Human rights

Theresa May and Rodrigo Duterte Both Find 'Human Rights' Annoyingly Inconvenient

Security threats don't excuse the abolition of due process.

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Here's U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, one of the world's most respected leaders, talking about what she will to do to keep her country safe:

And here's Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, one of the world's least respected leaders, talking about what he will do to keep his country safe:

"My mouth has no due process," Duterte said in a nationally televised speech on August 7th…Duterte has warned drug peddlers to surrender themselves or face summary execution. "My order is shoot to kill you," he said on August 6th. "I don't care about human rights, you'd better believe me."

There are, of course, huge differences between May's approach to anti-terror measures and Duterte's approach to the war on drugs. Let me say that one more time for the kids in the back: I am not claiming direct moral equivalence between Rodrigo Duterte and Theresa May. I am, however, noting a troubling similarity between their approaches to one important matter.

May is proposing using existing legal mechanisms to "derogate" or depart from the parts of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibit arbitrary detention of individuals by the state. This requires a declaration of a state of emergency, martial law, or some other action that indicates the "life of the nation" is threatened. She is likely considering such a move.

By contrast, Duterte's legal theory seems to be "Fuck it, I do what I want." He is likely going to do whatever the hell he wants.

(In case you're wondering how Duterte handles Islamic terrorism, here's a hint from today's news: "When I say crush them, you have to destroy everything including lives.")

But here's where they both end up: Human rights and due process are all well and good until they get in the way of something politicians or law enforcement deem a priority, at which point they become negotiable.

And that argument is troublingly familiar: For a domestic example, recall the "No Fly, No Buy" bill pushed by Democrats (and backed by Donald Trump), which was yet another proposal to deny basic rights to people simply for being under suspicion of affiliation to terror.

In her remarks immediately after the attacks, May clearly already had this particular infringement of due process on her wishlist, saying, "if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorist-related offences—even apparently less serious offences—that is what we will do." (Note that May increasingly lumps terrorism, typically used to described violent actions, in with extremism, a much broader term which can refer to systems of beliefs.)

It is now a standard part of political posturing to signal seriousness about security by indicating that you are willing to violate human rights, as commonly understood by the community of nations. This is not going to end well.

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  1. I cannot believe you are claiming a direct moral equivalence between Rodrigo Duterte and Theresa May.

    SMDH.

    1. Let’s compare her to Erdogan then?

    2. I can’t believe you aren’t freaked out by her saying if human rights laws get in the way of her agenda, she’ll do away with human rights laws.

      1. May isn’t going to gun down people like Duterte brags about. Rise up from the fainting couch and unclutch your pearls.

        HMG’s government has tossed out human rights by harassing and prosecuting online islamophobes for years now. Its not like this is anything particularly new, just that they might pay some attention to actual killers in addition to merely mouthy politically incorrect people on Facebook

        1. because locking people up and destroying their lives in numerous other ways (financial, character destruction….) besides killing them is sooooooooo much better.

          I would argue it is worse and causes more suffering.

        2. For a politician, the first priority is to get elected or re-elected. The second priority is so far in the rear view mirror that it approaches insignificance.

          May is saying what she needs to say to win. After the election, if her actions have any relation to her verbiage, it will also be solely based on political considerations.

      2. I’ve learned over the years to be more than a little skeptical when progressives talk about “human rights.” They rarely mean things like protecting the individual from coercion by the State and more often than not mean prosecuting people for offending someone who is part of a protected class.

  2. We can only hope that May’s willingness to violate human rights will apply only to tightly circumspect terrorism cases, like in America.

  3. I think you stopped counting entirely too early.

  4. “Duterte’s legal theory seems to be “Fuck it, I do what I want.”

    Sounds legit

    1. FYTW in it’s full glory.

  5. I am not claiming direct moral equivalence between Rodrigo Duterte and Theresa May.

    I’m trying to figure out which should be more offended if you did.

  6. But here’s where they both end up: Human rights and due process are all well and good until they get in the way of something politicians or law enforcement deem a priority, at which point they become negotiable

    In fairness, that where May ends up.

    What Duterte said was “I don’t care about human rights, you’d better believe me.”

  7. …we will change those laws to keep British people safe.

    Any word on the right to armed self defense?

  8. In fairness, human rights laws in the UK probably include things like “the right not to be offended by a naughty t-shirt”

    1. And yet they frequently engage in public rumpy pumpy.

      It doesn’t make any sense!

  9. “There are, of course, huge differences between May’s approach to anti-terror measures and Duterte’s approach to the war on drugs”

    Seems to me that it’s pretty much a difference of attitude and degree. May acts as though she feels bad about it; Duterte says, “Fuck it.” May is willing to revoke someone’s right to freedom; Duterte is willing to revoke their right to life.

