new anti-terror proposals.
Article 2 of the European Convention is the Right to Life. The European Convention specifically recognises that you have got to be able to protect your citizens and their right to be free from attack, or free from terrorism.
Tony Blair 5th August 2005
Let's leave aside the fact that the convention doesn't specifically mention terrorism in the way that Blair suggests. Unfortunately, small Blair lies are just part of the backdrop of everyday life in the UK these days. What I'm concerned about is the fact that Blair's argument sounds marginally convincing but is actually hopelessly stupid.

The point is that the right to life could be used to justify all sorts of strange proposals if we were to follow Blair's argument to its logical conclusion. Article 2 of the convention states that "No-one should be deprived of his life intentionally...". If we are to give this article primacy over other considerations in the way Blair suggests, we could use it to justify laws which are patently absurd.

Friend and Family - a danger to society
I believe that friends and family should be outlawed. Consider murder statistics in the UK. In the UK there are approximately 800 murders committed every year. It is well known that a large proportion of all murders are committed by a friend or relative of the victim. So, statistically, a UK resident is more likely to be deprived of his life intentionally by someone they know than by a terrorist (and probably by a considerable margin although I don't have the energy at the moment to actually try to work it out exactly). Now, given the primacy of the right to life, it is clear that this situation should not be allowed to continue. The government is failing in its duty to protect the right to life of its citizens. I call for the government to introduce an immediate ban on all social interaction between the individual and their family and friends. It is only by introducing such a law that the right to life can be upheld in a satisfactory manner.

Now that's obviously, pardon me, complete bollocks. Even though such a law could conceivably prevent a considerable number of people from being "deprived of life intentionally", it would undoubtedly be considered a hideous over-reaction based on an unsound and irrational allocation of priorities.

In my view, Blair's current proposals are no different.

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