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 Monday, 20 December 2004
Monday, 20 December 2004 15:37:44 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

The founders were wise not to trust the whims of regular citizens overmuch. Masses of people are fickle and generally thoughtless, and given direct control over the government they'd wreak havoc upon us all.

For instance, in the (rapidly lengthening) wake of 9/11 we have study results showing that nearly half the people in the US think we should curtail the civil rights of Muslims in the US.

Where was the outcry after Oklahoma City to curtail the civil rights of people like Timothy McVeigh. You know, ex-military types. Yup, we should register the locations of all ex-military people at all times just like we do with sexual predators.

Because that's what this study is suggesting. Nearly half our population is ready to treat all Muslims in the same manner we treat sexual predators - or maybe even worse.

''Our results highlight the need for continued dialogue about issues of civil liberties in time of war,'' says James Shanahan, Cornell associate professor of communication and a principal investigator in the study.

And this makes sense. It is even rational. Except for one little problem. This particular war is likely to go on for a few decades. Because he's not talking about the war in Iraq (which is also likely to last a very long time), but rather about the war on terror itself.

Given that terrorism has existed throughout the history of mankind, it seems reasonable to expect that we'll be fighting this war for about as long as we'll fight similar wars - like the war on drugs. Yup, that war is also being waged against something that has been with mankind essentially forever.

My point being that any decision made based on the war against terror had best be a decision we can live with for decades. Very likely for longer than our lifetimes as adults.

Personally I am unwilling to sanction the indefinite curtailing of civil rights for an entire category of Americans. I guess I didn't like the whole idea of Apartheid coming to the US after we worked so hard to support its removal in South Africa... Heck, even Sharon in Israel is making noises about going the other direction - specifically to avoid the prospect of Apartheid.

I guess my problem is that I get my news off the Internet and don't watch enough television...

''The more attention paid to television news, the more you fear terrorism, and you are more likely to favor restrictions on civil liberties,'' says Nisbet.

Without fair and balanced coverage of the news I just don't have enough fear... Me and just over half the US population.

Which brings me back to my original point. By creating a representative democracy in the form of a republic, the founders were pretty darn smart. It is very clear that popular opinion, translated directly into policy, would rapidly lead to some devastating choices. Pure majority rule is one of the most scary things imaginable for a nation.

Comments [4] | | # 
Tuesday, 21 December 2004 09:12:21 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Both Republics and Democracies have their failings. The filp side of a Republic is when power is concentrated in the hands of a relatively few individuals, it can become extrodinarily difficult for the people to be heard. For example, it is highly unlikely that any group will vote power away from themselves. An illustration of that is term limits. There is no way for the people to push Federal term limits through because there are too many politicians between the people and the decision. I think that we need something akin to Calfornia's proposition idea. That the people can pass a law that is treated just as if Congress passed that law meaning that the law would still be subject to the Supreme Court. Were it not for proposition idea, we in California would still be paying 20%+ property taxes each year.
Tuesday, 21 December 2004 16:45:20 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Of course California also voted in that proposition to restrict the rights of US citizens born of illegal aliens... I never did hear whether that was eventually ruled as unconstitutional as it appeared on its face.

Here in Minnesota we got rid of our onerous tax (automobile tabs) by electing a pseudo-celebrity in the form of Jesse Ventura. California elected a celebrity as well, and it sounds like that is (on the whole) working out pretty well.

Perhaps we should be governed by elected celebrities? ;-)
Thursday, 23 December 2004 08:56:05 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I'm not sure of which measure you are talking, but the main illegal alien measure that Californians voted for was to prevent the of use public money to support *illegal* aliens. They were fully justified in doing so because the Mexican lobbies that cater to illegals were putting trememdous pressure on the politicians to vote against any such measure. Unfortunately, it was voted down as being unconstitutional if I remember correctly.
Thursday, 23 December 2004 16:38:50 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I think the measure in question was Prop. 187. It specifically restricted public schooling and public support for illegal aliens and for the children of illegal aliens under the the child welfare system.

It never specifically singled out child citizens of illegal aliens, but I remember the big controversy at the time (mid 1990's)was that the proposition was in direct conflict with the rights of child citizens who were the children of illegal aliens...

Although I was under the impression that it was possible to deport child citizens with their illegal alien the whole issue of a child citizen's rights seem to be rather hazy anyway.
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