July 23, 2023 at 8:02 pm #123Jonathan BuhacoffKeymaster
The proposed right:
No person shall be held in slavery. No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. No person shall be denied recognition as a person, or be mistreated based on characteristics they cannot control such as their sex, the color of their skin, or their place of birth. No person shall be forced to disrobe or to submit to sexual intercourse or sexual penetration. No infant, child, adult, or elder shall be verbally or physically abused.
The right to dignity applies to government-citizen and citizen-citizen relations.
The right to dignity prohibits rape — the crime of using force (or the threat of force) to compel a person to submit to sexual intercourse or other sexual penetration. Sexual intercourse with an unconscious person or a person otherwise incapable of consent is always considered forced. Sexual intercourse with a person below the age of consent is prohibited because it’s either forced or coerced (rape) or it’s without informed consent (child abuse) and either way it violates the person’s right to dignity.
It’s important to note that the right of dignity and the right to honest and peaceful speech will sometimes seemingly conflict, but usually such conflicts can be resolved by examining the intent of people involved. For example, “revenge porn” is a clear violation of the dignity of the person depicted in the photos or videos, who — if they consented at all to those photos or videos being recorded — likely consented under the assumption that the other person cared for them and would safeguard the recordings and not share them. Assuming the “revenge porn” recordings are true and have not been generated using AI, the next question would be whether they are peaceful. Violating someone’s rights — in this case the right to dignity — is not peaceful, and in the case of “revenge porn” it is clearly malicious. Therefore the person disseminating “revenge porn” is not protected by the right to honest and peaceful speech. However, in a situation where someone is a candidate running for office and makes a statement such as “I have never played beer pong naked” and someone happens to have a recording of a party in which that happened, the right to dignity can be protected by submitting the evidence to a court under seal and challenging the candidate’s dishonest speech, seeking an order for the candidate to retract or correct their public statement. The candidate, who can view the evidence against them in court proceedings without that evidence being made public, has an opportunity to make a public retraction of their prior incorrect statement and make a new honest and peaceful statement instead. If they refuse to do that, publishing the recordings no longer violates the candidate’s right to dignity and falls squarely under honest and peaceful speech (assuming the publisher keeps it “strictly business” and doesn’t add insults or any other dishonest or non-peaceful speech to the release) because it is providing evidence that the candidate made a false claim after the candidate rejected an opportunity to correct their statements themselves without the evidence being made public.
The right to dignity prohibits unfair discrimination in the situations where punishment is assigned — that is, in situations where a person is going to be treated differently than others in terms of punishment, it should be different based on the situation and not based on the person, so they should be treated like any other person in that situation, in a way that society agrees is fair, and in a way that is not cruel or degrading. Such situations are not covered by the right to equal opportunity because punishments are not resources or opportunities.
The legislature should enact a law further limiting monetary punishments to prevent cruel use of fines. The government must not impose fines in excess of 1% of their total annual earnings or in excess of 1% of their total wealth (whichever is greater) for a single non-felony offense, or in excess of 10% of their total annual earnings or in excess of 10% of their total wealth (whichever is greater) for a single felony offense. That’s only for any fines involved and does not include damages payable to victims.
Comparison to the United States
In the United States Constitution, the Eighth Amendment states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”. We prefer the term “degrading” over “unusual” because judges should have the ability to sentence unusual punishments that are not degrading in cases where they believe it’s in the best interest of justice. For example, the usual punishments in the United States are community service, monetary penalties, and jail or prison time. If a judge believes that writing an essay or participating in some constructive activity is a fitting consequence for someone, for example a juvenile or an adult first-offender of a non-violent crime, they should not be restricted from doing something merely because it’s unusual — that would mean we can never improve because everything new is also unusual. A better test for whether something should be allowed or not is whether it’s degrading to the person doing it, as phrased in the United Nations declaration.
Comparison to the United Nations
Article 4 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” The right to dignity is one of the rights that precludes the practice of slavery in societies that adopt these rights. However, “servitude” can mean both a state of subjugation to an owner or master, where it is a synonym for slavery, or forced labor imposed as a punishment for crime, where it is a synonym for community service. Therefore, we don’t include the word servitude in this right because as a synonym to slavery it’s already covered by the word slavery, and we believe that community service and reparations are a good mechanism in the pursuit of justice. As a mechanism of justice, forced labor must be for a limited and specified duration and of a nature that fits the crime.
Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” We omit the word “inhuman” because things that humans do are human, and the purpose of defining rights is to help humans get along with one another.
Article 6 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.”
Article 7 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.” The second sentence of that relates to the right to dignity.
Article 11 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” This relates to the right to dignity because people who presume a person is guilty before they are convicted may mistreat that person based on their presumption, but since the person hasn’t yet had a chance to prove their innocence, and since we do know that sometimes innocent people are accused by mistake or intentionally, we need to avoid treating them differently until their guilt is established, and even then a person has a right to dignity so for example throwing tomatoes at them is not appropriate even if they’re guilty of some crime.
Article 15 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to a nationality.” This is similar to Article 6 which states “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.” Nationality is the status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization. Accordingly, every member of society who has agreed to live by the same rules, can call themselves a national of that society.
Article 22 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.” The part about cultural rights and dignity relates to the right to dignity.
Article 23.3 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.” The part about “ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity” relates to the right to dignity. An employer shall not offer full-time work for a wage that is obviously not enough to sustain a person and their family, or part-time work for a prorated wage that, if projected to the full time equivalent, would not be enough to sustain a person and their family, or ad-hoc work for pay that, if if projected to the full time equivalent, would not be enough to sustain a person and their family.
Article 24 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” The “right to rest and leisure” is debatable, but the intent of this article is covered by the right to dignity where an employer shall not employ a person in such a way that they have no ability to rest or spend time with their family and no way out of that situation. This does not apply to a person who willingly enters into a contract to, for example, sail on a voyage or perform a service in a far-away place which would necessarily entail them working most of the time and being away from home, so long as that contract is for a limited time and provides sufficient pay to sustain the person, the person’s family back home, and provide for rest and leisure time when they return. Without such assurances and limitations, a person can slide into an arrangement that is a kind of inescapable servitude even if it isn’t called slavery and even if it has the formalities of a normal work contract.
Article 25.2 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.” This relates to the right to dignity for the child.
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