Wrongheaded About ‘Rights’

rape III don’t want to comment directly on the horrific and tragic rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon in a Melbourne park in the early hours last Wednesday. It is so sad and beyond anything that words can convey. I want to comment first on the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and second on women’s (so-called) rights.

Andrews is quite clearly stupid beyond the normal degree of stupidity that is increasingly evident among the political class. Among other inanities he reportedly broadcast this message to women:

“Go out with friends at night. Or don’t. Go about your day exactly as you intend, on your terms. Because women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.”

Apparently, “his comments have been met with a wave of approval online, with many women thanking him for his remarks.” They are simply deluded. He, on the other hand, is not only deluded but, much worse, recklessly irresponsible with the lives of others.

I am a father of two daughters. I can’t imagine ever advising them to go out alone where they liked and when they liked? That would be a form of abuse. No-one should be advised to be careless of their circumstances – least of all young women. The Victoria Police were right to advise women to be careful of their circumstances. This is one of the reported tweets, critical of the Victorian police, no doubt typical of many:

“Frankly I think Victoria Police should apologise for their victim-blaming and completely useless ‘advice’ following the murder of Eurydice Dixon. Don’t tell us to be more careful. Tell men they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they choose to commit a crime!”

I don’t want to be too damning of this sentiment. It comes from an emotional and passionate place. But it is silly, and the premier of a state has a duty to steer the conversation towards a measured place. He has abjectly failed in that duty. And to say that men have to “change” is bordering on the deranged. Men do not commit atrocities on women. Monsters do. Men protect women from monsters. That’s their job and most try to do it as they are able and as circumstances allow.

Change men’s behaviour? Let us first fix the courts, judges and sentencing
so that monsters like Jill Meagher’s killer go to jail and stay there.


I don’t know whether men nowadays understand their protective role as acutely as once they did. As just one example, in the dead of night, you take the trouble to take or walk a woman family member or friend or colleague home or otherwise ensure she reaches a point of safety. Perhaps that masculine role bears reinforcing among boys in homes and in schools. It can’t do harm. But I suspect that this is not the kind of “change” envisaged by Andrews and his leftist ilk.

We hear a lot about women’s rights. Let’s be clear: A young woman may well have a so-called right to walk through a rough neighborhood, even a Muslim-dominated rough neighborhood, alone in the dead of night wearing a skimpy blouse and miniskirt. But, really, is it wise or sensible to do so? Just a guess. I doubt being armed with a printed copy of Premier Andrews’ exhortation to women to go where they please would daunt monsters.

In general, what does having a right mean? Unfortunately, it means zilch unless you personally have the means to enforce it or can rely on others to enforce it on your behalf. Try exercising your right of free speech in China to criticise Xi Jinping and see how far it takes you. For that matter, try being too critical of Islam in the UK. Try expressing doubts about climate change at an Australian university.

This whole business of rights is misconceived. Benefits are mistaken for rights. We have a right to universal healthcare, it is often said; to housing; to education for our children, to warmth in winter, to clean water, to nourishing food, to safety in our homes and streets, and so on and so forth. No, we don’t. We have no inalienable right to any of these things; and I include free speech. The description “rights” is a misnomer. These “rights” are benefits which individuals and societies have to earn and constantly tend. And even then, they can go up in a puff of smoke for any individuals who find themselves outside of the protective cordon.

I think it is worthwhile to take a leap to North Korea and to Oscar Warmbier. He allegedly stole a poster from his hotel. Consequently, he was mistreated to death. Surely his rights were abridged. Come back home. Pensioners who can’t afford heating bills on a cold night have their rights abridged. People not attended to as quickly as their injuries justify at public hospitals have their rights abridged. Anyone capriciously assaulted, beaten or killed has their rights abridged. But what is a right when it can be taken away by circumstances? It is an illusory and empty right.

To make some rights into a living reality, at least for most people, most of the time, we must keep working hard to maintain our economy and our culture. To maintain our right not to be assaulted and perhaps killed we all, as individuals — men and, yes, women — have to keep our wits about us. The world is not a safe place. And we have no means at all of making it safe. Monsters have always been around and always will be.

7 thoughts on “Wrongheaded About ‘Rights’

  • Les Kovari says:

    Peter, you are one of the most outspoken and logical contributors of Quadrant and I both admire and share your views on most subjects. On one point I must disagree with you; our right to defend ourselves is not, in this case, abridged by circumstances. It has been taken away from us by our elected governments, state and federal. We are not permitted to carry even the most benign, non lethal defensive tool such as a pepper spray or a cattle prod to fend off attackers. To tell citizens, male or female, not to go out at night alone, is not the kind of attitude a politician or a police officer should be expected to demonstrate. The South Australian police have a motto which is displayed on all their letter heads, their patrol cars and it says “Keeping SA safe”. What a pretentious statement of untruth. We are importing criminal elements on a continuous basis and there is nothing we can do about it unless we are prepared to be labelled racist, un-Australian or worse. I despair at the way life in this beautiful country is heading.

  • commerce@internode.on.net says:

    “The description “rights” is a misnomer. These “rights” are benefits which individuals and societies have to earn and constantly tend.”
    Great line.
    Obvious to all clear-thinking people which by default excludes politicians

  • padraic says:

    It is obscene for those pushing for the feminisation of men to use this tragic death to push their sick ideology. As Peter rightly points out, it is monsters who do these terrible deeds. The traditional custom of men acting as protectors to women is now seen as part of the “patriarchy” spectrum and women are encouraged no longer to see men having such a role. Instead we are subject to movies etc showing women as super beings bashing up the baddies and putting them behind bars. Such roles used to be confined to male sheriffs and marshals in the Wild West – now it is a female doing it in the Northern Territory. Totally unrealistic and pathetic. This attitude is linked to the warped social philosophies doing the rounds in our centres of unlearning, epitomised by a statement made some time back by a Uni student on Q&A, when he stated “There is no good or evil, only differences of opinion.” He must have been a law undergraduate who was taught that both sides of a case have validity. That may be true, but only up to a point. Evil is real and always has been. Clever arguments can’t change that, but the legal profession has hit on a winner – “Mental Health”. No sooner does one hear on TV a report of a murder or some other atrocity than the newsreader in the same breath says that the perpetrator is suffering “mental illness” or his mother did not love him, etc, almost inferring that what was done is OK. This is a cop-out, a warped belief that no-one is capable of an evil deed and blaming some external factor, thus conforming with the equally warped mentality of the Q&A student.

  • Jody says:

    As the wonderful Dr. Jordan Peterson says (paraphrasing), young people are desperate to hear his message because they’re fed an unending diet of rights. The Peterson tsunami gathers momentum apace.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    Compared to the tsunami of change being bought about by Trump, Peteren’s spiels have about as much effect as a ripple in a backyard paddling pool.

    Mind you, a paddling pool probably looks pretty big to an infant

  • en passant says:

    You were doing well until …
    “… we must keep working hard to maintain our economy and our culture.”
    Who is the ‘we’ in this scenario? Our politicians, almost without exception are Formula One racing in the opposite globalist direction (having long since failed to realise that oil & water and barbarian & civilised Western cultures cannot mix. If you had written “… we must keep working hard to find the lowest possible level of human behaviour until we destroy our economy and our culture, then we will be truly appreciated by the world for being the sacrifice to globalism that is required to remove the stain of our guilt.” Now that makes more sense …

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