Victim Of Domestic Abuse Sues GPS Company For Helping Her Assailant

from the it's-the-tool dept

Michael Scott points us to the news of a new lawsuit that hopefully doesn't get very far, but which does highlight the frequency with which third parties are sued these days, not because they have any actual liability, but because they have money. In this case, a woman is suing a GPS vehicle tracking service, Foxtrax Vehicle Tracking, because her domestic partner used the service to figure out where she was and to attack her. It sounds as though the guy put the tracking device on the woman's car in order to stalk her. It's difficult to think that anyone could find the company liable here for the actions of the guy. I'm sure it's upsetting that the guy was able to track her, and she has every right to press all sorts of charges against the guy. But the GPS tracking company was merely the technology provider.

However, this is yet another example of what I've called "Steve Dallas lawsuits," after a Bloom County cartoon strip, I remembered from decades ago, where the character Steve Dallas (a lawyer, who gets beaten up by Sean Penn when he tried to take his photograph -- some things never change), explains why after going through all the options on who to sue, he chooses to sue the camera manufacturer, the made-up Nikolta, because it's "a major corporation with gobs of liquid cash...."


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  1.  
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    Joseph Durnal, May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:26am

    What about the government?

    They put the satellites in space that receive the GPS signals to allow it to be tracked, and my understanding of the technology is that it uses the mobile phone network to report back the position. There are so many people to sue, but the government has the most money (well, that depends on your point of view as well).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:28am

    it all depends. did the company allow or install a device on a car that this guy didnt own?

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:37am

    If you want to make something criminal...

    It should be illegal to NOT teach somebody self defense.

    Or... perhaps somebody should sue this girl for not owning a gun? Not bothering to take a year or two in aikido, karate, kung fu, krav maga... fucking something!

    If she cannot protect herself, then by what right does she expect to be protected?

    *sigh*

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:41am

    Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Er, I don't know about that one. This woman is a victim. Whether she ever attempted to take steps to protect herself is irrelevant to the outcome, which was that she could not do so.

    Her only sin is using her victimization to try for a money grab. Somehow I get the impression it was her lawyer's idea, not hers....

     

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  5.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Yeah, so killing defenseless babies should be perfectly okay.

    Also, Marines or other seriously well-trained professionals should totally be able to beat their wives because they'll obviously be stronger and better-trained than them.

    And no way should the cops that they pay with my taxes even bother trying to protect the victims, and judges should scoff at requests for restraining orders, because it is totally the victim's fault for not being able to defeat everyone despite size and strength limitations.

    I totally agree with you. People who can't protect themselves should just stop whining and hire bodyguards. Especially babies.

     

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  6.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I DO despise the "I'm a victim" mindset.

    But, irregardless, we know nothing of this tale aside from the GPS tracking, alleged violence, and pending lawsuit.

     

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  7.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    No, you've managed to miss the point entirely. Turn about, look harder. It's the warehouse sized object which says "learn self defense" and espouses sentiments of teaching (at a minimum) basic martial arts as part of the everybody's curriculum.

     

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  8.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    By 'warehouse sized', do you mean 'non-specific'? If my understanding is correct, then you fail.

    You said: If she cannot protect herself, then by what right does she expect to be protected?

    That's pretty specific, and could apply to defenseless babies just as well as it could to the woman that you specified. There are an awful lot of rights of protection here in America, and, so far as I know, none of them have anything to do with how well you can defend yourself during a physical assault.

    If you didn't mean 'non-specific', then please clarify your clarifying statement.

     

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  9.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    ima gonna sue hammer makers

    cause they helped with me getitng hit in head with a hammer...LOL
    YUP fine and stupid. PEOPLE like htis shuold get a real hamer up the head and be totally removed form the gene pool maybe the assault knocked some marbles loose.

    ITS THE PERSON WHO ASSAULTED YOU NOT THE TECHNOLOGY
    if you believe otherwise then we should reclassify.....well everything thats ever been a weapon and require monitored vid cam use at all times of these objects.

    I CAN SEE the cost of pencils quadrupling over night
    and the entire system of education and building grinding to a halt
    WOOT the end of the world as we know it....and i feel fine

     

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  10.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    *sigh*

    To be specific: It is my belief that able-bodied adults need to be responsible for securing their own rights.

    Realistically speaking: Any right which you cannot personally enforce is a right you do not have.

     

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    Alan Gerow (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    While I do believe in self-reliance and self-defense, I don't agree with the sentiments of the original poster to the extent he does in culpability. That aside, I think your tossing around babies (which is fun) is missing the point he was trying to make.

    Children are not legally considered adults, and are under the care & supervision of someone else. So, in essence, it's the parents that are responsible for providing safety to the child. The child is not responsible for providing its own safety in the same regard.

    Police generally aren't a reliable service to prevent crime against someone. They are a service to find those responsible and bring them to courts. So, placing your faith in the police for protection is idiotic. You are responsible first and foremost for your own safety, and a parent is responsible for the safety of their child. The police are simply clean-up, not prevention. What do you think the likelihood a police officer is going to happen to be on the dark street a woman is who is getting mugged is on, or could get there in time to stop the crime? They may help find the mugger and prevent future crimes, but to that person on that street that night, the police won't help her from become a victim ... but a gun or karate could have. She's not responsible for what happened to her, the mugger is 100%, but she also didn't take many steps to preserve her own safety other than to sign off and let someone else take care of that for her. It's better to be alive than it is to be right (that's my core driving rule ... when in doubt, yield right-of-way, it's better to be alive than right).

    A baby technically DOES have bodyguards, and they generally call them mom & dad.

     

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  12.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    *sigh*

    You really believe that?

    You think that I should just suck it up if my Marine husband decided to beat on me?

    Now, I am reasonably well-trained, but I'm also 4'10 against his 6'0 and military training. But I shouldn't complain about it unless I can defend myself? Huh.

    That's a very strange way of thinking, and I absolutely disagree with it. I mean, there are so many holes there that it's not even funny.

