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[personal profile] johanna_alice
I'll freely admit I have a tendency to see things in black and white. Most of the time these days I do manage dithering at least and on good days can even go so far as a colour supplement. Not today though. Today, as I have been for many recent days, I am really angry. Not angry enough to go off on a destructive rampage, but angry in a disappointed, feeling let-down, thought things were better than this kind of a way.

It all comes down to my believing in human rights. Or rather to my belief that human rights are black and white. We have them or we don't. Of course there are conflicted situations where those rights get traded off against each other - which in a civillised society should be to maximise the benefit to all concerned. Not to deny one groups rights in favour of anothers.

The hitch for me is that I see things on many scales. Substitute 'individuals' for 'groups' in the last paragraph. It's just as valid, just as clear-cut and just as necessary for a society to be civillised.

If you know me, have read some of the stuff I've written here and elsewhere, then you probably have an idea what I'm on about. Nevertheless this is a non-specific idealogical dissertation about scale as it applies to human rights in the eye's of one girl who has to believe in them because otherwise she's left trying to decide things for herself - which isn't a good place...

When someone in a position of some degree of influence makes a decision, the odds are that they've had advice. Probably conflicting advice both for and against a particular thing. Those are viewpoints, possibly structured, reasoned arguments, but still at the end of the day points of view. What the decision-maker has is the responsibility to look at all those arguments and decide what will happen. That's also true on scales from the individual to whole populations. I think that decision-maker has a duty to be just and fair, to uphold human rights and be able to demonstrate consistency throughout differing decision-making processes.

Now that person may hear viewpoints that aren't particularly valid. Racism, sexism, hate-speech in general, and be unable to prevent it for one reason or another. That usually being impartiality being asssumed, imposed or desired. At the end of the day though, the decision being made will affect lives one way or another.

I don't think that there should be a hint or murmur of differing values due to variance in scale between decisions. It's very easy to go protest at something that's hugely injust, but what about the little injustices, those times when someone is marginalised, their voice ignored and their distress not noticed? What happens in a culture where those things are let slide and some 'greater good' held up as a (feeble) excuse.

If you are going to say you stand for something ideological, then that should be on every scale simultaneously not just the most obvious or the most popular. At the end of the day we're all individuals and our human rights apply to us ultimately as individuals, not as populations.

I can see a dissonance in scale and differences between the individual and the populatory. I don't like it, what to scream and throw things at it to try to make people see...

...but I can't. I'm mad Johanna who is rude and tries to blame it on mental illness. I'm stubborn Johanna who doesn't care if she sets off huge arguments about something insignificant. I'm awkward Johanna who others don't want to be associated with lest they get blamed for how others perceive me.

What's really here though is a girl who cares very greatly that people are treated with equality and dignity. A girl who thinks that if each individual is granted their human rights freely and those rights defended as a matter of course should they be breached, the world would be a better place. And I'm a girl who sees hate-speech as something that is vile and repugnant beyond measure because it sets things like discrimination, envy and blame in motion as ideas that can legitimately be applied to a demographic and individuals. Which ultimately results in things like fascism and exclusion.

It's all the same thing. All that's different is the scale. I'm not strong enough to fight this. I can take on people who propagate hate-speech very easily. I'm not scared of them. I can talk about what's bugging me right now, but I can't actually do anything. Not because I'm helpless, not because I'm too distressed to function. Because I have a very, very, good idea of how much mess I can make. The phrase 'blast radius' is not inappropriate. And the one person who can legitimately deny someone freedom of expression without blame or condemnation is themselves.

I could protest, point my finger, accuse. But it's just me on my own here and I'm not strong enough by myself. I'll fight tooth and claw for other peoples rights, but I don't matter that much.

Am going to hide under my duvet now and hope the world goes away for a while. There is a name for this feeling. Burn-out.
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May 2014

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