Article 25

Our Rights, Our Struggle (Preview Edition Editorial)

In Uncategorized on 07/21/2011 at 8:15 pm

Our Rights, Our Struggle

By Gregory Flannery

The handcuffs on the cover no longer hold political prisoners – or so we hope. “Liberated” from the state security apparatus in Egypt, the handcuffs symbolize the uprising of people long shackled by oppression.

Egypt’s revolution, like Tunisia’s, has so far been nonviolent, except for the brutality of the fallen dictators, but the revolutions are far from over. If the handcuffs shown on the cover still hold no political prisoners and never restrain another dissident, critic or journalist, these will have been revolutions worthy of the name. Human rights are the defining issue of our time. Look to the courage of the people of Tunisia and Egypt, Libya, Bahrain Syria, Jordan, Iran – and Cincinnati.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the uprising in Over-the-Rhine against police violence. People causally refer to the “riots” of 2001, but the violence on the streets of Cincinnati was limited, for which we all should be grateful to Angela Leisure, the Rev. Damon Lynch III and other citizens and activists who worked to direct the anger on the streets toward meaningful dialogue.

What happened in April 2001 was significant for its political impact, not for the extent of property damage or injury. When a Cincinnati Police officer shot and killed an unarmed 19-year-old African American wanted for nothing more serious than unpaid traffic citations, just months after a police officer strangled to death an unarmed African American wanted on no charge of any kind, Cincinnatians rose up and demanded change – and they got it. The Cincinnati Police Department today is a much different organization The immediate impetus was the uprising in Over-the-Rhine, but the long-term fix was the collaborative agreement on police reform – a mix of federal court supervision, grudging compliance by the city and the eager dedication of hundreds of citizens committed to justice.

The struggle goes on, of course. Whether in China, where Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo languishes in prison, or in the Middle East, where tyranny is slowly unraveling, human rights are not something won once and forever secured but rather something in constant need of defense and definition. That applies to Cincinnati, too.

This newspaper takes its name from Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, perhaps the most comprehensive and visionary expression of liberty in history. In case you think the U.S. Constitution is a better example, consider just one item.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has this provision: “Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.” You’ll find no such guarantee in the U.S. Constitution. We never got around to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, after all.

The U.S. government was one of 60 countries that formally adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1946, in the founding days of the United Nations. But our implementation has lagged behind our rhetoric.

Perhaps the best evidence of that fact is contained in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration, a list of economic rights nowhere to be found in the Constitution and, in fact, under siege in the current American political climate: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of (oneself and of one’s) family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond (one’s) control.” These are not the fulminations of a radical fringe group but the officially adopted policy of the United States of America since 1946.

Article 25 aims to put the intentions of Article 25 of the Universal Declaration to work by giving job opportunities to people denied them. We are a non-profit newspaper that will examine local, national and international issues relevant to the struggle for human rights. Our distributors will be people who have difficulty finding employment, some because of past criminal records, some who are homeless, some with impediments of mental health.

Our distributors will buy copies of Article 25 for 25 cents each and offer them for donations of $1, keeping the profit that they earn. Call it risk capitalism, if you like. Call it a social enterprise. Call it a last resort for struggling people.

Article 25 will be an independent newspaper, a community newspaper. In an age when entertainment and celebrity are seen as the only way for print media to survive, we’ll strive to do what newspapers are supposed to do: serve the public interest.

This is our preview edition. We’ll begin regular publication June 1. Please watch for our distributors and support their efforts to build better lives.

This preview edition comes to you as the result of the generosity of donors and volunteer writers, artists and photographers.

In the pages ahead, you’ll see what Article 25 is about – and you’ll see information about how you can help. Don’t believe the lie that print journalism is dead. And never give up the struggle for human rights. We’ll show you what we mean.

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