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Majority Rule and Other Quirks of Democracy

Should discrimination be allowed to occur if it has majority support?

  • I'm not sure. Undecided.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Grand Arbiter II
Bad attention grabbing title is bad. It does relate to this thread, however.

This debate is a tad abstract, however, it does have some implications in the real world.

Democracy, one the great achievements of the West, something Westerners enjoy and something that people in other parts of the world also have various levels of attachment to as well. The Arab spring occurred partly because of frustration of opaque, corrupt, autocratic and tyrannical government.

It's a noble sentiment, non? the will of most people in a nation becomes law and government policy; the ability of the plebeians to choose their patricians.

However, what if the majority of a nation's population wanted some form of discrimination on a certain group? What if 70% of a realm's population wanted to enact discriminatory laws against a ethnic, religious/ideological or sexual group? Is it just because it's a democratic process, or should democracy be suspended if it's going to be used as a tool to legitimise discrimination?

Just one example; 84% of Egyptians believe apostates (people who leave Islam) deserve to be killed.
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perpetually tired
I think it was the Federalist No. 10 that said, in passing, that Congress exists to check the whim of the majority in the event the whim of the majority leads the country astray.

In other words, since we're a Republic, there are times when we are obligated to ignore the whim of the majority simply because it's not the right course of action.


Dude, quit with the misleading titles already.

Anyway, to rephrase the OP, the topic is "Is tyranny of the majority acceptable?" Short answer: No. Long answer: Hell no.

Longer answer: Even if one were to go by a utilitarian viewpoint, what good would come to the majority by the oppression of the minority? Some minor comfort at the cost of the removal of human rights? And assuming we're talking about the United States, tyranny of the majority was something the Founding Fathers wanted to avoid at all costs. In fact, that's a large part of the reason the States are a republic, not a true democracy - the Fathers saw it as mob rule, enabling the majority to subjugate the minority for personal gain.

Ultimately, is it not better to provide equality for all, so that everybody regardless of race, religion, belief, orientation, etc. can discover their true potential and become productive, contributing members of society, rather than deciding on an arbitrary "elite" and only allowing them to succeed at the cost of all others?


The Insane
Woah! Look at all this attention!!

We must REALLY rock! Fufufufufuu! >D


Time Lord Victorious
My entire post was lost when you converted this thread into a poll. Now I'll have to start all over again.

Why do you think slavery used to be legal? Tyranny of the majority. A lot of Americans are angry at Muslims, because a very small group of Islamic extremists did some extremely bad things. Now there is a large Islamophobic sentiment spreading among the most ignorant of Americans. You can see how people are protesting at mosque building sites.

This type of discrimination sickens me, and not just because I'm a Muslim. We live in 2011. People should be more tolerant of others.


The Insane
What if 51% of Americans think we should ban Islam?

Thats still not right.. Ther are many races in america.. That would be like banning all african americans from the US or asians, or norwegians, or gays, or latino.. Everyone should belong here..This is a country of "freedom" (as they SAY) , to ban a race or kind is to become a country of tyrrany..


perpetually tired
Then how did 58% of voters ban gay marriage in California in 2008?

It was 52%, actually.

Anyways, the Federal Government does not defer to referenda, at all, so any Proposition __ is kind of a moot example, since it's state-specific. California is unique in that it's one of very few states that require a simple majority to pass a state constitutional amendment. Most other states require a 60% or super majority vote. This is also true of constitutional amendments, which require a super-majority, and are the closest things the Federal Government has to referenda (although, since they are also must get a super-majority in Congress, they aren't referenda strictly speaking).

That said, hypothetically if we were to pass an amendment to ban Islam, that could work. We probably never will though, and if not, we would have to default to a statute. However, the First Amendment would supersede said statute, so in the end, we really just can't ban Islam because of a prior constitutional law. Not to mention, it's understood from the Fourteenth Amendment that their needs to be a rationale basis (as can be inferred from the so-called rationale basis test), which actually will supersede a lot of would-be,or present, statutes.


Est sularus oth mith
So then, 'The good of the many out weigh the good of the few.' Has no meaning? If 90% of a population says "NO" to hair dye, we have to care about the 10%? Gay marriage was denied by a slim margin, but it was voted down. Yes keep fighting to get it brought back up for a vote, but don't whine about losing the first time!

I agree with the 75% majority or better idea. If an issue has that high a majority the issue should be considered buried.

(Wow I'm in a minority!)


I think it's very important for there to be equality everywhere. Therefore, I believe that democracy does need to have an obligation to all citizens, and that a majority can't be used to discriminate against others.


Well-Known Member
Well, in the US, we aren't a pure Democracy.

We're a Democratic Republic. We directly elect (Democratic) representatives (Republic) to government positions to educate themselves in that area in government and work and advocate on our behalf.

It's also built on Majority Rule with respect to Minority Rights. Just because a political philosophy is sweeping the country at that particular moment doesn't mean they can round up their opponents and jail them. It hasn't ALWAYS worked well, sometimes the majority does rule with no respect to Minority Rights, but that's how it's supposed to work.

Some states or municipalities might have some form of direct democracy in the form of propositions or public questions. To amend the Indiana Constitution for example, the proposed amnedment has to pass two separately elected legislatures within a short time period. For example, an amendment that was passed in the 2011 session would have to wait until the 2013 legislative session since 2012 is when some legislative seats are up in the Indiana legislature. The amendment, if passed as specificed above, then goes on the ballot to either be passed or not passed by voters.

California is one of the few states with some type of proposition or petitioning so that almost anything can appear on the ballot.


Est sularus oth mith
Ivanka you realize that equality of everyone is tandem to Anarchy? Everyone is not equal. There has never been (to my knowledge) a society that has ever been completely equal. If you have a government you have already made a separation of class. You have mare a ruling body. Complete equality is a pipe dream.

Point out one poor person to have been elected to office. For that matter how many common blue collar people have held office (Above the local)?