Reuters reported yesterday that 78% of 27,000 people polled in 26 countries "believe access to the Internet is a fundamental right." I submit that this sentiment, popular as it may be, is utter balderdash.
It demeans the important subject of fundamental human rights when we shovel trivia into this important category. The US Declaration of Independence famously asserted: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." That's a nice, modest, defensible statement. People have a fundamental right to live, and the government ought not to deprive anyone of life apart from compelling mitigation. People have a fundamental right to liberty, and likewise the government ought not to deprive anyone of liberty without due and just cause. People have a fundamental right to the pursuit of happiness (a phrase not so easy to interpret as you might presume, but not entirely indecipherable either). Those are modest and timeless assertions, and ones that I believe to be true.
The fundamental human rights are those for which I would gladly give my life to secure them for my children. They are those that motivated our forefathers to risk everything in their protection on our behalf. I would not die to secure DSL to my posterity.
BARBER'S LAW OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: If your great-grandparents could not have possibly had it, then it is not a fundamental human right.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to an MRI.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to air travel.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to cable TV.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to a five-day work week.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to retirement.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to own a house.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to Internet access.
- You do not have a fundamental human right to a car.
Yes, I want all of those things (except for retirement). None of them are bad things (except for cable TV and Internet access sometimes). But people better than you have lived their entire lives without any of those things. Jesus, as far as I know, lived His entire life without any of those things.
There are fundamental human rights. They are imperiled in many places in this world. We ought to be concerned on behalf of those whose fundamental human rights are being deprived. But sometimes it makes me sick to know that Christian believers in many parts of the world do not have basic religious liberty and yet go unnoticed, but the world goes nuts that China censors the Internet.</rant>
I feel better now.