Star Wars and Human Rights

Ok, I am going to have to get really, really nerdy on you right now.

A few months ago I went to a meeting about politics for young people and one guy wrote about how he and a friend were arguing about human rights and Star Wars.  His friend felt that the Star Wars galaxy was better off under the Empire than under the Republic.  He reasoned that the Republic did not do anything to eliminate slavery on Tatooine, whereas the Empire had banned the practice.  (Is that true?  I don’t remember that in the movies.  Is that from the books?)   But setting aside whether or not the Emperor really eliminated slavery, the friend argued that because human rights was better under the Empire, the galaxy was better off under the Empire than the Republic.

The young man at the meeting disagreed and argued with his friend, and the friend said, “I guess that I care more about human rights than you do.”

Of course, I side with the young man at the meeting.  Here’s why.

1 First of all, I would argue that human rights were not better off under the Empire.  The Empire blew up a planet, Alderaan.  Blowing up a planet is a human rights violation.  This is even more true of Alderaan.  I remember reading in my brother’s book about Star Wars characters and it stated that weapons and violence were banned on Alderaan, and Princess Leia says that “Alderaan is peaceful, we have no weapons.”  In other words, blowing up Alderaan is the equivalent of nuking Switzerland.

2 Second of all, even if the Emperor did eliminate slavery from the Empire, that is not necessarily a victory for human rights.  If the right not to be a slave can be dispensed on high from the Emperor (without any justification under individual rights, morality, or the rule of law) but purely by fiat, then the Emperor can similarly revoke the freedom of a large group of people, purely by fiat.  The rights of the people are less secure in such a system.  I would much prefer a Republic than an Empire for rights.  In a Republic, rights may be more difficult to obtain, but once they are obtained, they are far more secure.

Ok, nerding out finished.

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