Where do "rights" come from? Professor Alan Dershowitz provides an entirely new resolution to this age-old dilemma: rights, he argues, do not come from God, nature, logic, or law alone, but from particular experiences with injustice, and from trial and error. He also touches on the rights of prisoners and the situation in the Middle East. His new book is
Rights from Wrongs. Professor Dershowitz speaks with Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst and
New Yorker staff writer.
This event took place on December 12, 2004.
Renowned lawyer, jurist, and political commentator Alan Dershowitz reflects on the nature of human rights in this 92nd Street Y seminar. Dershowitz knows a thing or two about rights, having worked on precedent-setting cases regarding genocide, hate crimes, censorship, and defamation. Here, however, Dershowitz looks beyond mere law books, and attempts to situate human rights in a context that is more fundamental. Dershowitz argues that rights are a product of humanity’s ability to recognize incredible injustice - as in the case of the Holocaust or American slavery - and learn from its experiences and mistakes. Reflecting on the status of civil liberties in post 9/11 America, the legal expert is dour and forthright, warning listeners that "the first casualty of fear is often rights".
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