    But, hey, welcome to America, where everyone can have an opinion.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    She Should Win If ...

    The company was aware of what he was using the tracking for. If she can prove that they knew he was using it to stalk and harass her, then they should be held liable. Otherwise they shouldn't have to worry about it

     

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    Hulser (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I DO despise the "I'm a victim" mindset.

    So...simply stating that the woman is a victim is an example of the "I'm a victim" mindset? It seems like you're falsely equating the simple term "victim" with some broader, subjective idea of responsibility.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "That's a very strange way of thinking, and I absolutely disagree with it. I mean, there are so many holes there that it's not even funny."
    Kindly enlighten me, as that is the purpose of civilized debate.

     

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  16.  
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    Danny, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    So somehow its unfair to expect her to protect herself but it is fair to expect this GPS provider to have somehow known what that guy's intentions were.

    I suppose the next time I'm hacked I'll find out what OS the hacker used and sue them because MS, Apple, Red Hat, etc... should have known that the hacker would use their OS in such a manner.

    If I have a neighbor that plays loud music at all hours of the night I'll sue musician whose album was playing because Vanilla Ice should have know his music would be played like that.

    And if my car is broken into does this mean I get to sue the maker of the tools that the thief used since Black & Decker should have known their tools could be used that way?

     

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    Comboman, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Gamechanger

    It's difficult to think that anyone could find the company liable here for the actions of the guy.

    That would be true except for this statement from the linked article:

    The lawsuit also claims that Foxtrax at some point was notified of the situation involving Jane Doe, "but refused to discontinue aiding and abetting" Jack Doe, "purely for the sake of profit."

    It's unclear how the woman or her lawyer would know that, but if it's true it would certainly put some responsibility on the tracking company.

     

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  18.  
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    Hulser (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Realistically speaking: Any right which you cannot personally enforce is a right you do not have.

    Wow. Just...wow. This is either a brilliant troll or you just flat out didn't think before you posted. Not that the US constitution is the end-all-be-all for defining rights, but it's a good place to start, so let's take just three examples...

    "First Amendment - Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, Freedom of Religion, and of assembly; right to petition"

    So, according to the Lobo Santo Rule, if I can't beat up the crowd of people who come to knock me off my soap box, I really don't have the right to free speech.

    "Fourth Amendment - Protection from unreasonable search and seizure."

    If I don't have enough guns to fight off the police when they come to my house with a bad warrant, I don't have a right not to be searched unreasonably.

    "Eighth Amendment - Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment."

    If I don't have Jason Bourne-like fighting skills, then it's OK if some government spooks waterboard me.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Gamechanger

    Even assuming that no such notice was ever provided, there is still a potentially viable action against the service provider given that it offers a low cost service for tracking merely one vehicle. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that its policies when this service is provided are deficient in various respects.

    It is also useful to note for the benefit of some commenters that the named defendant is a service provider, and not a product manufacturer. Many times this important distinction is overlooked.

     

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  20.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "Wow. Just...wow. This is either a brilliant troll or you just flat out didn't think before you posted. Not that the US constitution is the end-all-be-all for defining rights, but it's a good place to start, so let's take just three examples..."

    While I disagree with his overall conclusion, I think you're missing Lobo's point. For example:

    "So, according to the Lobo Santo Rule, if I can't beat up the crowd of people who come to knock me off my soap box, I really don't have the right to free speech."

    What he said was that any right YOU CANNOT PERSONALLY ENFORCE is a right you do not have. Why? Because you cannot reasonably expect others to enforce this right for you in perpetuity. Police make bad decisions. Governments get overthrown or don't do their jobs. The courts fuck it up. So unless you personally can enforce your right to free speech, you can't gurauntee that you in fact have it at all.

    And using your example, you've proven he's correct in that sense. If you get knocked off of your soap box, your right to free speech is meaningless prior to an outside enforcer. Did the students at Kent State have the right to free speech? They were supposed to....then they got shot by the Nat'l Guard, so it turns out they never had it at all in practice. If they'd had enough manpower and/or weapons to fight back, then they would have retained their rights, but they didn't, so they didn't.

    "If I don't have enough guns to fight off the police when they come to my house with a bad warrant, I don't have a right not to be searched unreasonably."

    Again, for all practical purposes, no you don't. If the police choose to violate your rights, and the courts don't slap them down, then did you ever truly have the right to begin with? Do we actually have a privacy right in this country when it comes to wiretaps? I would submit that for all practical purposes we don't, even if we are supposed to.

    "If I don't have Jason Bourne-like fighting skills, then it's OK if some government spooks waterboard me."

    Don't confuse "rights" with right and wrong. No, it isn't okay. But again, if you can't enforce that right yourself and are relying on a shakey group of others to do it for you, do you actually have that right at all?

    Now, what Lobo is missing is the fact that our social construct as a people make this a lot more sticky than his black and white assertion. While our rights are largely enforced at the whim of powerful "others", those others are usually in some way responsible back to us in a way that holds them accountable. This can take the form of votes, media pressures, buying power, tax dollars, etc. This is the reason that rights in our country are violated by a feature creep rather than recklessly, so as to dilute any pushback....

     

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  21.  
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    Christopher Weigel (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    If you seriously believe that the only rights you can expect are those you can "personally enforce", then you're completely missing the concept of justice.

    After all, that's basically the same thing as saying I can rape a girl and kill her so long as I have the strength to do so.

     

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  22.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    But this isn't a debate. If it were, you would respond to my statements, instead of just ignoring them and repeating your original statement.

     

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  23.  
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    Jeremy (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Irregardless?

    Undisseriously? (I made that one up)

    Did you mean: Regardless? or irrespective? Or irrelevant?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irregardless

     

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  24.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Also, if you really want to see a few of your holes, see Hulser's comment here: http://techdirt.com/articles/20100503/0319149274.shtml#c305

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I would hate to see how you handled something in your own family with a wife or perhaps daughter. Full of support by blaming them for anything that happens.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I think she has in a very clear way. Your proposal seems to indicate that there should be no victims because they should be protecting themselves which seems to be based on some notion that just because a person's fight is just and defensive they will always win the fight as long as they have had proper self defense training for one to two years or simply owning a gun.

