Submitted by John W. Pell on August 16, 2011 - 2:45pm
This fall I will be teaching a course entitled “Writing Wrongs: Human Rights in the Age of Facebook.” The goal of this course is to help first-year writers consider the rhetorical strategies human rights organizations utilize when communicating with the public via social media. The course opens with the initial question: who is a human? Or, at least, how is the concept of human constructed rhetorically?
In seeking out textual examples that address this question, I found the following article last week:
The article discusses comments made by Mitt Romney on the campaign trail concerning the “personhood” of corporations. What I find so interesting about Romney’s comments (and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling concerning corporations and their political contributions) is his seeming obliviousness to the implications of this view of corporations on the work of human rights. Whether discussing the Civil Rights Amendments or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a clear and central question is how can legislative bodies protect “citizens” or “humans” from unfair socio-economic structures. What happens to that question when the socio-economic structures that have historically contributed to the abuses of others are now “people?”
I look forward to discussing these questions with my students this fall and I will be intrigued to see what they see as the human rights impact of viewing conglomerates of people as singular entities. I will continue to noodle over this serious issue, but in the spirit of levity I conclude with the following: