Exercising My Uncivil Rights

I am going to make an assumption here than may prove to be incorrect. I don’t mean it to be, but I am somewhat unversed in the law and so must feel my way.

I am an Australian citizen, in Australia. I am not in the military – and so not subject to military law – and I’m not a prisoner of a state or federal institution – so presumably have all the civil rights that the next person has. They have not been suspended.

I would like to think at this point that I share this happy state of affairs with Americans, Canadians, and Britons, as well as any number of people in Scandinavian and European countries…but I know at the outset that there can be widely differing rights. We can’t own a military rifle here in Australia except in some especial cases – in the USA they can. They have other restrictions from which we are free ( we can ask for black or white coffee and get it without a racial argument ). And so on though each nation. Different cities have different civilities

I wonder if this applies in converse – are there different uncivil rights for each country?

” What is an uncivil right? “, you may ask. Broadly speaking, it’s the freedom one may have in a particular place to be unpleasant, unhelpful, unwashed, and undesirable. Add to that unthinking, ungrateful, and unintelligent. Really…all the horrible fun stuff.

Of course your uncivil rights may impinge upon other’s civil rights. The oaf on the train roaring and reeking comes to mind…though not to the attention of the transport police often enough.

Unpleasant speech is proscribed at various levels – here in Australia we’re not allowed to incite racial, religious, or ethnic hatred under penalty of law. It may also apply to inciting sexual or political hatred as well, but there seems to be a lot of this passing back and forth anyway. I think you are still allowed to incite hatred for inanimate objects like publicly funded sculptures or for food like liver and lima beans.

You are allowed to speak in an unpleasant manner as long as the words that issue are legally defensible. No-one has yet been able to legislate an accent.

You can certainly be unhelpful and get away with it…though not in life-threatening situations or those where a citizen is expected to assist the police with their enquiries. Then you have to do wheat you think is the right thing and trust that  lawyers will later think of it in those terms. But you are allowed to watch as people are drenched by water at bus stops or become tangled with the dog and the groceries.

Lack of hygiene is so common that it nearly escapes censure. Unfortunately.

Unintelligent? Well, if you pass below a certain level you are entitled to sympathy and assistance and no-one should deny it you. If you are in the operational range but decide to remain stupid this is not as civil – but again you can restrict yourself if you wish. Unthinking is no crime…if it were, would most popular music of the last century exist? Indeed, sitting on a porch in the evening with a long drink and no responsibilities is a delightful form of unthinking until the cat drags in a half-dead rat.

Ingratitude rarely collects an earthly punishment. It’s one of the deadliest of ancient sins, and one of the keenest cuts that can be perceived. The mistake the ungrateful make is to think that they get away with it unnoticed. It is never unnoticed, and never forgotten. Perhaps we should put it in the category of a bad purchase – you’ll regret it when you finally pay for it.

 

 

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