Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Patriotism is a way of saying "Women and children first." And that no one can force a man to feel this way. Instead he must embrace it freely.”     Robert A. Heinlein,    Address at the U.S. Naval Academy April 5, 1973

August 14, 2008

Why Democracy And Individual Liberty Usually Aren’t Compatible

by Doug Mataconis

Sometimes, the wisdom of crowds is as bad as the insanity of a dictator:

Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary, but they draw the line at imposing that same requirement on the Internet. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say leave radio and TV alone, too.


Fifty-seven percent (57%) say the government should not require websites and blog sites that offer political commentary to present opposing viewpoints. But 31% believe the Internet sites should be forced to balance their commentary

If the First Amendment were put to a popular vote today, I doubt that it would get a majority.

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  1. If the First Amendment were put to vote, it would get a majority… Americans pride themselves on having freedoms they don’t understand.

    Comment by Ryan — August 17, 2008 @ 10:57 pm
  2. Well, this is why that little vein in my forehead starts twitching every time I hear someone say we live in a democracy. We’ve totally failed to teach that there are some things to sacred to vote on, and I fear we’re going to pay for it sooner rather than later.

    Comment by Quincy — August 17, 2008 @ 11:06 pm
  3. Quincy,

    Don’t be silly. Athens had democracy without elections. In fact, they were convinced elections were a tool of oligarchs.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 18, 2008 @ 4:54 pm
  4. By the way we live in a Republic…or what’s left of it.

    Comment by publius — August 18, 2008 @ 9:12 pm
  5. “Republic” does not mean “free”. The USSR was a republic. So was Khmer Rouge Cambodia. So is Zimbabwe.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 19, 2008 @ 6:28 pm
  6. Joshua –

    Given that the most people mean “we vote to make decisions” when they say “we live in a democracy”, I feel perfectly fine in my cringing whether you approve or not. Would you not agree that we’ve done a terrible job of holding the line on things to sacred to vote on?

    Comment by Quincy — August 20, 2008 @ 8:11 am

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