Bollocks Ms. Sarler

Sorry, but this ain\’t true.

The higher moral ground, in a democracy, belongs to consensus drawn from the values of the majority and implemented by the flawed beast that is the law. Those who would exempt themselves from it, no matter how enjoyable the fleeting fame of their martyrdom, deserve no more endorsement or admiration than any other petty delinquent.

That is what is known as the Tyranny of the Majority. It\’s the recipe for an authoritarian State. You must do as we the majority say you should, rather than follow either your individual conscience or desires. There was a majority at one time that said that those who believed in consubstantiation were heretics and so they were burned. Not too many decades distant from that point those who believed in transubstansiation were heretics and thus burned in their turn.

At another point there was a societal consensus that homosexuals were an abomination unto the majority consensus and so were to be hanged. It\’s actually true that in one year (admittedly, I think there was a particularly homophobic Lincoln Assizes at the time) more people were hung in England and Wales for playing shirtlifter than were for murder.

The mark of a free and liberal society is exactly the opposite of Ms. Sarler\’s statement. That flawed beast, the law, should not be used to try and impose the majority\’s moral consensus. Rather, it should protect the individual and their decisions from it.

4 comments on “Bollocks Ms. Sarler

  1. I agree with your point overall but the question remains which decisions merit the protection of the law and which are unworthy – which tends to bring us back to societal consensus again.

    e.g. paedophilia – age limits for sex vary across the world and in some cultures 13 years old isn’t seen as being too young to get married. However, I am among the majority in the UK who would be aghast if this was viewed as an individual choice.

    In the case of the JP implementation of the law itself is and the rights of individuals coming before the law may be affected. I wouldn’t be happy if practicing muslim judges refused to hear financial cases involving interest charges, or any other arbiter of justice refusing to judge certain matters on the basis of personal beliefs – all judges will have some personal beliefs and eventually we’d have a system where scheduling hearings grew impossible as all the judges willing to hear a particular class of case were unavailable. The courts are slow enough already. On the other hand, I think it is sensible to declare existing biases and, once declared, it becomes inappropriate to have cases come before a self-confessedly partial arbitrator.

  2. Paedophilia cannot be viewed as a matter of individual choice because the child is not making a choice: the power differential is too great and the child is immature mentally as well.

  3. I agree with your central point, Tim, but like Antonia I’m pretty confident some of the things we have as law and that we both obey and believe in as laws are majority decisions. I think it will be impossible to remove all of these from the law and still socially function. Society if is to exist must be coercive in part.

    However, I think the point is that where such majority rule is important, it should almost always be a social rather than legal pressure that is applied. Unlike Ms Sarler, I take the necessary evil of legal pressure in such instances to not represent democracy at its finest or the law at its most justified, but rather the worrying weakness of the best form of government I know.

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