    Really you seem to be promoting some sort of alternate reality where everyone exists in a fighting game and assault isn't done when the victim least suspects it and the person intitating the assault will clearly announce his/her intentions so both parties can get set for a fight with full health bars then have 3 rounds to work out who wins.

     

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    Overcast (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:47pm


    If I have a neighbor that plays loud music at all hours of the night I'll sue musician whose album was playing because Vanilla Ice should have know his music would be played like that.


    Now - THAT is a good idea and right in line with RIAA thinking.

    Why not? They can shut down and sue third parties - our turn :)

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    In regards to the liability of the company based on a 'notification', I don't think that 'notification' of the situation is enough.

    I mean, should companies go around shutting off services that a customer has paid for just because someone claimed that they might be doing something illegal with them?

    Imagine if I called up my local electric company and said, 'My neighbors have a meth lab in their basement. Please shut off their electric so they can't cook anymore.'. Do you think that the company would shut off their services based on my statement?

    Imagine if I were a rights-holder and I called my local ISP and said, 'Jane and Joe Doe are infringing on my rights with the Internet services that you provide. Please shut off their Internet so that they can't share my intellectual property anymore.'. Do you think that the ISP should shut off their services based on my statement?

     

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  29.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Gamechanger

    Imagine if I called up my local electric company and said, 'My neighbors have a meth lab in their basement. Please shut off their electric so they can't cook anymore.'. Do you think that the company would shut off their services based on my statement?

    Imagine if I were a rights-holder and I called my local ISP and said, 'Jane and Joe Doe are infringing on my rights with the Internet services that you provide. Please shut off their Internet so that they can't share my intellectual property anymore.'. Do you think that the ISP should shut off their services based on my statement?

    However, in neither case is the electric company or the ISP responsible for what is being done with the aid of their services.

     

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  30.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Would you be so kind as to build your logical assertion that anybody else's rights automatically (automagically?) ends up towards violence towards somebody? Believe it or not, violence and rights aren't exactly the same topic. Are we discussing rights, or are we discussing violence?

     

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    Hulser (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    So unless you personally can enforce your right to free speech, you can't gurauntee that you in fact have it at all.

    This is a bit of a stretch from what Lobo Santo actually said. To the extent that anything can be defined at a right, its existance is completely unrelated to the ability to enforce it. No reasonable person would expect that a government or any entity can completely guarantee that all rights will be enforced. Rights are "unalienable" and "self-evident" and do not depend on enforceability in any given situation.

    Did the students at Kent State have the right to free speech? They were supposed to....then they got shot by the Nat'l Guard, so it turns out they never had it at all in practice.

    "In practice"? OK, if you want to throw in extra qualifiers, then you can change the original statement. But I think we're devolving into "If a tree falls in a forest..." trivial semantics territory here.

    Don't confuse "rights" with right and wrong. No, it isn't okay. But again, if you can't enforce that right yourself and are relying on a shakey group of others to do it for you, do you actually have that right at all?

    Yes.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "And using your example, you've proven he's correct in that sense. If you get knocked off of your soap box, your right to free speech is meaningless prior to an outside enforcer. Did the students at Kent State have the right to free speech? They were supposed to....then they got shot by the Nat'l Guard, so it turns out they never had it at all in practice. If they'd had enough manpower and/or weapons to fight back, then they would have retained their rights, but they didn't, so they didn't."

    So, what you're saying is that the non-violent activists should pick up weapons and fight back? That would kind of negate the purpose of the entire movement of the 60's and 70's. I highly suggest you check your historical accuracy before making such naive and completely off-base comments.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Ah, I see the disconnect. I think of a right, probably incorrectly, as something that is reasonably gauranteed to me because I absolutely OUGHT to have it and can count on it. I think you're talking about it more as just the second part, something we ought to have as a matter of right and wrong.

    Which I guess to me makes the whole question of rights somewhat pointless. I don't care what I ought to have, or what's been promised to me, I only care what the reality is. We can talk about unwarranted searches all we want, but then we get the possiblity of wiretaps, and little to no reprecussions for those that took part. A right is just an ethereal thing we made up. It doesn't actually physically exist. They're important, yes, but only if they can be reasonably relied upon to exist as a social/political agreement.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "If the police choose to violate your rights, and the courts don't slap them down, then did you ever truly have the right to begin with?"

    Again, are you serious? We have inalienable rights as human beings (i.e. the fucking Declaration of Independence). If other parties infringe on them, that doesn't mean they never existed. Holy shit I can't believe you actually believe your own bullshit.

     

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    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    Quit telling the electric company about my meth lab. Two more complaints and they said they're shutting off my electricity.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    No, you're thinking of justice. Justice is what can be reasonably guaranteed. Rights are there whether they can be enforced or not.

    The distinction must be made because having people misunderstand is one large step closer to the "your rights are what I say your rights are" mind set (you know, like how the RIAA/MPAA already claim).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    A right is just an ethereal thing we made up. It doesn't actually physically exist.

    Agreed. It's a statement of what ought to be which is, by definition, very ethereal and subjective.


    They're important, yes, but only if they can be reasonably relied upon to exist as a social/political agreement.

    I think rights are important not in spite of their enforceability, but because the first step in defining which rights should be enforced and how they're enforced is based on what you consider a right. Hence the importance of defining a Bill of Rights.

    The abstract idea of a right doesn't have much use by itself, but in the context of how it will be enforced, it does. But that doesn't mean that a right doesn't exist without enforcement.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Would you be so kind as to respond to the comments that I've already made?

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "Again, are you serious?"

    Yes, I'm serious. And I'm no expert, hence the conversation. I'm asking questions, not asserting that my interpretation is absolutely correct....

    "We have inalienable rights as human beings (i.e. the fucking Declaration of Independence)."

