Sunday, 22 December 2013

letters 21/12 Human rights not a matter of competing philosophies

Human rights not a matter of competing philosophies


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MY congratulations to Tim Wilson on his appointment as Human Rights Commissioner. All Australians have a stake in what he does or doesn't do in this position.
He's on the record saying that "in the second half of the 20th century the rise of international human rights law has perverted and distorted our understanding of where our rights come from".
The basis of all international human rights law is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the human rights conventions developed in the past six decades to protect women, children, minorities and other vulnerable groups. These have been ratified by Australian governments after careful examination.
He refers to positive rights and negative rights and reasserting the necessity of traditional human rights. But human rights are universal.
Freedom of expression is important and when there has been a challenge to this right, the commission has taken a strong stand.
However, the commission also bears a responsibility to ensure that the rights of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society are protected -- the homeless, mentally ill, asylum-seekers and refugees among others.
This is not a matter of competing philosophies. These groups deserve Wilson's continued advocacy.
I wish him every success in working with his colleagues to effectively discharge his responsibilities.
Brian Burdekin, human rights commissioner, 1986-94, Melbourne, Vic
THE Labor Party is a strange organisation in that it is always prepared to go for the populist point of view. Labor's protestations about Tim Wilson's appointment as Human Rights Commissioner is hypocrisy of the first
degree. It's as if individuals aligned to the Labor Party have never been appointed to this body.
Has it ever dawned on the opposition that if Nicola Roxon's legislation to clamp down on freedom of speech had been passed, much of Labor's attack on the Abbott government and its appointments might be in breach of that legislation?
Attorney-General George Brandis is on the right track to nail Labor and the Greens for their hypocrisy in an area of life they have always claimed as their own. Where are the true believers hiding?
Peter D. Surkitt, Hampton, Vic
IT is good to see Tim Wilson laughing ("Wilson laughs off his Twitter-zone critics", 20/12). The very piece of legislation that Wilson disagrees with -- an offence to offend someone -- is now seeing those critical of his appointment biting themselves on the bum. That is why he is laughing.
How dare they offend with their vitriol? For too long we've seen this country being turned into a society with diminishing resilience and with
a delusional belief that political correctness would make us better.
We now pin labels on those we disagree with, thereby seeing emotional blackmail as a conversational strength rather than using our ability to unpack the issues and debate the realities.
Of course, seeing people unfairly labelled as a way of silencing those who see things differently is too easy. Wilson will seek to have people debate the issues, rather than complain about being offended. That will build knowledge and resilience, two vital ingredients for a better Australia.
Tim Dwyer, Moffat Beach, Qld
IN Joe Kelly's story, he reports that left-wing academic Robert Manne insisted his statement about past comments by Tim Wilson, our new Human Rights Commissioner, be published in full. Manne's comment consisted of a single sentence of 107 words filling 20 lines.
It brought to mind Samuel Johnson's rejoinder to a critic: "Sir, it is the height of rudeness to quote a man against himself."
Bob Lawrence, Dover Gardens, SA


Last Post, December 21

If Van Badham ceased her vacuous tweeting (Cut & Paste, 20/12) and did some reading, she would find out that the Nazis were the National Socialist German Workers Party -- more akin to her politics than Tim Wilson's.
Iain Rae, River Heads, Qld
After the workout Cut & Paste gave The Guardian's Van Badham, I expect she's already cancelled her subscription to The Australian.
John McHarg, Baldivis, WA
Is Robert Manne a gale-force windbag or do I need to let a reef out of my mainsail ("Wilson laughs off Twitter-zone critics", 20/12)?
Chris Topovsek, Noosaville, Qld
Most of those upset over repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act also condemned Dutch MP Geert Wilders for visiting Australia and speaking his mind. These people have no interest in protecting free speech.
Fabio Scalia, Windsor, Vic
Without free speech, we wouldn't know how loopy some of us are.
Paul Haege, Darling Point, NSW
How on earth did a Collins-class submarine make it all the way to Singapore ("Female submariner sent home after 'groping' woman colleague", 20/12)?

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