Utilitarian Theory and Human Rights

Utilitarian Theory and Human Rights

The basic tenant of utilitarian theory is measured in pleasure and pain.  No one person’s pleasure or pain is more important than another person’s pleasure or pain, with regard to his or her station in life. According to Bentham, government to do its’ job correctly must first ensure the greatest amount of happiness to all. Then second, where happiness is sacrificed for some to make others happy, government must seek to make the greatest happiness to the greatest number of individuals. (Postema 2006 p 113)

Three human rights issues below are listed according to their Utilitarian ranking. The first involves a death as a direct action of government, called Fast and Furious. While death of an individual is involved in the second, we do not know the facts, therefore we cannot state who violated whose human rights, however the human rights of one was violated by legislator and media action. The third violates one persons human rights by an over reaching, over bearing government.

The first human rights violated lives, at least one in the U. S. and many in Mexico. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Fire Arms, and Explosives (BATFE) ordering gun stores in Arizona to sell weapons to straw buyers that BATFE agents know were transferred, to the drug cartels in Mexico. One such weapon was traced, to the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. (Baus) “The Associated Press reported recently that a U.S. senator is examining a claim that two guns sold in purchases sanctioned by federal firearms agents were later used in a December shootout that left a Border Patrol agent dead near the Arizona-Mexico border.” If we assign death of an individual or individuals resulting from a governmental action, as the greatest pain, then this ranks as number one.

The second human rights violation is Trayvon Martin, and George Zimmerman. Did Zimmerman violate Martin’s human rights, or did Martin violate Zimmerman’s human rights? We do not know at this time. While, the facts of the case between them are sketchy and few, the human rights violation presented here is the treatment of the mainstream media and members of congress toward George Zimmerman, from the right of due process and of a fair trial.  We do know now that Martin is dead, and that Zimmerman shot him. We do know that Zimmerman’s head was pounded into the concrete. A bounty has been placed on Zimmerman’s head. The police did not arrest Zimmerman, because they did not have the required evidence to do so. MSNBC has edited the 911 tape to make it look like George Zimmerman, who tutors black kids, racially profiled Martin, for the purpose of killing him. Representative Frederica Wilson stood before the microphone and said “Trayvon Martin was hunted down like a rabid animal”, a fact now shown to be wrong. Wilson should have kept her mouth shut about making this a race issue because it was not a race issue. Her actions and the actions of others, along with the media all join together to make a volatile situation where none should exist. The high probability of more deaths make this second on the list.

The third violated the security of a person in his home or business is the case against Calvary Arms in Mesa Arizona. Shawn Nealon, owner of Calvary Arms, finally gave up fighting with the BATFE simply because he did not have the $500,000 additional funds to add to the $250,000 it already cost to take the case to court. There was no guarantee that Calvary Arms would survive the court battle, because the ATF had far more funding to continue their harassment of the owner Shawn Nealon. There is nowhere near enough room in this paper to discuss to case properly. I spent several hours interviewing Shawn Nealon about this case one year ago. On February 27, 2008 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives raided Calvary Arms and the home of the Shawn Nealon. By May 01, 2008, two months later, the BATFE had not told Shawn Nealon why they raided his business and his home. According to the owner at issue was one entry on one form of a sale of a rifle that had a missing date on one line. According to the sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, people have the right to know what they did wrong (sixth amendment)”…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him…” The first part was done months later when he was told about the missing date, while the second part, witnesses against him, was never done. This came in third, because the least amount of people are affected.


Baus, Chad D. National Politics, Guns in the news. (2011) http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/node/7658                 Retrieved 04/06/2012

Nealon, Shawn. Statement of Calvary Arms. (2008) http://waronguns.blogspot.com/2008/05/statement-            of-cavalry-arms.html Retrieved 04/06/2012.

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