    Hm, your crassness aside, I think there's a very important subtelty in the DoI that kind of lends credence to what I said when I disagreed with Lobo. "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." The only reason the rights exist is because of the collective agreement that they did. They founding fathers then went on to describe why they were going to enforce those rights. Without the collective agreement to enforce them, I'm not sure those rights exist as a matter of principle. Certainly the DoI does not apply to all humans, even if the founding fathers suggested that the rights did (although they were awfully selective when it came to defining "all men", weren't they?)

    "If other parties infringe on them, that doesn't mean they never existed."

    I agree. I never said otherwise. It isn't the act of infringement that negates the right, it's the inability or unwillingness to defend/enforce the right that *might*.

    On a separate note, why don't you do me a favor and take out the stick of balsa wood that is currently grinding against your sphincter and calm down? I'm a lot of things, and not all of them good, but overly-assertive, conversationally domineering, and bullshitter aren't among them....

     

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    2gravey, May 3rd, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    The state is liable

    She shouldn't forget to sue the state for providing roads the guy used to follow her.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "The only reason the rights exist is because of the collective agreement that they did...Without the collective agreement to enforce them, I'm not sure those rights exist as a matter of principle."



    Obviously I'm not making my point clear enough for you.



    Let's say there's a deserted island, with no government or any type of law and order. Let's now say a shipwreck strands four men and one woman, while all the other shipmates were not as fortunate.

    Now let's say four of the men decide they want to take advantage of the woman in the worst way possible.

    Are you claiming that because the majority of the men (all of them) don't agree/enforce the right NOT to rape the woman, she does not have the inalienable right NOT to be raped? In this particular scenario, please defend your statement. Since what I described is not that unrealistic (i.e. Somalia), this is very a practical example.

    Every living thing is born with inherent rights, they are not chosen at a convention by a select few, they are granted at birth. Whether your socioeconomic worldview grants these liberties is irrelevant.

    Moreover, just given our rhetoric on the topic ("if one infringes on a right, does it exist?") - the mere fact that we are claiming a right has been infringed, denotes that it in fact exists.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "please defend your statement."

    Okay, but again, the statement is NOT that if someone infringes on your right you don't have that right. The statement is that if you are unable to unwilling to have your right enforced, then you don't have that right. It has nothing to do with right or wrong or morals. In my view, the men in your scenario are terrible people that deserve death. But that doesn't grant the woman any rights. Now, for the definition of the word "right":

    "an abstract idea of that which is due to a person or governmental body by law or tradition or nature" www.princeton.edu

    So, in your scenario, there is no law or tradition to be concerned with, and nature certainly does not grant any creature the right to not be raped, as it happens in nature ALL THE TIME. So, while what happened to the woman was deplorable and morally unjust, by definition she did not have any rights violated.

    "("if one infringes on a right, does it exist?")"

    Again, NOT WHAT I SAID. I'm trying to drive the point home that I think the argument can be made for rights being meaningless without the willingness and ability to enforce them. This really isn't that hard, is it? It's why the 2nd amendment is so important, or at least it was supposed to be. We have to be able to have the weapons to fight our own government as the founding fathers suggested we should if they infringe on our rights. THAT'S why they put that amendment IN there to begin with!

     

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    out_of_the_blue, May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    On-topic support for Rose M. Welch and lux.

    I'm sure that those you're arguing with -- futilely -- have a fantasy of themslves as rugged, two-fisted, hard-drinking individualists when they're keyboard commandos at best. You're trying to discuss real rights when in their fantasy world (as in role playing games), at worst they re-spawn after a pause despite just being blown to bits.

    A major benefit of society is that it should exact revenge for those who can't protect themselves, often because dead. Anyone who's out to get anyone need only find opportunity to sneak up behind. Doesn't matter how big and tough you think you are, a little piece of wood will DROP you.

    Opportunity is EXACTLY the ability that this company is selling. IF they were in fact notified at all in this case, I consider them DEEPLY liable because their device precisely enables what's otherwise difficult: location.

    Have a quote I think apropos, or useful even if not. So far as I know it's original with Rex Stout (author of Nero Wolfe). He's advising people who are incidentally involved in a crime scene: "You cannot answer a policeman by yourself. It takes a whole nation to answer a policeman."

    You who think your rights only exist if you can assert them by yourself are helping ensure that society falls apart into a police state.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "In my view, the men in your scenario are terrible people that deserve death. But that doesn't grant the woman any rights."

    Thanks, you've answered my question. Your view of morality/rights does not lend itself to be inherent. You'd rather have other people determine for you what your rights are, instead of having the ability to reason for yourself regarding what should and shouldn't be granted. Understood!

    Wow. I would never want to be on a stranded island with you, but at least I could murder you without violating any of your rights, correct? Just wow.

     

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    A Passerby, May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    Ethics is FUN!

    First time poster!

    I really like discussing ethics, and this is the first time I've seen a discussion pertinent to the question of objective and subjective morality pop up on this forum. In my view, morality and, by extension, rights are objective property of real events and objects. By this I mean murder, for example, actually has a real property of "wrongness" supervening on it. This is an actual, objective property. Rights are also real, objective properties that supervene on objects, specifically moral agents. So, to take a previous example, a woman has the right not to be raped, regardless of whether or not I, or anyone or anything else, recognize this fact.

    In the island example, the woman has a right not to be raped simply because the right to decide who may touch her belongs to her (I am a moral cognitivist, which is basically a fancy way of saying that I think we can know various moral state of affairs are actually the case in reality) alone. I think a somewhat weak example showing this is the case is that if a bunch of average people heard of this woman's story, being raped just because a bunch of men decided she didn't have the right not to be raped, along with the face she was also raped, they would be indignant that some fundamental aspect of reality (that is, they did what ought not to be done) was violated by these individuals. They might not be able to articulate precisely why it's wrong; they simply know it's wrong, among other things. I find this sort of reaction difficult to explain if rights and morality are simply functionally existent. Yes, I find evolutionary explanations of human reactions fairly lackluster in this scenario, too.

