A free society means inalienable rights


From Dan Mitchell:

Walter Williams Warns Against Tyrannical Majoritarianism.

Most people assume that decisions should be made by majority rule, but that assumes 51 percent of the people should have the right to rape and pillage 49 percent of the people. The sign of a free society, as Walter Williams explains, is that people have inalienable rights:

What’s so great about majority rule? Let’s look at majority rule, as a decision-making tool, and ask how many of our choices we would like settled by what a majority likes. Would you want the kind of car that you own to be decided through a democratic process, or would you prefer purchasing any car you please? Ask that same question about decisions such as where you live, what clothes you purchase, what food you eat, what entertainment you enjoy and what wines you drink. I’m sure that if anyone suggested that these choices be subject to a democratic process, you’d deem it tyranny. … Our founders intended for us to have a limited republican form of government where rights precede government and there is rule of law. Citizens, as well as government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government intervenes in civil society only to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange. By contrast, in a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. The law is whatever the government deems it to be. Rights may be granted or taken away. …In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wrote, “Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.” That’s another way of saying that one of the primary dangers of majority rule is that it confers an aura of legitimacy and respectability on acts that would otherwise be deemed tyrannical. Liberty and democracy are not synonymous and could actually be opposites.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/WalterEWilliams/2007/02/28/democracy _or_liberty


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