Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Democracy and Mob Rule

The Slacktivist blog is saying something that I have tried a dozen times to get into words, always giving up in an incoherent tangle of concepts. They are talking about the cases being made in the Proposition 8 case in California, where people voted not to recognize same-sex marriages. I would love to copy and paste this whole thing, but it's a little long. Let me pick pieces for you -- this addresses, I think, a very fundamental issue facing our country.
The Alliance Defense Fund is fighting for its life.

It's current case -- defending the constitutionality of California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 -- cuts to the heart and soul of this organization and, indeed, to the core and essence of the religious right groups who came together to create it.

The ADF was founded as a sectarian, conservative response to the ACLU.* Where the American Civil Liberties Union exists to protect the rights of minorities from being denied or eroded by the majority, the ADF took on the opposite mission. It was founded to defend the majority's privilege, to ensure that the rights of minorities are not regarded as equal to the rights of those who outnumber them, and that these minority rights not be allowed to deny or erode the hegemony of the majority perspective.

The defense of Prop 8 is therefore the archetypal ADF case. It gives their legal team the opportunity to argue, in court, that the constitutional guarantee of the rights of minorities must not be interpreted as overriding traditionally practiced limitations of those rights and that majority rule must never be made subservient to the rule of law.

And to be clear, the ADF is arguing exactly that. Explicitly that. That is their case in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Here is ADF lawyer Austin Nimocks:
"The fundamental issue here is whether or not in America we respect and should uphold the right of a free people to make social policy choices through the democratic process."


For the ADF and the religious right, "the right of a free people to make social policy choices through the democratic process" means this and only this: the majority of American citizens are Christians and thus that majority has the right to pass laws expressly and exclusively based on their Christian beliefs.

In the particular case in California, the ADF is vehemently arguing that the Constitution doesn't mind that the heterosexual majority has voted to restrict the rights of the non-heterosexual minority. Contrary to what Mr. Nimocks might like to think, that is not "the democratic process." The technical term for a majority voting to give itself rights while denying those same rights to the minority is "mob rule." Which is different.

Nimocks is saying that the majority has the right to be a bully. Such bullying is not simply an incidental tactic of the religious right, it is it's raison d'etre. And like many bullies, the ADF and the religious right tend to crumble when anyone stands up to their bullying. Like many bullies, they like to pretend that they are the victims -- hence the incoherent Persecuted Hegemon phenomenon that characterizes so much of the religious right (not to mention the pathetic spectacle of the ADF bullies crying and running away when faced with the prospect of cameras in the courtroom). Bullies

Our suburban county came close to having a referendum to relegalize discrimination against transgender people, and there was a good chance that the majority of people, even in our liberal county, could be persuaded to vote for continued discrimination, for instance by telling them the vote was about whether male predators and pedophiles would be able to legally lurk in ladies locker-rooms. Democracy is not mob rule, a reasonable representative democracy like ours is hung on the framework of a constitution that protects the rights of minorities.

Go read the whole thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

minorities don't have any more or any fewer rights than anyone else

these are the rights enumerated in the Constitution

what you want is a guarantee of success and special consideration for those violate societal standards

January 26, 2010 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans are very astute:

"CNN bills itself as "the most trusted name in news" but the results of a new poll released Tuesday suggest that title belongs to Fox News.

The Public Policy Polling survey asked Americans about their levels of trust in each of the major television news outlets. Fox News came out on top, with 49 percent of respondents saying it was the network they trusted the most.

CNN was the second most-trusted TV news outlet, with 39 percent of respondents endorsing it.

Among the "big three" broadcast networks, NBC News was the most trusted, followed by CBS News and, in last place, ABC News."

January 26, 2010 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Young conservatives have run amok. Did daddy ask them to do it?

"The conservative young filmmaker whose undercover sting damaged a liberal activist group last year faces federal criminal charges in an alleged plot to bug the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

James O'Keefe was among four men who created a ruse to enter the lawmaker's downtown office, saying they needed to repair her telephones, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. O'Keefe used his cellphone to take pictures of two men, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who are accused in an FBI agent's sworn affidavit of impersonating telephone company workers. Stanley Dai is accused of aiding the Jan. 25 plot.

