Sunday, September 19, 2004

Democracy is Overrated II

Now K. Grease is really angry. I hold the following truths to be self-evident.

  • Voters are (rationally) ill-informed
  • Most of them aren't that bright anyway; in any case, they don't know more than I do about good choices in my life
  • Regardless of their wisdom, other people shouldn't be able to tell me what to wear, or who to sleep with, or what to think or say about God
  • I should have the right to use or dispose of my property in any way that doesn't physically harm others ("I'm offended" doesn't count).

But the particular brand of mob rule we call democracy ignores, or actively lies about, all these things. Still, "democracy" is a thing we all admire, right?

Actually, I think we do, or claim to. That's okay, people get to be wrong about what they believe. But what bugs me is the hypocrisy of so many people who claim to favor democracy, because they actually favor the opposite. What most liberals mean by "favoring democracy" is this: "I favor using the coercive powers of government to implement through the court system, backed by Federal marshalls and the Army if necessary, a particular brand of policy that is honestly supported by less than a quarter of the U.S. population." In other words: We got guns! We don't need no stinkin' persuasion.

Consider "gay marriage": 2/3 to 3/4 of most states are opposed to civil sanction of same sex unions. Louisiana just voted on a ban, and it passed overwhelmingly (excerpt of AP story at bottom of this post).

Now, being a Libertarian, I strongly favor gay marriage rights. But not because I think that gay Americans should be singled out for special protection.

I favor gay marriage because "the people," and their knuckle-dragging hired thug, "the government," have no right to dictate private choices. I don't want to live in a system where some group of yahoos, if they are numerous enough, can use religion, prejudice, or whim to restrict the right of contract between consenting, informed, competent adults. And the name of that system is "Democracy."

I have no problem using the Bill of Rights, and the court system, to thwart repressive impulses of the mob, as long as we all admit that that is what we are doing. Saying "I love democracy" out of one side of your mouth, and then fighting against the majority will on the other side, is the basest kind of hypocrisy.

The real point of disagreement between me and the liberal democracy apologists is this: they think democracy is basically good, but prone to abuse, unless vigilance keeps it pure. I think the abuse is the thing itself: Democracy is inherently oppressive, unless it is chained up like a dangerous wild animal in domain restrictions.

In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse! Observe, my Lord, I pray you, that grand Error upon which all artificial legislative Power is founded. It was observed, that Men had ungovernable Passions, which made it necessary to guard against the Violence they might offer to each other. They appointed Governors over them for this Reason; but a worse and more perplexing Difficulty arises, how to be defended against the Governors? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Edmund Burke, in A Vindication of Natural Society.


Associated Press Story Excerpt (The lawyer's name is John Rawls! Is that cool, or what?)

September 19, 2004, Sunday, BC cycle 12:26 AM Eastern Time508 words

HEADLINE: Louisiana voters approve same-sex marriage amendment; opponents promise court challenge

BYLINE: By KEVIN McGILL, Associated Press Writer

...Louisiana voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment Saturday banning same-sex marriages and civil unions, one of up to 12 such measures on the ballot around the country this year.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment was winning approval with 78 percent of the vote, and support for it was evident statewide. Only in New Orleans, home to a politically strong gay community, was the race relatively close, and even there the amendment was winning passage. Turnout statewide appeared to be about 27 percent of Louisiana's 2.8 million voters, somewhat low for a state election. Christian conservatives had conducted an intense grassroots lobbying campaign for the amendment, which had been expected to pass easily.

The civil rights group Forum for Equality had already promised legal action against it."It's gratifying to see the people of Louisiana had an opportunity, as distinguished from judges, having the final say on the issue of whether traditional marriage will continue to be the fundamental institution in our state," said Darrell White, a retired state judge and consultant for Louisiana Family Forum, which pushed for the amendment.

John Rawls, a lawyer for Forum for Equality, reiterated the group's contention that the amendment does far more than stop gay marriage and that it could affect many private contracts between unmarried couples, gay or straight - a claim its supporters dispute."I am disappointed that so many Louisianians either did not read the amendment or are so afraid of gays that they voted for this amendment anyway," Rawls said....

1 comment:

Chris Lawrence said...

You may be interested in this post (not by me) on a not-unrelated topic.