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A filmmaker was shot to death because he made a film about Islam; cartoonists are threatened for their depiction of a religious leader. Patrons of public libraries have their borrowing records searched for possible links to terrorist activities. People are pulled out of airport security lines, incarcerated in foreign lands, and tortured because of their skin colour. Innocent people are jailed for lengthy periods of time without just cause. Cities are shut down for fear of the spread of communicable diseases. The way of life of whole communities of people is threatened by the destruction of their natural environment.

These scenes sound like events from a horror movie, but in reality, they have occurred all around us in liberal democracies such as the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

How do we, as voting citizens in a democratic nation, decide what the best way forward should be?

Throughout this course, you have looked at the values and principles associated with liberalism and collectivism. You have learned that as nations become more democratic and more multicultural, great challenges occur for liberal societies.

A balance between ensuring individual and collective freedoms is maintained in the face of threats to collective security and environmental degradation. In our multicultural and interconnected world, citizens and their representatives must find ways to balance the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority while ensuring peace, order, and security for everyone today and tomorrow.

"Those who desire to give up freedom to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."

  Benjamin Franklin

  Do you agree with the statement by Benjamin Franklin that he made during the American War of Independence?
Are you willing to give up any of your freedoms for the sake of security?

In this unit, you will explore how our rights are protected in law. You will examine the balance between the protection of rights of individuals and the right to security of the community at large. You will consider historic and contemporary examples including religious and cultural rights, privacy rights, security rights, and the rights to health protection, and you will weigh them against the fundamental human rights that are valued by the citizens of all liberal democracies.

  • How should individual rights be balanced with collective rights?
  • To what extent should individual rights be infringed upon to ensure collective security in society?

This unit has two sections:

  1. My Rights Versus Yours
  2. Contemporary Issues