Via Y-RIGHTS – Subject: The Big Question: Who Decides?
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1991 14:16:00 EDT
Sender: “Y-Rights: Kid/Teen Rights Discussion Group”
From: “Y-Rights@SJUVM Listowner” <KUDUT@HAMP.HAMPSHIRE.EDU>
Subject: The Big Question: Who Decides?
One of the questions that routinely comes up whenever anyone discusses “Rights” is “Who decides what rights?” (or “Who decides what rights are Right?”)
This question is particularly difficult when talking about the rights of children and teenagers. Usually the best answer for “Who decides?” is “The individual of which we’re talking about”. Unfortunately, there is a very basic assumption that lies very deeply rooted within many cultures which says that children don’t know what’s right.
Speaking for a democratic society, one of the deepest conceptions of a democratic society is that we have the Right to not do “what is Right”. It’s like people that say that children don’t know “what’s best for them”. A Democratic society gives each person the Right to do as they wish (within reason), whether or not it’s “Best” for them.
People saying they know what’s best reminds me of the way that slaves were thought of 120+ years ago. The slave-owners knew what was best for their slaves. Parents know best. Teachers know best. The business that runs under the assumption that they (the administration) know “best” for their workers is bound to have VERY unhappy workers (unless their assumptions were correct. Even then, just merely having input in your environment is usually enough to keep a person happy. It means having a choice that makes a difference).
Of course, people like myself (I can’t speak for anyone else on this list ) think they know best too. I think that my ideas that say that people under 18 shouldn’t be treated as sub-human is Right. In that sense, I am no better than anyone else who says they know Right. Of course, my idea applies to EVERYONE, as in “No one deserves to be treated as sub-human. You were born on this earth. That is all the qualifications that you need to deserve to be treated like a human being. When we start birthing off-earth, then we’ll talk”.
Basically, once again, here lies my question (as I manage to go off on a tangent yet once again ): Who decides what is Right? Should a society have any say in what its people think and do?