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.