Re: reply to Golden

Ania Lian (ania@LINGUA.CLTR.UQ.OZ.AU)
Tue, 6 Dec 1994 12:05:53 +1000

On Mon, 5 Dec 1994, Mike Lieber wrote:

> In a succinct, well thought-out, beautifully written note, Michelle Golden has
> laid out the guts of the issues Bjorn has raised. [The issue of sati is a
> troublesome one, as I understand that when the British prohibited the practice,
> thousands of Indian women marched in protest. This datum is the kicker in the
> wise ones deciding for the "tribals." We get surprised and hurt when the
> people we're trying to help don't appreciate our efforts. There are lots of
> other examples of this sort of thing in the ethnographic literature, though
> sati is certainly one of the more dramatic.]

One thing is a law of forcing others to die another thing is
selfdestruction. If in spite of being given a choice (and I suspectthat
the background of these women limitted their choices) you still wanna
kill yourself, go ahead..

> Both Fillitz and Golden point out dangers in the relativist position. My off-
> line question to Michelle is one that I'll put to all of you. Is there a way
> of avoiding another sterile polemic between absolutism and relativism by
> somehow shifting the terms of the debate?

> But does this mean that there is no way
> to take a general construct like human rights and make it flexible enough to
> be adaptable to specific situations?

My idea would be a set of general principles, objective in their right to
defend life and to which all humans would have to obbey. I have little
idea about UNO's structure, but there should be a commission or something
like it, which should research conditions of violation of these rights and
enforce change. Imagine the consequences if this happened.....