Access to the Internet is a Human Right

Fortunately, at this point the U.N. has little power to enforce its declarations. However, by using the language of rights so promiscuously, the U.N. undermines any real and stable notion of rights. It makes it more difficult to speak meaningfully about rights even as it tacitly gives states permission to employ political power to achieve lofty goals deemed worthy by the U.N. In this sense, the dumbing down of the concept of rights is not simply incoherent. It’s pernicious.




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7 comments on this post.
  1. Jonathan:


    Very well said! I have often wondered if it were possible to find out who drafted which portions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The reason for my wonder is that I know that Jacques Maritain worked on the Declaration, but was not the principal author.

  2. Barry A. McCain:

    That a piece like this needs to be written strikes me similarly as the necessity of declaration that “Boiling Water is Hot” by the Department of Natural Understanding for the Benefit of Human Safety, Security and Well-Being.

    Question: Is George Orwell spinning in his grave; is he drinking whiskey at 9:00 AM; or is he glad to have died before he came to see all this?

    Thanks for article, Mr. Mitchell. It was “right on.”

    God help us all.

  3. Barry A. McCain:

    I just realized that my previous post is ambiguous. Please allow me to clarify:

    The world is so backwards, and people so often look to the state for guidance in truth and virtue (and the State is all to happy oblige), that a clear, concise argument about exactly what a “right” is, is absolutely necessary. And that’s sad.

    Sometimes my prose gets muddled when I’m angry.

  4. Rob:

    At such times as these it might be appropriate to recall that the liberal tradition begins with the declaration that the only natural right is the right to self-preservation–not a right to life, to property, to free speech, etc. How far we’ve come! As many theorists in these late modern days have noted, essentially all rights we regard as fundamental, human, and even natural, in fact depend upon the artifice of the state for both definition and protection.

    If that is case, perhaps we need to reconsider the entire notion or language of rights altogether.

  5. Father Jonathan:

    This makes me think of a debate I had with a friend recently, spurred by the death of Jack Kevorkian, about doctor assisted suicide. He argued passionately for the “right to die” being something natural and inherent to human beings, but seemed quite puzzled by my assertion that life has inherent value. All of which is to say, I wonder if you might consider writing something about the interplay between rights and value. It fascinates me that our culture is so ready and willing to embrace the concept of a highly inclusive and ever expanding list of rights that are simply ours because we are alive, and yet we are only able to contemplate value in purely market terms.

  6. Jonathan:

    There was (from what I have been given to understand) a book written by Mary Ann Glendon called “Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse.” Your article reminded me that I want to read it. I think it is along very similar lines as your thought, Mark.

  7. John Gorentz:

    Good call.

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