    Since I only have a short time, I could only give a fairly weak thought experiment where moral or ethical states of affairs can be known to moral agents, but hopefully it'll spur some discussion on the idea that morality and ethics are not simply subjective (though some certainly are; and much fun is had discussing where a certain moral judgment falls on the subjective/objective spectrum).

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I'm trying to drive the point home that I think the argument can be made for rights being meaningless without the willingness and ability to enforce them."

    I'd like to see you tell the thousands and thousands of children who are shipped into the sex trafficking business each week that their rights are meaningless because they don't have the ability to enforce them. Don't worry, you won't look like the most uncompassionate person alive.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Ethics is FUN!

    I for one take the Kantian approach (with a splash of Spinoza). We can absolutely know that moral imperatives exist (i.e. genocide is ALWAYS wrong), however when getting into existential terms, nothing really does matter, only to the extent we place value on things. That being said, humans inherently place value in certain rights, as they should.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    And I take the approach of Thomas Aquinas, who asserted that positive law not grounded in natural law does not provide a right, only the illusion of a right...

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    St. Thomas Aquinas was a theologian, and therefore believed God was responsible for natural law. His four cardinal virtues, rooted in natural law were: prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude.

    Call me crazy, but surely a man of God can see that women do in fact have the right NOT to be raped when they are in company of differing opinions.

     

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    A Passerby, May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    And I don't think natural law even exists...

    But I do hold to a more deontological framework. With that in mind, though, I tend to disagree with Kant about ethics more than I agree with him.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    So, in your scenario, there is no law or tradition to be concerned with, and nature certainly does not grant any creature the right to not be raped

    I'm sure that by "nature", they don't mean some personified Mother Nature that consciously bestows a right in the same way that a government does. Rather, it simply means that, as a natural result of existing, a human has certain rights. Obviously we have a different opinion on this, but I don't think the definition matches yours.


    as it happens in nature ALL THE TIME.

    How many times a right is violated has no bearing on its validity. It's commonly accepted that free speech is a right, in America and elsewhere, but that right is trampled on all of the time. This doesn't mean it's not a right. As for the "in nature" part, I think that the difinition is not referring to "in the animal kingdom".

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    Interesting. My view of Kant's ethics is a long-winded, Germanic interpretation of the Golden Rule! However, in my heart of hearts I believe in Spinoza's Ethics: nothing is intrinsically good or bad, just the label we place on it. But these labels are very important!!

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    "Call me crazy, but surely a man of God can see that women do in fact have the right NOT to be raped when they are in company of differing opinions."

    But that isn't what Aquinas was arguing. Rather, he was stating that our combined moral compass is meaningless if not rooted in natural law, which in his view was prescribed by the divine creator. My view that the divine creator does not hold the same laws as his view does nothing to change the supposed truth of that argument...

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "As for the "in nature" part, I think that the difinition is not referring to "in the animal kingdom"."

    Sorry, but that is EXACTLY what they're referring to....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law

     

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    A passerby, May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I only did a some skimming of the article, but I didn't read a part that mentioned the animal kingdom being particularly fundamental to discussing natural law.

    For a more academic (and, I think, helpful) treatment on the topic, I prefer this:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-ethics/

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "I only did a some skimming of the article, but I didn't read a part that mentioned the animal kingdom being particularly fundamental to discussing natural law."

    Er, did you read the very first line? It says nature instead of animal kingdom, since obviously the law of the natural world reaches beyond just animals, but I would have thought the implication to be clear.

    I'm going to take some time now to review your link. In any case, its been a long time since I've had this good a debate on ethics, and it's been very enjoyable. I only wish some of the personal attacks could go away, particularly since Lux appears to be so otherwise thoughtful and educated....

     

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    A Passerby, May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Haha, yeah, I did read the first line, but nature does not typically equate with "the animal kingdom". "Nature" could conceivably include things like planetary behavior (particularly important for the Greeks at one time), general physics, the animal kingdom, up to and including all human behavior. I usually think nature encompasses every aspect of the universe, which is hardly limited to the universe. As far as natural law is concerned, I think most contemporary treatments of natural law try to focus more on universal human behavior and try to reason from there, though there is significant overlap with the things I mentioned above, especially the further you go back into history. Focusing primarily on the animal kingdom might be a bit fun, though. I think Aquinas's view of nature, for instance, encompassed all of creation, not simply the creative order pertaining to animals.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Okay, I read through most of the linked paper (which was exceptionally well done), but I don't see the part that disagrees with me. Section 1.1 stipulates that Aquinas' perspective on natural vs. positive law is dictated by the dominance of God as the origin of all natural law, and that man as a special recipient of that natural law as rational beings who then use it to create positive law.

    My dismissal of God specifically for this role does nothing to change the fundamental aspects of the ethical theory. I'm simply substituting the origin of natural law as being of reality itself as opposed to any creator. The rest of the theory is congruent, that positive law (made by man) not grounded in natural law (of nature) can function, but only as a construct of man, rather than any universal truth...

     

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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    "nothing is intrinsically good or bad, just the label we place on it. But these labels are very important!!"

    Than why are you telling Dark Helmet he's wrong on the island/rape senario? The raping wasn't "bad" according to the men who did it as they apparently placed a "good" label on that. You're applying your Western morals to the senario, whereas someone with a different set of morals might not see anything wrong with taking a woman by force. You've labeled it "bad" and assume that those men must as well, when that might not necessarily be the case. As you just stated "nothing is intrinsically good or bad."

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Personal attacks? My apologies, I'm merely trying (forcefully) to show you that rights do not exist on a whim, and do not have to be physical objects. My right to life does not exist because a majority decided so.

    Also, natural law is a human construct (obviously!), which many have argued STILL falls into positive law. So again, we are at an impasse.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "I think Aquinas's view of nature, for instance, encompassed all of creation, not simply the creative order pertaining to animals."

