No Human Being

Actions may be legal, or they may be illegal. Whether they are moral or not is a totally separate question. (When the law is wrong, lawbreaking is the right thing to do.) But while actions may be illegal, people are not. A person’s existence and life and worth aren’t reducible to the papers that they carry or the legal or political status that they have. If you’re talking about people that way, you ought to consider talking about them a different way. Referring to women or men or children or human beings by their legal status alone is dehumanizing and insulting to them; it is also coarsening and brutalizing for the person doing the referring. It encourages the worst in those who do it, and it justifies inhuman reactions toward those that it is done to. No human being is “illegal.”

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4 replies to No Human Being Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Joe

    Wasn’t the title supposed to be the same as your concluding sentence?

  2. Lori

    A line of argument that might be used against this (not that I would, of course, I’m just a devil’s advocate) is that while it may be the case (certainly should be the case) that no human being is essentially illegal, a specific human being’s presence at a specific place and/or a specific time might be illegal. Perhaps only holders of a certain security clearance may enter a certain room, etc. My own acid test for classifying people as in the “no one is illegal” camp or not is whether they believe private entities should also have the authority to invoke legal sanction against individuals who “violate” boundaries they establish. “No one is illegal” implies “no one is a trespasser.” Indeed, one rhetorical tactic that has been adopted by the paleo-“libertarian” faction of American movement conservatism is framing “illegal immigrants” (who they of course refer to as “illegals”) as trespassers. Since the private sector is the only legitimate sector in their sick and twisted worldview, the envision a future in which a land owner whose property happens to be adjacent to the national boundary can stand “their” ground with their own personal shoot on sight policy.

  3. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People's Daily 2014-11-23 – Not One More. Not Even One.:

    […] No one should be threatened with deportation. Not just 400,000 a year (!), not even one more. No human being is illegal. Not […]

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