Even the worst people
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
We can all agree that human rights are important.
Protecting basic dignity, respect, and the safety of others is something we’re all on board with. Human rights are perhaps the most fundamental value there is. We’re all human, and we all deserve basic compassion in the way we treat others (and thus, how we would like to be treated).
There are some very terrible people in the world. People who horrifically abuse others, who have zero regard for anyone else’s well-being. Often they are sociopathic or psychopathic, literally incapable of feeling any remorse. In a perfect world, these people wouldn’t exist. In a just world, they’d all be locked away or otherwise incapacitated so they can’t harm anyone else.
It’s easy to say that these people don’t deserve human rights. They’ve shown no regard for the rights of others, often on many occasions—why shouldn’t they deserve the same treatment? It’s especially easy to be in this mindset if the person’s behaviour is truly heinous, or if they’ve specifically hurt you, or someone you love.
But like it or not, human rights, by definition, apply to everybody. The law protects all of us, and it’s not fair to break the law just because someone else did the same thing. Most human rights laws include a right to life—in areas with the death penalty, that right is broken. If you committed a certain crime (usually, but not always, murder), you are not deserving of the right to life in the eyes of the state. I believe the death penalty is unjust and flawed in many ways, but that’s a whole different article to write.
Many awful people live incarcerated in prisons that deny them basic human rights. This could include the right to adequately hygienic conditions, food, dignity, or a safe environment. Some argue that torture is justified on certain people to obtain information, or to punish them for their actions. No one deserves to be tortured, and to suggest this mindset lowers us to a level of the condemned.
When you suggest a murderer does not deserve to live, you are denying them of their human right to life. When you express hope that a rapist gets raped in jail, you are suggesting there are circumstances where raping someone is justified. When you suggest someone who beat someone brutally should be brutally beaten, you’re denying them the human right of safety and protection from assault.
Look—these are bad people. Frankly, to us, these people are the lowest of the low, and probably do deserve to be treated in the ways they treated others. But a human rights code includes everyone, and that includes the bad apples. If we want to create a world where everyone is given fair treatment, we need to treat everyone fairly.
Even the horrible criminals who don’t deserve it.