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Because the world is not perfect, a universal truth of humanity and human rights has yet to come to fruition

. People have hoped to finally solve this question, yet it continues to be hotly debated across all lines of society over the ages. Everyone from politicians to captains of industry to scholars take stabs at exactly how to solve the continuing issue of human rights and how to further explain the intricate workings of humanity and the human community. However, some of the most successful attempts at elaborating upon these questions belong to artists. Art serves as a method of communication that transpires across cultural, linguistic and temporal barriers. Lynn Hunt, author of Inventing Human Rights, would further argue that artists across all generations and mediums have been able to successfully deliver messages of social and humanitarian commentary. What Lynn Hunt does not recognize, however, is that not only can art serve to elucidate the nature of humanity and human rights, but art can also help explain how human rights come to be recognized by society because human rights are inherently not self-evident. Although some work may be directed at utterly different audiences and may be more or less appreciated by high society, it still may be able to deliver powerful and accurate messages. On the opposite end of the spectrum from well-to-do men and women discussing amongst themselves the subtle compositional characteristics of Turner’s “Slaveship” while stroking their chins in the Louvre, a group of teenagers sit somewhere laughing their heads off at the latest South Park episode. The two works may be of different mediums, eras, artists and even intended for different audiences, but they both are still able to convey messages about the current state of humanity.

inadvertently opening the floodgates for a tidal wave of drifters to invade the small mountain town. In particular. Initially the audience may be captivated by the beauty of the colors of the setting sun and not notice the disturbing reality behind the painting. Not knowing the repercussions. but it also supports points made by Lynn Hunt regarding the definition of “human” and elaborating upon human rights and humans’ obligations to others as equals. the 7th episode of South Park’s 11th season. In this specific episode. the content emerges as hysterical. however. an audience may watch a South Park episode and initially be caught up in the hysterical and outrageous depictions of characters and events without realizing the gravity of the message behind the humor. Turner’s painting speaks to the lack of humanity associated with the slave trade by subtly including the horrors of slave traders throwing shackled slaves into the ocean to drop weight when the slave ship is caught up in a fierce storm. The subject of the cartoon episode is a vagabond apocalypse in the city of South Park. Kyle takes pity on a certain beggar outside his home and gives him money. but an even deeper message lies behind the satirical subsurface.In this drastic comparison. all the residents of South Park are surprised and repulsed by a sudden influx of homeless beggars on their streets. Parker’s and Stone’s creativity and absurd plot development carries the boys of South Park into all out chaos with armed citizen militias taking shelter on roof tops to . “Night of the Living Homeless” serves as a prime example of not only the satirical genius of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In the same way. From here. On the surface. instigating raucous laughter every few minutes. inspires a great deal of thought to exactly what the creators’ message is behind the satire. A slightly more critical view of the exact same episode.

the ease at which a regular member of society can succumb to economic difficulty and become homeless is shown. but also that once these people become homeless they loose their humanity. The fear and contempt shown for the homeless (monsters) in the cartoon are all to similar to the actual response by many to the unfortunate homeless in reality. Due to the boys’ ingenuity. Speaking to the issues Hunt addresses such as the nature of humanity and the human community. When Kyle’s dad becomes one of them because he is forced to ask for change in order to buy a bus ticket. they devise a solution to the epidemic by luring the hoard of (literally) money eating vagabonds all the way to the urban California coast. This point is exemplified by the manner in which the homeless are not treated as fellow human beings simply down on their luck.protect themselves from the growing sea of the homeless in the streets as if they were flesh eating zombies. In addition to the actual treatment of the homeless. The satirists are overly exaggerating the separation and scorn from the South Park citizens to the homeless to give viewers a slap in the face that a problem exists. South Park vividly shows the potential hostility of man to one another. but as a completely different species. not only with the fact that so many people in the world are homeless. The comedy overtly comments on the massive social problem of homelessness and the manner in which they are treated as inhuman such as how the South Park citizens treat them as zombies by hiding on roofs from them or such as where the boys meet an “expert on homelessness” who works in a Frankenstein-esque laboratory where he studies vagabonds literally as if they were monsters: inspecting their anatomy and performing tests such as to see exactly how long they can survive for without consuming (in this case eating) change. he is automatically seen as one of them and past the point of no return .

This specific scene shows the ease with which humanity can become hostile and the often difficulty of regaining acceptance into specific communities. Some of the boys in the episode feel guilty because of the obvious suffering of the homeless and feel obligated to give them whatever they can in order to appease their situation. Contrasting Lynn Hunt’s assertion about the self-evidence of human rights. hostility is sometimes returned even at acts of kindness such as when Kyle’s donation to the homeless man begging outside his home is only met with a lack of appreciation and a sense of entitlement on the part of the homeless man for more money. Indeed the human community is not necessarily hospitable. Sadly. but they are discouraged because any gifts will be seen as encouraging the homeless to beg more and would increase their population. Human rights are indeed not self evident because an issue within society . when certain people like Kyle buckle under their guilt and do give to the needy. Society functions in the same way as the majority of the citizens of South Park where they are reluctant and often refuse to give to those obviously in poorer condition than themselves. thus creating resentment in Kyle for being generous at all. the South Park episode demonstrates just the opposite because of how the homeless situation in South Park needed to reach an apocalyptic level before any action (in this case action substitutes for compassion or society wide acknowledgement of an issue regarding human rights) was taken. A slightly more interesting perspective from the base level satire of the problem of the homeless and a lack of compassion to them is to look at the next level beyond this commentary on the humanitarian issues and look at the manner in which this art recognizes the difficulty of bringing social issues to light.where he is automatically displaced from the rest of humanity.

The homeless of South Park were suffering just as much when they were considered a nuisance as when they were acted upon later in the episode.needs to arise in order to bring attention to a particular human right (or lack thereof). Just as the issue of the homeless situation in South Park was ignored until the epidemic which brought about public awareness and action. but because of the all too often hostility of humans to one another. human rights are not self evident and require unrest of one sort or another to bring human rights into perspective when certain people obviously suffer more than others. Ideally. This issue is particularly pressing because of the infringement upon said human rights during the vast majority of the time when they are not recognized. so are all human right issues ignored until a notable event forces them into the light of public awareness and then (occasionally) acted upon. Actual society reacts where a human rights epidemic such as poor living conditions of the poor in New Orleans was ignored until a disaster such as hurricane Katrina shocked the public into momentarily addressing their rights as fellow humans through monetary relief. . human rights would not need the force of a horrendous event to be thrust to the surface.