All four were taken to a suburban New Orleans jail and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. If convicted, each man faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Flanagan, 24, is the son of William J. Flanagan, the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, based in Shreveport. William Flanagan declined to comment through an office assistant.

Landrieu said Tuesday, "I am as interested as everyone else about their motives and purpose, which I hope will become clear as the investigation moves forward."

Last July, Landrieu proposed a replacement for William Flanagan, and last week, President Obama nominated that person, Stephanie A. Finley, for the job.

O'Keefe, 25, became a conservative hero last year after he and fellow activist Hannah Giles secretly videotaped several regional offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) while posting as a pimp and a prostitute. O'Keefe's videos showed ACORN staffers appearing to offer them housing help and advice on concealing their purported prostitution business.

The furor over the videos led Congress in September to recommend banning all federal funding for ACORN, and the group, facing major questions about its housing work for the federal government, was forced to launch an internal audit of its operations. The ban never took effect: In December, a federal court ruled that singling out ACORN for punishment was unconstitutional and ordered the federal government to honor its existing contracts with the group."

January 27, 2010 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if it was 60 Minutes or Michael Moore, instead of conservatives who are doing investigative work, you'd be high-fivin' 'em

January 27, 2010 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

climategate, glaciergate, manateegate...

"TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 26) - More than 100 manatees have been found dead in Florida waters since the beginning of the year, mostly victims of a cold snap.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the preliminary cause of death for 77 of the endangered animals is cold stress. They were found from Jan. 1 through Jan. 23.

The Sunshine State saw unseasonably cold weather starting around the first of the year that killed fish and stunned thousands of sea turtles.

Officials say the numbers of dead manatees from the cold is a record for a single year."

January 27, 2010 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And if a Democratic Criminal Had Been Arrested For Bugging the Office of a Republican Senator…?

January 27, 2010 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(Jan. 27) -- News of James O'Keefe's arrest has stunned right-wing bloggers who cheered him just a few months ago for embarrassing ACORN by masquerading as a pimp in a series of hidden-camera videos. O'Keefe and three other men are accused of tampering with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office.

The four are charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Authorities say O'Keefe took cell phone camera video of two accomplices who posed as telephone repairmen while the fourth suspect used a listening device in a car a couple of blocks away. An FBI agent's affidavit (click to see PDF) says O'Keefe admitted to federal agents that he was part of the scheme.

The response from conservatives on the Web has been noticeably monosyllabic.

Michelle Malkin: Ugh
Hot Air's Allahpundit: Ohhhh boy
Political Byline: D'oh!
The Other McCain: Ruh-Roh
Instapundit Glenn Reynolds: Hmm

The reaction from ACORN -- which was hurt by O'Keefe's videos of its workers in several offices across the country giving his fake pimp advice about opening a brothel -- was also succinct. A Twitter post from the liberal community organizing group said: "Couldn't have happened to a more deserving soul."

Landrieu has issued a one-paragraph statement calling the incident "very unusual" and "somewhat unsettling for me and my staff." The Louisiana Democrat said she's "as interested as everyone else about their motives and purpose."

Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Michael McHale wasn't as reserved as the senator. He fired off a statement expressing shock and outrage and labeled the affair a "Louisiana Watergate."

Adding to the political intrigue is the identity of one of the phony phone repairman. Robert Flanagan is the son of the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana and has accused Landrieu of selling her vote in favor of a health care reform bill in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid for her state. Media Matters for America rounded up information on the other two suspects, conservative activists Joseph Basel and Stan Dai.

Andrew Breitbart financed O'Keefe's ACORN videos and gave them heavy exposure on his Big Government Web site when it debuted in September. So bloggers are wondering whether there's a connection this time.

"I am thinking O'Keefe knows something about Landrieu. What can it be? Andrew Breitbart do you know something?" Clifton B asked on his blog Another Black Conservative.

"We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O'Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu's office," Breitbart declared in a statement shortly after the story broke late Tuesday afternoon.

A few hours later, Breitbart had more to say on Big Government -- accusing the "Mainstream Media," ACORN and Media Matters of "jumping to conclusions" and smearing O'Keefe and his co-defendants.

"Let me state clearly for the record: wiretapping is wrong. But until I hear the full story from James O'Keefe, I will not speculate as to what he was doing in Louisiana," Breitbart said.

In other words, stay tuned."

January 27, 2010 2:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home