About Me

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Auckland, New Zealand
Colin was born in Belfast (Ireland) and came to Aotearoa/New Zealand in 2002. He was previously guitarist with Irish punk band Music For Deaf (not the later US band of the same name) and participant in UK/Ireland based Allotropes experimental collective. His current interests include experimental music (both composed and improvised), video, song writing and performance, and composition for conventional solo instruments and ensembles. He is a regular participant in the Auckland improv colective Vitamin S, one half of the duo Toy Triptech (with Rohan Evans), and has performed occasionally on alto sax with Jeff Henderson’s variable ensemble Superstars of Westlynn. Colin holds a Diploma in Contemporary Music from Unitec (Auckland) and B. Mus.(Hons) majoring in Composition at the University of Auckland. Recent releases include the album Skyway to Carpark (2012) and EP Short Straw, both are available to download from bandcamp and as limited release physical CDs. Colin is a also a Director of Angel Food, New Zealand’s vegan food innovators,

Monday, 18 April 2011

Is access to the Internet a “Human Right”?

This question came up during a class on Music Technology and the Internet. From my perspective the question is inherently flawed because is assumes that “Human Rights” are real. A “Human right” is a mere legal construct which strips the obligation for certain ethical behaviour from individuals and vests it in a state or or international institution such as the UN.

What’s wrong with that? Well, I think it shifts the responsibility for ethical action from the individual onto the institution. Actions start with people. There is a lot or research on how the tendency for groups to act in atrocious ways is linked to groupthink, or shifting accountability for those actions to the group rather than the individual, thus reducing feeling of guilt or remorse that normally act as a check on such actions. We don’t have to look very far back in history, or indeed news reports to see this effect in full flow.

So, whilst I acknowledge that Human Rights laws, etc. have sometimes been put in place by well-meaning people, the unintended effect can be to offset the sense of obligation felt by most of us to treat others respectfully and in a way that reduces harm.

I’m strongly in favour of Human Obligations, especially when it comes to electing representatives, making choices about with whom we transact and how we treat others generally. One of those obligations is to work towards fair treatment of humans, for example to reduce the effects of poverty and deprivation, and oppose exploitation. this is not a wooly legal concept existing at the behest of the state, it’s a personal duty that is inherent to being human irrespective of whether it is acknowledged by a legal framework.

Does access to the internet further this end? Maybe.....but if your kids are cold and hungry it’s not on your priority list.

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