Does A Culture Have Rights?

A previously unknown tribe of aboriginal people has been spotted by plane in South America. The photos in the article about this discovery show people wearing loin cloths and shooting bows and arrows at the overflying plane that is photographing them. The article quotes Jose Carlos Meirelles, a member of some, presumably, multiculturalist group, who suggests that unless “something” is done these primitive cultures will soon be extinct. He obviously doesn’t mean that these primitive people are going to be murdered, since that is illegal, even in Brazil. In fact, he doesn’t mean that these people are going to have their rights to life, liberty, or property violated, since they presumably have equal rights under Brazilian law, just like any other individual. (If they do not have equal and full individual rights under Brazilian law, or whatever nation they are in, then I do not dispute that they should have such equal rights.) Just because these primitive people should have equal, individual rights under the law does not mean that they have a “right to a primitive way of life”, when that would violate the individual rights of others. For instance, these primitive people do not have a “right” to murder or enslave people who happen onto their “territory” just because it is part of their “culture” and “way of life”.

This applies to primitive people living here in the United States as well, such as the group in West Texas known as the “Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints”. The issues in this case are not entirely clear to me, and I am not certain that the State handled this situation entirely properly. Obviously, consenting adults should be free to marry whomever they want, in whatever numbers, but I am uncertain what the age of consent should be, and when or if it should be disregarded by a court in particular circumstances. I am also uncertain what the minimum age to marry should be, and whether it should matter if the girl’s parents consent to the marriage. But, I think that sex with a 12 year old girl, which is alleged to have occurred in this case, is probably always rape, regardless of any alleged consent by her or her parents. Just like the primitive people living in the jungles of Brazil, the mere fact that these people may make the multiculturalist argument that this is their “way of life” does not give them the right to violate individual rights, and it is fairly clear to me that such violations did occur.

Cultures don’t have rights. Individuals have rights, and people from a culture that institutionalizes the violation of individual rights have no right to put those ideas into practice.

King Gets Fired

This is an interesting article about the abolition of the monarchy in the country of Nepal. I put this in the category of “I’m not sure what to think of this.” On the one hand, abolishing a monarchy in favor of a Republic is good, but the government is now in the hands of people claiming to be communists. I’d rather live under a limited constitutional monarchy rather than a communist state. A limited constitutional monarchy like 19th century England respects individual rights far more than any 20th century communist state did. But, I don’t get the impression that these “Maoists” are really committed communists anymore. (Aside from university professors, are there any real communists even left in the world?) Since I don’t know much about that area of the world, I guess I will take a wait and see attitude on this bit of history.

Abolish Unauthorized Practice Statutes

This is an article explaining why unauthorized practice of law statutes should be abolished. I agree 100%. I have encountered lawyers who claimed to be proponents of laissez faire capitalism but refused to recognize that unauthorized practice laws are not consistent with capitalism and freedom of contract. Those lawyers are either hypocritical or ignorant -I am neither.

Iron Age Coup D’Etat

PBS had an interesting episode of NOVA last night about “bog bodies” that date back to Iron Age Ireland and England -which was around 350 B.C. Occasionally, in the bogs of those countries, a mummified body will be found because the plants in the bogs secret a substance that preserves flesh in a similar manner to how leather is tanned. The bog bodies usually show evidence of having been intentionally killed or murdered, such as having their heads bashed in, and having been stabbed fatally. The other interesting thing noted was that the bodies usually show evidence of having been people who would have been of high social standing.

There is some debate as to why these people of high social rank were killed and put into the bogs, but as soon as I learned that they were people of high social standing, I thought “coup d’etat”. Later in the show, there was a suggestion that these people may have been tribal chieftains, which strengthens my thinking on this subject. These killings may have been how people in a tribal society, which has no concept of elected government, deposed of a leader. If they had had a concept of elected representatives, then they simply would have voted for a new leader, but since they would have had no concept of that, the only way to get rid of their leader would have been to kill him, probably instigated by the leader’s “political rivals”. They noted that the killings were usually brutal, which suggested that they weren’t just ritualistic, but I think the brutality would make sense. If hard times had fallen on the tribe, and the leader was regarded as responsible, then brutally killing him for tribal resentment that may have built up over many years, would make sense.

Wrongful Prosecution

This is an interesting article describing a debate over whether to criminalize intentionally withholding evidence of innocence by a prosecutor in Texas. I think any prosecutor that would intentionally withhold evidence of a person’s innocence in order to get a conviction can only be described as a morally evil person. It is also appropriate to criminalize such conduct because it is using physical force, in this case jail or execution, to deprive the accused of a value, namely his liberty, or possibly even his life. It doesn’t matter that the prosecutor is not the one actually physically incarcerating the innocent person, any more than it would matter if the head of a crime organization ordered one of his henchmen to kill someone. Just as the head of a crime organization would be responsible for the crimes committed on his behalf, so too would a prosecutor be responsible for the unjustified incarceration or execution of an innocent man.