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Needs of Society vs. Individual Rights

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Emma Wotherspoon

on 30 March 2014

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Transcript of Needs of Society vs. Individual Rights

Freedom of Religion
In democratic countries, it is expected that people are allowed to practice their religions without interference from the government. The government can, however, interfere when religion results in people getting harmed, when children aren't being educated or when other laws are being broken. Examples include child molestation in religious groups, only teaching creationism in religious schools and denying evolution, and not paying taxes because of religious beliefs.
Property Rights
Taxation Laws
Generally, people pay their taxes without argument. However, there are some who believe that paying income taxes should not be required. Some even believe that taxation should be illegal. The purpose of tax laws is to ensure that everyone pays their fair share towards public services, such as health care, education, and environmental protection. If everyone refused to pay taxes, public services would not be provided.
Should the needs of society be more important than individual rights, or should individual rights be protected
at all costs?
Individual rights should be protected as much as possible but must be balanced against the rights of other individuals in society. To create this balance, the rights of individuals need to be limited mainly to what is required to protect the rights of other people, as individuals, and collectively as society. For example, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been interpreted in a way that attempts to create this balance.
In democratic countries, freedom of speech is considered an important right. It is assumed that anyone should be able to say whatever they want without violating the law. However, there are some exceptions, especially in countries that have strong laws against hate speech, such as Canada and Germany. For example, Earnst Zundel, a Holocaust denier and an anti-semite, devoted his life to spreading hate speech. He wrote books and articles praising Hitler and denying the Holocaust, thinking he could get away with it. However, the Canadian government sent him back to Germany to face a criminal trial and he was found guilty.
Freedom of Speech
Generally, it is assumed that one can do whatever they want with their own property without government interference. The reality is that government has the power to limit how property is used. Sometimes government interference on property is necessary to protect the environment and to prevent people and other properties from being harmed. For instance, the environmental management act makes it illegal to pollute the environment by dumping waste that could contaminate the environment. Also, the BC Building Code sets rules for how the buildings are constructed in order to protect the environment and to ensure the the safety of neighboring buildings.
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