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Adventures in Euphemism: Nordic Nations Define “Basic Human Rights”

Posted on July 3 2010 4:00 pm

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Great news, Finns.  It appears you’re the recipients of a brand-new, government-issued Basic Human Right™.  Yes, alongside Life (postnatal) and Liberty (State-defined), you now have the fundamental legal right to affordable broadband internet access!   In fact, Finland is the first nation in the world to pass such legislation, promising access to a 1Mbps connection in every household by 2015.

CNN reports the exuberance of one official:

“From now on a reasonably priced broadband connection will be everyone’s basic right in Finland,” said Finnish communications minister Suvi Linden. “This is absolutely one of the government’s most significant achievements in regional policy and I am proud of it.”

(Insert thunderous applause of Net Neutrality advocates everywhere.)

Now since this appears to be a moral crusade, I won’t trouble you with concerns of government-managed content or future impairment of technological development.  But the angle of “basic human rights” brings to mind another curiously underreported matter across the Baltic—this time, basic parental rights.

According to The New American, Sweden recently signed an education reform package with a title that is a triumph of euphemistic doublespeak: “The new Education Act – for knowledge, choice and security.”  Along with sweeping new regulations on private schools, Sweden has effectively banned home schooling:

“[Religious schools] can’t make any children to pray or confess to the God, but they will still be allowed [to exist],” Education Ministry press secretary Anna Neuman told The New American in a telephone interview. Essentially, there will no longer be any difference between “private” schools and government schools, she explained. And there will be no other option.

In addition to abolishing any remaining distinctions among schools, the new education act also prohibits home schooling for religious or philosophical reasons. Home education can be allowed only in “exceptional circumstances” like extreme bullying, Neuman explained. Lawyers have said the new condition basically means never. […]

“It’s a fear that [home schooling] doesn’t work appropriate[ly],” press secretary Neuman explained, though she admitted there was no report or evidence to back up the fear. (Emphasis mine.)

Clearly, working “appropriately” means something other than educational quality since evidence is squarely on the side of modern home school families. Rather, this is tacit admission that academic success and school choice is of lesser importance than allegiance to State dogma…for the children:

“A pupil who is in need of help and support must have the right to receive it and one who is bright also has the right to be stimulated,” says Minister for Education Jan Björklund about the new Education Act.

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