    That's what I was saying. But, as we are animals, it follows that the nearest form of nature that our natural law would adhere to would be that of the animal kingdom. The hiccup in that theory is, again, Aquinas' insistence that natural law's origin is a divine creator coupled with his view that only man was rational and therefore able to perceive his own place in natural law, thereby allowing him to create positive law.

    I find both those assertions to be flawed, but that is just opinion...

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "Also, natural law is a human construct (obviously!)"

    Huh? Natural law, by definition, is NOT a human construct. The only human construct is man's ability to cognitively perceive natural law and create positive law around it. Unless I'm misunderstanding how you meant that....

    "many have argued STILL falls into positive law. So again, we are at an impasse."

    Correct. This is a fundamental difference in ethical theory/thinking. Both lines are valid but in such opposition as to be completely incongruous with the other. Oh well, that's what makes the world so much fun....

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    Than why are you telling Dark Helmet he's wrong on the island/rape senario?

    This is a very good question, and I often struggle with this piece of Spinoza's philosophy as well. If nothing is good or bad, then who cares? Right? This gets us into Nietzsche's will to power argument. Basically, we can believe that everything means nothing (nihilism), and either 1) say screw it, and go out and loot and murder without regret (negative) or 2) take power into our own hands, and make life the way we want to, since we can do anything we want (positive). Really these are two very extremes, but stem from the same notion explained in nihilism.

    I am not saying that since everything is neither good or bad, we shouldn't care. We absolutely should care. Spinoza was ALL FOR locking up criminals, even though his philosophy basically said none of this matters!!

    I'll say this: if humans were not around, we wouldn't be having this conversation, and nothing (to us!) would matter all all. However, we are here, we are alive, and you better be damned sure that things matter to be, even when (in all reality) they will not matter in a thousand years. It really is all relative.

    Therefore, although it neither right or wrong for the woman to get attacked on the desert island, humanity is born with consciousness, and therefore the inherent notion of personal rights, which regardless of whether they are right or wrong, EXIST!

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ethics is FUN!

    "Therefore, although it neither right or wrong for the woman to get attacked on the desert island, humanity is born with consciousness, and therefore the inherent notion of personal rights, which regardless of whether they are right or wrong, EXIST!"

    Please reread what you just wrote! That's what I've been saying. Rights are a human construct. They DO exist, because by believing they exist they do. Without this cognitive process, those rights never get THOUGHT OF, and therefore do not exist. A bee has no concept of rights because they are incapable of cognitively conceptualizing them, therefore they do not exist for bees.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:12pm

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but your original argument wasn't that rights were human contructs (which I absolutely agree with), but rather it's our ability (or disability) to _enforce_ them that makes them valid:

    "The statement is that if you are unable to unwilling to have your right enforced, then you don't have that right." Now, I partially agree with this, but not in the way we both want (at least I think). Woman in India surely don't "have" the same rights as woman in America, (my gf is currently teaching English to kids in Dharamsala, India, so I've heard a lot about this.), however, to me, that doesn't mean they don't in general have the same rights as other woman - they are just being infringed upon. This is NOT to say they don't exist. They may not be present or respected, but these woman do have the same rights as woman in the US or in any part of the world.

     

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    aleeya (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    So, who is going to pay for the defense lessons, the body guards you suggest? OR are you assuming just everyone can afford to pay for these and/or has time to learn just to meet what you think they should do?

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:22pm

    Re:

    Allow me to clarify:

    A right, as a human construct, only exists if the community is both able and willing to enforce it and the individual adheres to either that community or his own perceived morality. Otherwise no right exists. Women in India in general, in my view, do NOT have the same rights as women in America, or under Sharia rule, etc.

    A person's rights are subject to the laws they allow themselves to be governed by. That is what made Martin Luther King so impressive. He asserted his rights in the face of immense opposition. He retained his right to assembly by enduring the punishment of a community that rejected that right and assembled anyway. Therefore, he retained his right. He enforced his own right with a minority collective. It isn't enough to get raped and then reasonably cry out that your rights have been violated. You then have to DO something to reassert your right....

     

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    Joe Perry (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I think many countries would disagree with you. There are many places where free speech is not a right, it's isn't simply a right everywhere because some people raised in America think it should be. The American constitution may say that all men are born equal but I hate to break it to you, other countries don't care about our constitution. It might conflict with your morals that not everyone can speak freely but if someone in China is prosecuted for speaking out against the government they didn't have their rights violate because in China, that's not one of their rights.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    I understand completely, but respectfully disagree - and the disconnect is simply in what we each define as a "right". In our women-in-India example, I feel as though they do have the same rights that should be afforded to all humans (i.e. freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to choose one's government, basically all the goodies in the 1st Amendment sprinkled with some good ol' fashion common sense), but they simply don't have the liberty to exercise those rights. Let me explain using your quote:

    A person's rights are subject to the laws they allow themselves to be governed by.

    North Koreans are starved for contact to the outside world. Although the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is labeled as a democracy, we all know it's everything but - and more like it's run by a totalitarian dictator. These people have no way of overthrowing that government, meaning there is a very large difference between "allowing" yourself to be controlled by, or simply being forcefully oppressed into subjugation. Therefore, it stands to reason that rights are always yours, but often are not able to be willfully exercised, however they will always be there. It's more a fact of human dignity than anything else.

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:04pm

    Huh? Natural law, by definition, is NOT a human construct.

    --You had it in the second paragraph. What I meant was this: unless the concept was magically plucked from the sky, it was definitely created my man. Again, it's a non-issue and misunderstanding.


    Correct. This is a fundamental difference in ethical theory/thinking. Both lines are valid but in such opposition as to be completely incongruous with the other.


    --Agreed!

    Oh well, that's what makes the world so much fun....

    --Definitely agree!

     

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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    I understand where you are going with this, trust me. However, being in America (literally known as the freest place on Earth), and having access to the liberties which allow me to think in the way that I do, affords me the knowledge to know that ALL PEOPLE should enjoy the same liberties as I do.

