Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Peter Espeut | Taxi-man rights are human rights

Published:Friday | February 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM

This week, the Trump administration reversed the decision of the Obama White House allowing so-called transgender students in public schools to choose the toilet in which they do their business according to how they self-identify. Transgender is the 'T' in the LGBTQI acronym, and so the US 'rights' advocates are up in arms.

'Rights' are easy to come by in libertarian circles; as long as you feel like doing something - even if it offends others - you have a 'right' to do it. And everyone else must just accept it.

If a boy wakes up one morning and decides he feels like a girl, he automatically acquires the 'rights' of a transgender person, and can claim the freedom to use the girls' toilet if he wishes. In my youth, we had other words to describe this syndrome.

To prove (or disprove) the point, I believe that Jamaican taxi drivers should claim taxi-man rights! They want to tint their front, back and side windows 'dark-dark', and play all sorts of music in their vehicles, and the conservative and backward Government is preventing them from exercising their human right to privacy, and their right to equality before the law. I think they should take their case for civil rights to Jamaicans for Justice and the public defender.




Taxi and minibus drivers provide an essential service, and some passengers like lewdness and slackness. If they are prevented from playing lewd and slack dancehall music in their vehicles, the impressionable young people won't patronise them, and will take the 'robots' that play their kind of music. This is impeding their right to conduct their business to make maximum profit. And if they don't have the midnight tint - especially on their back and side windows, then that will cut down on the wining and lap dancing that certain customers enjoy.

The laws that ban the playing of music on public transportation vehicles should be repealed! Free up the music! And the law requiring transparency on buses and taxis should be repealed! No transparency!

The Jamaican Constitution gives taxi men the right to equality before the law. If people have the right to do whatever they want in the privacy of their bedrooms, why can't they have the right to do whatever they wish in the privacy of their taxis? No policeman should be allowed to peep into their taxis - or even private cars. Human rights, I say!

Do you think I am joking about this? What about the other people who use these or similar arguments? Are they joking?

What about those who claim 'reproductive rights', which usually means the 'right' not to reproduce, i.e., to terminate their pregnancy? They often put it forward as the right to choose, i.e., they are pro-choice. What about the most fundamental human right - the right to life? Do my 46 chromosomes give me more right to life than those in an unborn child? Or those in a totally dependent, aged person?




I think the time has come to expose this so-called rights approach for what it really is: libertarian self-centredness. Just because I feel the urge to do something does not give me the 'right' to do it. There are some urges that I must resist, no matter how strong or 'natural' they feel.

And sometimes the common weal - the common good - trumps individual 'rights'. The State has the right to expropriate private land in the interest of national security. And my right to privacy does not give me the leeway to break the law in private, say, by lotto-scamming others from the privacy of my bedroom.

And how I feel today cannot determine my gender; there must be some objective medical or scientific investigation. Persons with male plumbing will find the female toilet restrictive. And the opportunity for Tom to peep at Jane adjusting her clothing, places Jane at risk of sexual abuse.

When the history of the Obama presidency is written, it will laud the first black man to live in the White House, but it will also record the cultural dislocation caused by libertarianism in high and powerful places.

- Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.