    But the difference in degree doesn’t make much difference because, once you accept that some civil rights violations are okay, more civil rights violations become much easier to justify. It’s a huge step to go from believing that civil rights should not be abandoned to believing it’s okay in the face of terrorism. Once you’ve taken that step, it’s not much further to accept those civil rights violations in the name of fighting drugs, “human trafficking”, hate, insulting speech, public school tardiness, jaywalking, etc…

  10. Duterte has no regard for human rights. May is up for election tomorrow, and will likely memory-hole her statements once it’s over.

    1. Right. A few years down the road, remember you once thought that.

  11. “There are, of course, huge differences between May’s approach to anti-terror measures and Duterte’s approach to the war on drugs.”

    No there isn’t, the approaches are essentially the same. The only difference is that May has a ‘system’ to hide behind and blame for human rights abuses, while Duterte doesn’t. Just because one approach looks more polished and ‘legal’ doesn’t make it so. The end result is the same, a violation of natural human rights. Does it really matter that May asks for permission first?

    1. Does it really matter that May asks for permission first?

      Well, in theory, someone might say “no”.

  12. the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibit arbitrary detention of individuals by the state

    Thank heavens the US isn’t bound by such silly restrictions.

    1. Have you read the articles of the ECHR? Silly restrictions is right;

      ARTICLE 16
      Restrictions on political activity of aliens
      Nothing in Articles 10 (freedom of expression), 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) shall be regarded as preventing the High Contracting Parties from imposing restrictions on the political activity of aliens.

      It’s like a weird European version of Alberto Gonzalez wrote the thing.

  13. As long as we treat terror attacks as a police matter, we’ll keep getting them. Yeah, yeah, I know, better a thousand terrorists go free to prevent the arrest of one innocent man, yadda yadda…

    1. Yeah, yeah, I know, better a thousand innocent men arrested than one terrorist go free, yadda yadda…

    2. As long as we treat terror attacks as a police matter, we’ll keep getting them.

      When did we start doing that?

  14. Note that May increasingly lumps terrorism, typically used to described violent actions, in with extremism, a much broader term which can refer to systems of beliefs.

    Why am I noting this? I thought the violence was what defined them as extremists. The same way Fundamentalist Christian was just code for ‘retarded’. Are there a bunch of non-violent Muslim extremists running around? Does that mean that there’s really white nationalism, extremist white nationalism, and violent extremist white nationalism and we’ve/I’ve just been wrongly lumping them together using the one term all along?

    1. The way I understand it, terrorism is the actual action of committing violence/crime, and extremism is just having radical, unorthodox beliefs. So conflating the two could become a huge issue, since laws getting tougher on extremism could theoretically result in people being punished for their beliefs/thoughtcrime.

      1. “could theoretically result in people being punished for their beliefs/thoughtcrime.”

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure we passed this milestone a while ago.

      2. extremism is just having radical, unorthodox beliefs

        Examples? I’ll agree that there are plenty or lots that might fall on the ‘freedom fighter’ side of the rebel/terrorist dichotomy. I just find it odd that we *must* make the distinction here when in virtually any other context we deliberately fail to make the distinction and/or aren’t just assumed to have/hold/understand their beliefs. We don’t distinguish inner city violence and inner city extremism, handgun violence and handgun extremism, environmentalists and environmental extremists… it seems like a fabrication or a distinction without a difference.

        Maybe, as Curt indicates below, the distinction vanished down the memory hole ages ago.

        1. I’m not really sure what inner city or handgun extremism would be, if you follow the definition that extremism is psychological, without necessarily including action. Would handgun extremism be a fanatical obsession with handguns? Maybe even collecting handguns? That’s pretty different than actually shooting someone with a handgun. It seems like the term “extremism” is usually used when talking about religion.

          It’s hard to give examples because I think the term “extremism” is subjective, but I guess maybe the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s incredibly offensive and pretty extreme, but as far as I know, they’ve just done a lot of picketing and committed no actual violence.

          I still think the whole point of the little blurb was to make the distinction between people being punished for an actual crime v. their beliefs.

  15. A right is inalienable and inviolable. That both of these pukes state they can preempt human rights, for any reason, belies the truth that they do not believe in rights, but in privilege. Telling.

    1. Our entire criminal justice system works because those who should lined up and shot, judges, say rights are indeed alienable and the more efficient it makes the sausage so much the better.

      Proximity + diversity = war

  16. I suspect that what Teresa May is referring to is the passel of insane laws passed by leftists in the UK and EU that allow Muslims to wreak havoc with impunity because questioning their barbarity is a violation of their ‘human rights’.

    1. Then, whomever is managing her twitter feed deserves to be shitcanned. This is distinct from a slanted ‘Ted Cruz hates liberalism’ gaffe/inelegance/misquote.

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