I saw a meme/poster/thing on Facebook that said “Every time something really bad happens, people cry out for safety and the government answers by taking rights away from good people.” The quote is attributed to Penn Jillette, of Penn and Teller. Whether or not he actually said it, I’m not sure. I could google it but that would give too much credit to the quote.
People like to use the word “rights” to defend their actions. If you speak out and say something hateful, you have a right to freedom of speech. If you pull a gun on someone, you have a right to bear arms. Protest at a funeral, you have a right to free exercise of religious practices. They are entitled to these “rights”, yet they self-righteously deny people the right to love and marry. They have a right to be hateful. Guns in the hands of the wrong people gives them the right to be violent, but people are being denied the right to celebrate LOVE in a joyous union.
I also read on Facebook, a friend of a friend who commented on a status update about New Zealand passing a bill (convincingly I might add) giving the right for gays to marry. This FOF (friend of a friend) said they are “just not in favour of changing the definition of marriage.” Who defines what a marriage is? The bible? The church? I am married, but I don’t go to church and was not married in a church, so should my relationship be classified as something other than a “marriage”? “Give them the same rights and call it something else,” FOF argues. What does it matter what it’s called? Why is it so offensive to have it be called a MARRIAGE, just like it is for straight people? And tell me, how does it affect you? The only people who don’t want these rights for everyone are people who aren’t affected by it what so ever.
Similarly, when something terrible happens, like the rape (and subsequent death) of the girl on the bus in India or the abduction and murder of Jill Meagher, people talk about our rights to be or go where we want to, when we want to, without being harmed.
I don’t deny that it should be a basic human right to be able to walk down any street at any time of day, on our own, and make it home safely. Sadly, I don’t think it is a reality. And as much as I’d like to tell my daughter, if I had one, that it is ok to walk alone in Surfers, at 3 am, is that the reality? Not really.
My mum was a single mother of three girls. One thing I always remember her telling us was to not put ourselves “in that situation.” This is not saying anyone is asking for it or that they deserve it or that they are in any way at fault for being where they are. NO ONE asks or deserves to be assaulted, abused, harmed in any way, much less murdered. And in a perfect world it wouldn’t happen, but it does.
What if could teach women that they can do or be whatever or whoever they want, but we also taught them to think twice, to question situations, that they don’t always have to be strong and independent. What if we taught them that there is nothing weak or wrong with having a friend walk you home? Because there may come a time that her actions and decisions in a certain situation save her life. You can’t control what others do, but you can control what you do.
Every day I see news stories that make me wonder why we ever bought a child into this world. The most recent story was about 23 year old Sunil Tripathi – still so young – who was mistakenly identified as one of the Boston bombers from the security footage. This young man’s body was found in a river. With very little details available, it left me wondering if he had taken his own life or if someone had decided to take justice into their own hands. I worry about my son, as he grows up, what kind of trouble will he find himself in? Possibly by simply looking like someone who committed a terrible crime.
I wish I could believe in a world where our rights protect us, but it is not the world we live in today. It’s not the world that women in the middle east live in. It’s not the world the Newton, Connecticut children lived in. It’s not the world Sunil Tripathi or Jill Meagher lived in, either. Bad things happen. Sometimes foregoing some of our rights can stop them from happening. I guess the question is, what is more important?
Check out this video. Proof that people only want rights and laws when it suits them. Food for thought.