Arena Rules

Two weeks ago I attended the Detroit Lions football game against the Miami Dolphins in downtown Detroit. As I sat down behind the end zone and dug into my bag of peanuts, I heard the announcer over the speakers reading some messages. These messages were really nothing out of the ordinary; go to gate 24 for this, gate 30 for that, drink responsibly, our sponsors are blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t until he said something along the lines of “we ask that you please watch your language” when I began to question the amount of authority the owners of that particular stadium had over me and how that affected my individual rights. Ok, no I didn’t, but I am now – and it’s brought me to an interesting connection to a reading we’ve very recently done.

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Water as a Human Right?

A photograph taken from the edge of the Detroit River.

A photograph taken from the edge of the Detroit River.

As many Americans know, the city of Detroit has had its fair share of struggles. One of the most recent issues plaguing the city of Detroit has to do with water. A recent increase in water shutoffs by the city has sparked controversy amongst many Detroiters. On June 26, 2014 protesters circled in front of the Detroit Water Board building, declaring that the city had violated their human rights by shutting off their access to water.

Deputy Director for Detroit’s Water and Sewage, Darryl Latimer explained that those who are considered “delinquent customers” are getting their water shut off because the city can no longer afford to offer free water to customers who are not paying their bills. Those customers that fall under a delinquent status means that their bill is at least sixty days past due and they owe over $150. Furthermore, Latimer explained that a visit to the Detroit Water Board office could help customers who are having difficulty paying their bills. He says that the city is willing to work with customers who are facing issues of affordability. A week before the June protest, the Detroit City Council voted and approved an 8.7% rate increase on water because of their accumulating debt.

With help from protesters and the media, the issue of water shutoffs in Detroit has become bigger than life, receiving way more attention than it should have. Yes, I believe that water is a necessity, considering we as humans need it to live. However, water is most certainly not a human right. Like Detroit, towns and cities across the country participate in a similar process when it comes to collecting, purifying and delivering water to millions of homes and businesses daily. This process is called a service. A service is not a right and therefore this process that is completed for us, must be paid for. Why should Detroiters receive free water while millions of other Americans continue to pay their bills? Continue reading