    Everyone should possess the liberty to exercise their inherent human rights (definition clarification for Dark Helmet!). One should always be able to speak their mind and not be afraid of violent repercussions. One should always have the liberty to choose their religion, and not have it forced upon them. One should always have the right to change/alter/dismantle a government if they don't approve of, or at least have their voice hear without being forcefully silenced. All of these things we take for granted ARE actually fantastic things that others should enjoy

    NOW, that's not to say all countries need to adopt a democratic, capitalistic society where we can all go to McDonald's and shop at Wal-Mart on Sundays. I'm not saying that at all - all I'm saying is we are all born with certain rights, rights our forefathers put down (and then willfully denied to their slaves). Although these guys were severely hypocritical, they were on to something.

     

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    Joe Perry (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    If there is no society to state rape is wrong and enforce the idea, then there is no right. I can't go as far as to find societies where rape is outright legal (although I bet there are some), but in many middle eastern countries it is so hard for a woman to prove rape (in Pakistan they need four reliable male witnesses, they have to be male) that it is basically legal.
    A better example I could come up with is that in some countries women are eligible to have sex very early in life, as early as when they have puberty. If a man had sex with a 14 year old in America it goes against some basic human rights not to be taken advantage of, because the 14 year old girl couldn't make an informed decision. In those countries, however, her rights would not be considered violated. Some people might hear about it and think it's morally wrong, but it's not in any way going against her rights.
    So yes, rights are entirely decided by a society, based on what the majority of people agree is wrong and how they enforce infringements. Your personal morals do not dictate the rights of you or those around you. Some people think drinking is morally wrong, other people still have the right to drink. There is no birthright that decides what is legally right and wrong universally that applies to everyone just because some government says that there is and you have no moral right not to be raped because people are going to have different morals than you. Maybe it's sick, but it's true.

     

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    Joe Perry (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    You only have those rights because of where you were born and you only think others should have those rights because you were raised where you were. While I also live in the United States and agree that the rights we are allowed are awesome and everyone should have them, not all people agree. And despite my beliefs, I try to respect their opinions and thus do not try to force my own liberties on them if they don't think they want or need them.

    Your comment about how you should have the right to change your government is nice but actually lends itself to the point that you don't have the right unless you have the means to defend it. Unless you're in a democratic country (or at the very least, a republic) it takes a massive amount of power to change the government. A vast majority of people have to be willing to speak up and make that a right for themselves. That usually turns out to be too difficult for it to actually occur, so those people continue to lack that right.

    On a less serious note I don't know if we are known as the freest place on the planet. There's been a lot of deception and things happening without us knowing in the last couple of presidencies, and a lot of other countries have been looking down on us for it. I do personally still think we are the freest place, however, or at the very least, it's leagues better than most places. At least in our free elections we have more than one person running.

     

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  74.  
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    lux (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    You only have those rights because of where you were born and you only think others should have those rights because you were raised where you were.

    I will let the women of these countries speak for themselves. Other interviews also illuminate the fact that they very much would enjoy additional freedoms and liberties of their own in their own nation: http://www.globalpolitician.com/22440-iran

    Moreover, just the fact we are freely having this conversation is proof the system partly works. Of course nothing is perfect and we'll be deceived, I'd hope everyone knows that coming into the game.

    In those countries, however, her rights would not be considered violated. Some people might hear about it and think it's morally wrong, but it's not in any way going against her rights.

    Again, ask the little girl if what's being done to her is against her rights. Her human dignity might have another opinion as yours.

    Your personal morals do not dictate the rights of you or those around you. Some people think drinking is morally wrong, other people still have the right to drink.

    You're missing the point entirely. The rights we're discussing are no where in or near the realm of having the right to drink beer... We're talking about the right to not get shot for having this conversation, or the right to choose which God you worship (none for me thanks!), but you do realize WARS are being waged over which imaginary man in the sky has the REAL rules to live by. Not to mention the outright censorship of the internet that occurs on behalf of the Chinese government. Don't worry, once they catch wind we're having an honest conversation, no one will be reading this article in Beijing.

    It just blows my mind how some people with such enormous freedoms and liberties can (and with a completely apathetic tone) make it seem as though life as sex slave in Thailand really isn't as bad as it's made to be. I mean, hey, their rights aren't being violated or anything. I guess that's just the way it is - when's the mall close?

     

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  75.  
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    out_of_the_blue, May 3rd, 2010 @ 7:14pm

    Rights exist in a state of nature.

    But yes, brutes on two legs routinely violate them. We the people hire guards against them -- and then hope that the guards can be kept from being the worst danger.

    Wow. Three more hours of, er, discussion.

    And now back on topic: phone apps (some legitimate, some malware) give this ability to track by GPS too. There are dangers inherent in GPS.

     

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  76.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    Like it or not, their meaning was clear. Being a grammar nazi on the internet is is like forcing 6-year old's to follow a board game's rules. They'll just despise you for being a dick.

     

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  77.  
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    Any Mouse, May 3rd, 2010 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    At one point she was attacked while she was 7 months pregnant. So.. say again?

    And I'm disabled. I have severe mobility issues. You saying I don't have any personal rights because I can't enforce them? You sure about that?

     

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    herodotus (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 4:33am

    OK, a question for all of the people who believe in these inalienable rights that belong to all humans regardless of where they live or what civilization they are a part of:

    From what do these rights arise?

    All I have seen so far is an attempt to shame the people who say that these rights have no real a priori existence.

     

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  79.  
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    lux (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    All I have seen so far is an attempt to shame the people who say that these rights have no real a priori existence.

    Whipping out buzzwords like a priori knowledge, I'd assume you'd understand that these rights arise through use of reason and intellect, not through experience (or a posteriori). One need not be forcefully silenced to know that they should have the right to speak their mind without fear of violent repercussions.

     

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  80.  
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    nasch (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    I agree, the company wouldn't even have a way of knowing whether it was a legitimate notification of criminal activity, or an angry estranged spouse getting back at her ex. The correct response IMO would be "we'll gladly shut off this service when presented with a court order to do so."

