Rebranding Human Rights

Sam Leith on the Bulger killers:

it is precisely when the crimes are terrible that you most need the law. if anyone harmed my daughter, I would want them tortured to death – which is why I am the last person who should sit on thy jury.

This is a point that can never be reinforced enough, and I am glad Leith’s sub-editor chose this turn-of-phrase as the article’s ‘pull’ quote in the print edition of the Evening Standard.
Human Rights are inconvenient and much maligned, as I have said before. I wonder whether they could do with a bit of a freshening up, a rebrand? They are the perfect issue for a Sir Humphrey-style poll, where the phrasing of the question pre-determines the answer. Ask people whether we should strip all rights, protections an anonymity from child killers, many would answer in the affirmative. Ask the same people whether we should introduce Deep South Style lynch-mobs, they would certainly answer in the negative.
Perhaps it’s time for politicians to talk less about ‘Human Rights’ and more about ‘Anti-Lynching’ measures. They would be referring to the same laws, of course, but spun in a way that emphasises their key purpose, which is to maintain a level of human decency in times of intense human emotion and popular outrage.
That, and more comprehensive teching of Human Rights issues in schools, as part of citizenship classes. These principles need to be at the core of what we tell our youngsters about politics.

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