There is a term which ought to be in better use – ‘human rights inflation’. This is the means by which the currency of ‘human rights’ – which used to mean things like ‘the right to life’ – becomes, thanks to the addition of endless spurious additional demands, severely undermined.
The latest example of this trend has come to light this morning thanks to a Brazilian far-leftist who claims to be working as a rapporteur for the United Nations. As listeners to the Today programme will know (about 2 hours 37 minutes in here) according to Raquel Rolnik the latest inalienable human right is apparently the ‘right to a spare bedroom.’
Anybody who has not heard the claims of this absurd figure railing against the UK government’s alleged ‘bedroom tax’ really ought to follow the link and experience the taste. This is a woman capable of making statements so ridiculous, presumptuous and idiotic that she manages to make Grant Shapps (who comes onto the programme after her) appear statesmanlike.
Of course it is easy to simply laugh away such people as Ms Rolnik. Except that what she and the increasingly large number of people who speak the same language of ‘rights’ are doing is undermining the very basis of the post-war ‘human rights’ settlement. Thanks to their translation of any and all grievances and demands into the language of ‘rights’, they are causing an inflation of the whole concept. Indeed you could easily claim that ‘human rights’ are now suffering a kind of hyper-inflation. While the right to life is being trampled upon in significant ways all over the world, people like Ms Rolnik manage to render increasingly meaningless a currency which is arguably more needed than ever. The result is that at some point there will be a collapse of the whole system. After all, who is to say? If living in a one-bedroom flat is now to suffer a fundamental human-rights abuse, how to get remotely exercised about the gassing of children or the desolation of whole nations?
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.