Thursday, February 18, 2010

"This could become a human rights issue if you're not careful...."

  The above is a telling quote from this news story about the dispute over front-of-the-city-bus territory. This issue has NOTHING to do with human rights, but it does illustrate how "human rights" commissions have become a means of  threatening or actually taking  revenge on those who have offended or merely inconvenienced you:

"I feel there's discrimination against one group of people and that this could become a human rights issue if you're not careful," said Daiva Greenridge, a local resident who often uses the transit system with her young daughter.
  Reading those words induces the same feelings of despair as the comment from the thin-skinned reader I quoted in my last post, but after this story I found at least one comment that is much more heartening. "Fencerdad" hits the nail on the head when he writes:

I'm a parent who regularly rides the bus with my son in a stroller. When I see a handicapped person get on I'll have the stroller folded before the ramp is lowered to the sidewalk. This is, from my experience, what nearly everyone would do--and if they don't, the driver will intervene and ask that parent to move.

This is common courtesy and common sense. Once in a while, you'll come across someone who doesn't have either of those things. The problem with legislating basic social behaviour is that people will do nothing _but_ follow laws, and quit actually being courteous to one another.

This sort of law won't fix anyone's bad behaviour, but it will make other people resentful and less inclined to help anyone. The few people who would be targeted by this proposed rules won't change anyways--they'll grumble, complain, refuse to move, get tossed off the bus, fined, and file a civil lawsuit that will be thrown out of court. How does that help anyone?

Basically, we need to quit dividing people with laws, and (re?)learn to get along with each other. Yes, there will always be a few bad apples. Yes, we need laws for severe crimes. We don't, however, need endless petty laws for endless petty squabbles with jerks.

1 comment:

  1. Heaven help us if it becomes a human rights offence to hurt the feelings of people with no common sense, and no sense of common courtesy.