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Friday, June 24, 2005

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 Today's quote: Mill

"'[T]he tyranny of the majority’ is now generally included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard."
~ John Stuart Mill

[Ed. note: Depending on which poll you trust, the United States is between 75% and 85% Christian. That’s a pretty big majority.]

1 Comments:

Blogger M@ said...

Why is the tyrrany of the majority such a misunderstood concept?

I remember distinctly when I finally understood Mill's point. I was in an English History exam. I had just finished correcting the Hobbes quote on the exam, and then there was a quote by J.S. Mill. It was about four lines, but it encapsulated the whole idea perfectly.

All my academic career I had been learning that we live in a constitutional democracy, but until that moment, I did not understand what that meant. It was that pure democracy could not work; government by referendum would result in tyrrany, though it may be couched in the trappings of democracy.

Instead, we have to understand that certain things are above legislation -- those are the rights of the individual. Whether they are the possession of pedophiliac pornography (something with which I disagree most strongly) or the possession of a same-sex life partner (something that I support equally strongly), it is necessary for a body other than the voting populace to register its opinion.

It's what separates us from the animals: the ability to say that, despite the fact that I and many of my friends believe otherwise, we accept that every decision of the government won't go our way.

That's quite a step forward, you know.

2:47 AM  

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