     

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  81.  
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    nasch (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 9:38am

    Re: On-topic support for Rose M. Welch and lux.

    IF they were in fact notified at all in this case, I consider them DEEPLY liable because their device precisely enables what's otherwise difficult: location.

    What you're saying is if I'm having an argument with my neighbor over whose side of the line that tree is on and I found out he has one of these, I can call up the company and tell them he's using it to stalk his girlfriend. Or some other illegal activity. And they should shut it off.

    In this particular case, he was actually using it to stalk his wife, but how could the company possibly know that? They should just take anybody at their word? "Notification" should not mean getting a phone call, but getting a court order.

     

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  82.  
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    nasch (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 9:46am

    Comment formatting

    Interesting discussion, but TD's comment formatting (with deep replies to replies) really needs help. Much of this is very difficult to read.

     

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  83.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    My $.02 on rights

    I've enjoyed this ethics discussion and want to wade in to it a bit. My take is that the only rights you have are those that government you are under has given you. In America in 1800 slaves didn't have rights except as property. Now we look at that and say "well they should have the same rights free men had." But that's all we can do is look at it and say "they should have those rights." When in reality they didn't.

    What ought to be a right and what actually is a right are totally different. Women in most Muslim countries SHOULD have the same rights as men, but they don't. Blacks in the US in the 50's should have had the same rights as whites, but they didn't. However they were able to affect social change that led to the granting of rights by the government. Only then did they have their rights.

    Feel free to explain how wrong I am...

     

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  84.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Comment formatting

    You can change the formatting yourself. It's in your account section, under preferences. :)

     

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  85.  
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    nasch (profile), May 5th, 2010 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Comment formatting

    How do I change it so deeply nested comments don't end up as one word per line, but maintain threaded style? Fixed vs. variable width doesn't seem to do it, and it's not worth giving up threading.

     

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  86.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 5th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Comment formatting

    Yeah, that is a problem. Suggest a solution. :)

     

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  87.  
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    nasch (profile), May 5th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Comment formatting

    Actually I was mistaken, switching to variable width does help. It must not have refreshed to the new setting when I tried it before.

     

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  88.  
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    Peter, May 7th, 2010 @ 11:28am

    Fascinating!

    (and I'm not being sarcastic) - A story about a GPS device and a company's extent of responsibility for an abuse of the service they provide has evolved into a philosophical discussion regarding the nature and meaning of rights. While it could be regarded as just a question of semantics, the definition of "rights" leads into a fascinating debate about ethics, power, morality, and politics, even religion.
    I have my own view about the original story, but it's good to see a (mostly) reasonable discussion without the illiterate and tiresome "Your [SIC] a moron! No, YOU are!" Youtube style insults.
    There was a series of lectures on PBS a while ago about ethics, where the presenter would pose a question with a seemingly obvious answer, which most of the audience would agree with, but then would describe a situation where suddenly this answer was thrown into doubt. Sometimes as a reductio ad absurdum, sometimes just by altering the circumstances or context. For example -- I'm not saying this was one he used and this is overly simple -- he might ask "Would you say it is wrong to kidnap someone who is not a criminal, drug him and tie him up, completely against his will? Yes? What if he was suffering from a mental disorder and suicidal or threatening to kill someone. Does he then still have a right to be left alone?" I wish I could remember the name of the series, as it is fascinating viewing.

    Anyway, to add my own view on the situation here, if I were the GPS tracking company representative, and pretty sure about why the guy wanted to track the vehicle, my personal ethics would tell me not to comply. To the person who said they would require a court order, that would imply she knew she was being tracked, and it doesn't seem that was the case otherwise she could have contacted the company. If she DID know, and could bring the vehicle in to prove herself as a driver, I would also be unwilling to track it without her approval.
    It's not clear that they did know, and without proof, I would not find them guilty of anything. It would be like finding a knife vendor culpable for a murder. Then again, if I were that vendor and someone asked me "what's the best knife I can use to stab my girlfriend with?" I would do more than just refuse to make the sale if I thought he was serious.

    p.s. There's an interesting article on natural vs legal rights at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_and_legal_rights

     

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  89.  
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    nasch (profile), May 7th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Fascinating!

    According to the news report, the lawsuit claims the company was notified, but it doesn't say by whom. If she brought in the vehicle, demonstrated her sole ownership (ie it doesn't belong to both of them jointly), and asked them to shut it off, then I would agree with that.

    I just have a problem with shutting off service when "notified" that someone is doing something illegal with it. I don't think the company should be liable for refusing to comply with informal and ill-documented requests (if that is in fact the sort of request they got). And it's stupid to complain that they continued the service soley to make a profit (as the lawsuit does). Of course that's why they did it, that's why they offer all their services.

     

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  90.  
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    Tina Birkhead, May 17th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    I dont feel that a persons life should be exploited with no chance to deffend a victim of abuse in good health but lied on and date rar drugs as well as the gps unit enternet made to besomething im not weight gain used at times as well as stuff stolen hair cut and from people you would least suspect health issues changed a kidney problem no surgery after being told i needed it no one should be allowed to play God LOVE stoped my life has been a liveing night mare 7 years of abuse what gives a person the right to exploit a persons life the law dosent want to do SH..to help a inocent person even a legal medical gps a person has the write to privacey there suppost to so were the he.. did mine go upset with Mt Vernon ILL Tina Birkhead

     

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  91.  
    identicon
    Tina Birkhead, May 17th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    I dont feel that a persons life should be exploited with no chance to deffend a victim of abuse in good health but lied on and date rape drugs as well as the gps unit enternet made to besomething im not weight gain used at times as well as stuff stolen hair cut and from people you would least suspect health issues changed a kidney problem no surgery after being told i needed it no one should be allowed to play God LOVE stoped my life has been a liveing night mare 7 years of abuse what gives a person the right to exploit a persons life the law dosent want to do SH..to help a inocent person even a legal medical gps a person has the write to privacey there suppost to so were the he.. did mine go upset with Mt Vernon ILL Tina Birkhead

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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