Individual Rights versus Cultural Rights

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The United States is considered the melting pot of the western world. It boasts many different cultures. People from every part of the world have chosen to live amongst others. They can either assimilate within the cultures; Italian Americans, or maintain their own cultures; Greeks. With such diverse cultures being represented, it is hard to fathom individuals being denied basic human rights. In other areas of the world, humans are being tortured, raped, and killed. These human rights violations are being protected under the muse of tradition, or culture. Cultural rights are being elevated by the notion that only people within that particular society can moderate their own culture. This is called cultural relativism. Although, cultural relativism states cultures cannot be judged by outside societies, individual human rights should outweigh cultural ones. Cultural relativists promote the rights of cultures to dictate what is morally accepted within one’s own society. Cultural relativism is defined as the view that an action is morally right if one’s culture approves of it (Vaughn). This ideology is formed to prevent ethnocentrism, or the belief that one’s culture is superior to another. Though in theory this sounds plausible, it does little to promote an understanding of different cultures. Since the society makes up the laws that dictates and protects its own people, universal laws of protection may not be applied. Cultural rights are important in that they protect individual cultures against the majority states and communities. (Donnelly 219). If it were not for cultural rights, the smaller cultures would cease existing along with their traditions and beliefs. Tradition, therefore, may be a front for continued prejudices within... ... middle of paper ... ...ant, basic human rights are inalienable and universal. These rights cannot be disregarded for traditions or customs. Works Cited Abusharaf, Rogaia Mustafa, ed. Female Circumcision. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. Ball, Olivia and Paul Gready. The No-Nonsense Guide to Human Rights. Oxford: New Internationalist Publications Ltd, 2006. Donnelly, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory & Practice. 2nd. Ithica: Cornell University Press, 2003. Jones, Adam, ed. Gendercide and Genocide. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2004. Phillip. "Human Rights." 2008. Oxford Reference Online. 4 September 2011 . The Desert Flower. Dir. Sherry Horman. 2009. The Stoning of Soraya. Dir. Cyrus Nowrasteh. Perf. Mozhan Marno. 2008. Vaughn, Lewis. Doing Ethics. 2nd. Castle House: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd., 2008.

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