There has been lots of talk that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley wants very much to run for president in 2016 or perhaps 2020, and yesterday he gave the surest sign that he will indeed be a candidate in the Democratic primaries: he said something irredeemably stupid.
In a long and very boring interview with CNN yesterday O’Malley said that “WiFi is a human right.” The most salient thing about the bankruptcy of liberalism is how it turns every good thing that you can imagine (In-and-Out cheeseburgers?) into a fundamental human right, which must be politicized and delivered by our welfare state.
I’ll just turn it over to Maurice Cranston (hat tip to Bill Evers for alerting me to this), the great political philosopher who taught for decades at the London School of Economics:
“A human right, by definition, is something that no one, anywhere, may be deprived of without a grave affront to justice. There are certain actions that are never permissible, certain freedoms that should never be invaded, certain things that are sacred. If a declaration of human rights is to be what it purports to be, a declaration of universal moral rights, it must be confined to this sphere of discourse.
“If rights of a different order are introduced, everything is immediately slackened: the sharp, clear imperative becomes a vague wish. ‘It would be a splendid thing,’ people might say, ‘for everyone to have holidays with pay, a splendid thing for everyone to have social security,…and one day, perhaps, all these beautiful ideals will be realized.’
“Thus the effect of a universal declaration that is overloaded with affirmations of economic and social rights is to push the political and civil rights out of the realm of the morally compelling into the twilight world of Utopian aspirations.”
(From “Are There Any Human Rights?” Daedalus, Vol. 112, No. 4, Fall, 1983.)
About 10 years back, by the way, the San Francisco board of supervisors (natch) declared free WiFi to be a fundamental human right, which they promised to deliver unto the masses of Baghdad by the Bay. When the board received the price tag for securing this fundamental human right, they suddenly decided that free WiFi wasn’t a fundamental human right after all, and resumed their ranking with the worst human rights oppressors on the planet.
P.P.S. When ascertaining human rights, by the way, it is helpful if you can identify humans. The radical left has a hard time with this these days.