Welcome to Right Now’s new website!
Why the move from print to online? Because we believe that as a concept human rights is fluid, vibrant and exciting – not bound to institutions or codified in declarations and charters – human rights is a language and a tool used by marginalised people of all backgrounds to fight against injustice. But to remain useful it has to remain relevant – we can’t take it for granted or assume that its meaning is set in stone. This is our goal, to avoid the easy path of stagnation and institutionalisation by facilitating a critical conversation about human rights amongst people with varied experiences – whether as human rights defenders, commentators, or people whose rights are at risk. The internet allows us to reach this wider audience.
We believe that as a concept human rights is fluid, vibrant and exciting – not bound to institutions or codified in declarations and charters – human rights is a language and a tool used by marginalised people of all backgrounds to fight against injustice.
Our launch content reflects this diversity. In our feature article Elizabeth O’Shea talks about the recent abortion trial in Queensland and how we must be wary of rights-based discourse being misused and misconstrued. In our interview with award-winning documentary maker Colm McNaughton, he expresses similar reservations about human rights in the context of imperial oppression on the US-Mexico border.
On the other hand, recent Oscar winner Shaun Tan provides us with a moving and ultimately hopeful response to human rights through his artwork. Tyler Payne’s short story is based on the true account of a transgender person who must overcome the prejudices of family, colleagues and strangers. Gideon Cordover’s essay calling for the legalisation of euthanasia is based on his own father’s passing. These works serve as timely reminders of the human aspect of human rights.
The power of the state is explored in Vince Chadwick’s article on police violence in the wake of the Tyler Cassidy inquest, while Overland editor Jeff Sparrow discusses the complexities surrounding the Julian Assange case. And Susan Ryan argues that the power of the state can be utilised in favour of human rights, by enacting a Bill of Rights.
Ultimately, human rights can be something of a balancing act. There is no one way to ‘do’ human rights. In an article about the burqa, Jacqui Pavey explores the developing tension between women’s rights and religious freedom. While clear cut answers are rare, the necessity of decision making cannot be avoided. As E. Marich writes in her article about alcoholism in the Northern Territory, we are all faced with the metaphorical (and sadly, too often literal) figure of the helpless person sprawled across our path. The question she poses is: Do I stop?
We are all faced with the metaphorical (and sadly, too often literal) figure of the helpless person sprawled across our path. The question she poses is: Do I stop?
I hope that the launch of the new online version of Right Now will encourage you to consider the full range of voices which make up the human rights conversation today.