COVID: when rights collide

It is often said that in recent years we have witnessed a legalization of democratic societies.

That it is no longer the politicians elected by the people who govern, but the judges, the courts. The situation will not change tomorrow.


The more rights there are in a society (animal rights, nature rights, soon the rights of trees and, why not, the rights of robots or virtual avatars), the more these rights are likely to collide. And the more judges, legal experts and constitutional experts are needed to settle the conflicts and disputes caused – precisely – by this almost exponential proliferation of rights. Look at Bill 21, Bill 96 and the fight against the pandemic.

These three dossiers raise fundamental and extremely complex questions about the scope – and limits – of the various rights. How far can a minority go to protect its rights?

Doesn’t the majority have a duty to protect the rights of minorities?

From when can freedom of religion be considered a threat to the fundamental rights of the majority? To the freedom of conscience of children? To women’s rights? Can a society restrict individual rights to protect itself? If so, in which cases? For how long ?

At what stage can it be judged that my freedom endangers the freedom of others? Can an adult individual (and not vaccinated) be forced to take medication or inject a substance into their veins against their will?


That’s why sensitivities are so heightened these days, so raw.

We are witnessing a head-on collision between individual rights and collective rights. Like two cars crashing into it at top speed.

On the one hand, the antivax who take up the slogan of the pro-choice activists: “My body belongs to me, I do what I want with it. »

On the other, pro-vaccines who argue that the freedom of antivax to do what they want with their bodies directly threatens their equally basic right to live healthy and safe.

These are not only two incompatible visions, but each group tries to impose its vision on the other. No wonder it “chires”! And given that the situation is urgent, we do not have time to settle each individual case before the courts. So it’s the government that decides. Based – he says – on public health considerations, not legal ones. In short, we put science – and politics – before the law.

However, we have only had the word “right” in our mouths for decades!

I have the right, I have the right!

And suddenly, the law (which has been made the supreme arbiter of life in society) would no longer have … the right of citation? Should judges and magistrates docilely hand over their crown and power to politicians and scientists?

No wonder it squeaks…

It’s not easy to ask people to put their individual rights on the backburner when you’ve been setting them up as a true religion for eighty years!

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